Winners of the IA Interior Architects Third Annual Diversity in Design Scholarship Announced


Press Contacts: Judy Nelson | Director of Communications | [email protected]

IA Interior Architects is excited to announce the winners of the 2020-2021 Diversity in Design Scholarship. Now in its third year, the scholarship program was established in coordination with the IIDA Foundation as a five-year partnership to enhance and progress the interior design profession by recognizing outstanding students.

Open to anyone currently enrolled in a design or architecture program, the entry requirement was a 500-word essay that asked students to address how increased representation in the design profession can create equity in the end-user experience of design and what that looks like to them. All essays were judged blind and reviewed by select leadership of the IIDA Foundation Board of Trustees and IA Interior Architects.

“This year, we chose to focus on one of the most pressing issues related to an equitable workforce: representation.  As designers and architects, we have a responsibility to create sustainable and egalitarian spaces where people of all backgrounds feel safe and empowered to do their best work,” shares IA Co-CEOs and Presidents Tom Powers and David Bourke. “As always, we received a number of fantastic entries from around the world that addressed this topic in a compelling way; so many, in fact, that there was a tie for second place. We extend our sincerest congratulations to all of the winners and look forward to seeing the impact these young professionals will have on the design profession.”

“Promoting diversity in design is crucial to advancing our industry as a whole, and this scholarship celebrates those from underrepresented communities,” said IIDA Foundation Chair Tara Headley, Associate IIDA. “The strength shown in these essays is a testament to the power of representation and awareness. We are proud to be able to give back to such incredible designers who have shown a passion for highlighting critical issues.”

This year’s seven winners are:

Sarah Relyea, Student IIDA, of The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) was awarded this year’s first-place scholarship of $5,000 for her essay, “Diverse Diversity.”

Kay Myers, Student IIDA, of Madison College (Madison, Wisconsin) received the second-place award of $3,000 for her essay, “Giving Place to People,” as did California State University, Long Beach’s (Long Beach, California) Ariana Rahim, Student IIDA who tied for second place for her essay “Rewriting the Future Together.”

There were four additional $500 scholarship awards granted for essays that received honorable mentions. The recipients were Teah Brands from Parsons School of Design, The New School (New York City, New York) with her essay titled “Please Excuse our Appearance; Gentrification in Process;” Liliana Davies, Student IIDA from University of Texas at Arlington (Arlington, Texas) with her essay titled “The Topic of Representation;” Reece Lash from Indiana University Bloomington (Bloomington, Indiana) with her essay titled “The Evolution of Design;” and Mandi Taylor of University of Oregon (Eugene, Oregon) with her essay titled “Design for Everyone.”

All IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship Fund recipients will be featured in the Design Matters and Quad newsletters; winning essays are available on the IIDA website.

As part of the recognition, scholarship recipients will be invited to a virtual celebration this summer with IA’s leadership team, where they can engage in dialogue directly with practicing designers and architects through a roundtable and Q&A. Details on the festivities will be announced in May. For more information about the IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship, please contact [email protected].


The largest architectural firm in the world focused on interiors, IA’s goal has always been to improve lives through visionary design and innovation. Since 1984, we have been translating client goals, brand, and culture into environments built around people, processes, technologies, and business drivers. As architects, designers, strategists, and environmental specialists, we align business strategies and core values with the dynamic use of space. We are employee-owned, and our professionals are highly invested in the firm and clients. Through our integrated services, we work alongside our clients to resolve complex issues and design innovative, user-centric environments where people thrive.

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IIDA is the commercial interior design association with global reach. We support design professionals, industry affiliates, educators, students, firms, and their clients through our network of 15,000+ members across 58 countries. We advocate for advancements in education, design excellence, legislation, leadership, accreditation, and community outreach to increase the value and understanding of interior design as a profession that enhances business value and positively impacts the health and well-being of people’s lives every day.

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