The AAPI Design Alliance Is The First Community Of Its Kind

This past May, a group of home and interior designers identifying as members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community officially launched the AAPI Design Alliance, as Business of Home reports. The founders were motivated by a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their final catalyst for starting the group came when a gunman killed six women of Asian descent in a racially motivated shooting at a spa in Atlanta, Georgia, in March of 2021.

It was clear to many artists and designers identifying as Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander that more support and resources were needed to uplift members of the Asian American community as a whole, and they wanted to build a space within the home design industry to bring together students, designers, makers, and professionals and amplify their voices and concerns.

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AAPI Design Alliance's mission and goals

The AAPI Design Alliance intends to focus on six goals as the organization launches and gains members. Their first goal is advocacy, with the desire to increase awareness of Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures and elevate issues impacting the community, particularly issues embedded in the home design and d├ęcor industry.

This motivation feeds into their second goal, awareness, which will include highlighting the work of AAPI designers and artists and AAPI-owned design companies and brands who have long gone unnoticed and being a unifying voice for the designer community. Next, their third goal, collaboration, will build on awareness by fostering partnerships between AAPI artists and brands and between these artists and brands and other non-AAPI players in the home design industry (via AAPI Design Alliance).

These partnerships will hopefully lead to the AAPI Design Alliance's fourth goal, dialogue. The organization wants to create opportunities for conversations within the home and interior design space about AAPI issues and the racism embedded in the industry. Ideally, these conversations would take place at events hosted by the alliance that are oriented around AAPI issues, as well as through increasing the representation of designers at current industry gatherings.

Their final goal, mentorship, will focus on internally uplifting younger members of the community within the industry and providing educational opportunities to help them further their career and design goals.

Steps the AAPI Design Alliance has already taken

Although the organization is young, Business of Home reports that it has already taken some steps toward building membership and implementing its goals. Members have connected with each other to discuss experiences where they have been the target of racial microaggressions in industry spaces. The Office of Diversity and Faculty Development at the University of California, Los Angeles, defines microaggression as an everyday slight or insult that subtly reinforces negative stereotypes about a marginalized group of people.

An example of a common microaggression targeting members of the community is telling a person of Asian descent that they speak English really well, which implies that they are perpetually foreign in their own country. Creating a space where designers can discuss microaggressions within the design industry fosters support among members of the AAPI Design Alliance. This has even led to conversations about how to make the industry more inclusive.

The AAPI Design Alliance hopes to continue building relationships between members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community working in the home design industry. Such relationships could lead to better networking among designers and sharing of job openings and other opportunities to amplify AAPI voices in an industry still dominated by white designers and not reflective of the diversity of American society as a whole.