Congratulations to the Sixth Annual Diversity In Design Scholarship Winners

IA Interior Architects is thrilled to announce the 2023-2024 Diversity in Design Scholarship recipients. Now in its sixth year, the scholarship program was established in 2018 in partnership with the IIDA Foundation. The program aims to enrich and advance the interior design profession by recognizing stellar students who represent diverse voices and perspectives.

Open to any minority student currently enrolled in a design or architecture program, the program’s entry requirement is a 500-word essay asking students to creatively challenge the design industry and education system to make actual institutional changes. This year, the essay topic was centered around the much-debated issue of AI. As emerging design professionals entering the industry, we asked the students to share their perspectives on AI. We were especially interested in its impacts on DEI efforts across the design profession and how we can navigate AI’s inherent bias. We also asked them to share predictions on how they envision AI impacting the future of design.

All essays were reviewed by select leaders at IA and the IIDA Foundation Board of Trustees and are juried anonymously.

This year’s six recipients are:

Sofia Vinasco, who studies Interior Design and Business at Louisiana State University, was awarded this year’s first-place scholarship of $5,000 for their essay, “AI in Design, from a Minority Standpoint.”

Josef Beal, completing his MFA in Interior Architecture from George Washington University, received the second-place award of $3,000 for their essay, “Diversity Can Be Designed into AI.”

There were four additional $500 scholarship awards granted for essays that received honorable mentions; the recipients included BryAnna Lewis, Interior Design Major at Texas State University, for their essay “Reimagining the Impossible”; Suwade Pe Than, working towards their BFA at SCAD, for their issue “The Good, The Bad and The Unknown: An Ode to Humanity and Innovation”; Julianna Ferguson, studying Interior Architecture and Design at University of Arkansas, with their essay “AI's Impact on Design: Navigating Challenges and Embracing Opportunities,” and Joseph Olivieri, an Interior Design student at New York Institute of Technology, with their essay “The Decommercialization of AI.”

All IA Diversity in Design Scholarship recipients will be featured in the IIDA newsletters “Design Matters” and “QUAD,” and at an IIDA Celebration in Chicago in June. Winning essays are available in full on

As part of the recognition, scholarship recipients will be connected to local IA team members so that they can engage in dialogue directly with practicing designers and architects. Details on the festivities will be announced later this Spring. For more information about the IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship, please contact [email protected].

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