We’re Celebrating Black History Month
This Black History Month, we’re celebrating black designers, artists, and creatives whose unique vision changed the status quo.
As our Black History Month content comes to a close, Officeworks wants to convey its continued intention to diversify the perspectives and narratives that inform our work. The last few weeks have been an opportunity to reflect on and highlight the creative work of historically marginalized and underrepresented communities in the design world. Here are the spotlighted individuals who have been chosen this month.
A multidisciplinary creative, and cultural archivist, Sean Brown is a renaissance man who is not constricted to the bounds of one medium. Most famously known for his nostalgic throwback rugs, his career trajectory has been that of many passion-driven projects: “When life has pulled me in another direction, I’ve allowed it to do that.”
After leaving the International Academy of Design and Technology (IADT) with a failed ready-to-wear line, he pivoted and created his NEEDS & WANTS online boutique, where he was introduced to notable names in the music industry. Leading to him becoming a creative director for different artists.
Brown worked with Combs Enterprises (Diddy) and Toronto musician Daniel Caesar. Later, he would focus entirely on his work with Caesar, creating the visuals for Daniel Caesar’s breakthrough Grammy-nominated album “Freudian.” He also produced artwork for artists like Jessie Reyez, A’maal, SZA, and Normani.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everything stopped, and Brown asked, “What direction does my creativity go in now?” Looking around his new, empty apartment, he thought, “I should start decorating now that I’m going to be here for the unforeseeable future.” He bought a rug and hated it, so decided to create one himself. The demand for his CD-shaped rug led to the development of his houseware brand, Curves, alongside Zach Aburaneh and Ivy Golubovic.
Learn more about Sean Brown and his creative work here:
Kusheda Mensah is a sustainability-minded furniture designer known for her playful recycled furniture that encourages interaction with one another. Creating a functional yet fun living environment has been the basis of her designs. “I really do want my furniture to be for everyone. When I first made the product, I was thinking about how we could all better socialize.”
After studying fashion design at the London College of Design and realizing that it didn’t feed her soul in the ways she imagined, she discovered her interests were in surface materials and designing prints for interiors, leading her to switch her major to surface design. Her final college project was a modular furniture concept, “a baby beta version” of her first collection, Mutual, applying her screen printing expertise to furniture.
Mensah’s latest project, ‘mutual,’ was inspired by her reaction to the ever-growing rift social media creates between individuals and how we bond. Sustainability is a core value of her business. She produces exclusively in the U.K. with recycled foam, which she uses for all her structures.
Learn more about Kusheda Mensah and her company Modular, here: http://modularbymensah.com/
Malene Djenaba Barnett
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Malene Barnett was born into a creative household; she spent her student years pursuing several mediums, from painting and photography at SUNY Purchase to fashion illustration and textile design at FIT. Along the way, she experienced a cultural awakening by reading books, like the biography of Malcolm X, and traveling to Ghana, Barbados, and Saint Lucia to discover her ancestry. These moments ultimately transformed the trajectory of her creative work.
The studio practice began with the question, “What does it mean to have a mother from St. Vincent and a father from Jamaica—the first and last Caribbean islands to be colonized? Further, “What does it mean to be a person of the Black diaspora? What is the Black experience of First-generation Caribbean immigrants?”
Malene is interested in finding ways to define the black narrative while raising awareness about racial inequality in America. She shares her African heritage with a global audience through sculptural ceramic tiles and vessels, mixed media paintings, and handwoven rugs.
Learn more about Marlene and her creative work here:
Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton
Dr. Sharon Egretta Sutton is a distinguished professor of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and an inductee into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. Trained as a classical musician, she began her career in New York City, most notably playing the french horn for the Bolshoi Ballet Company Orchestra. She then transitioned into architecture advocating for social justice causes, supporting efforts to end housing discrimination, and dismantling institutional barriers, drawing from her experiences as an affirmative action student at Columbia University’s School of Architecture.
As a result, she was the twelfth African American woman to be licensed as an architect and the first to be promoted to full professor of architecture. A prolific scholar and creative, Dr. Sutton holds five academic degrees—in music, architecture, philosophy, and psychology.
Her work has been motivated by exploring the complicated relationship between architects and the communities they are entrusted to serve. She dares architects to strive for a more equitable built environment. She was recently awarded the 2023 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education.
Learn more about Dr. Sutton and her academic work here:
We enjoyed sharing these visionaries with you and encourage you to diversify your perspective in your everyday life. Here are some creative initiatives that uplift Black creatives and increase Black representation.
SB – Photo courtesy of Sean Brown
MB – Photo: Julia Hembree for BK Magazine
KM – Photo: Kusheda Mensah
SS – Photo: AIA for AIA
Officeworks is an experienced office space consulting firm dedicated to providing innovative office interior solutions. Officeworks believes in putting people first, investing in the best and brightest individuals who embrace the company’s mission of providing unparalleled customer service. Officeworks is just as focused on Day 2 service as the entire design and installation process, delivering stunning designs, inspiring spaces, and a customer experience that’s second to none.