Designing in Color (DCo) is a collective of architects and designers of culture.
Our mission aims to diversify the way architecture is taught and practiced to amplify marginalized communities who’ve been historically silenced and erased throughout the design process.
DCo facilitates educational programming, creates workshops, designs socially responsible projects, and distributes digital initiatives, each meant to dismantle the systemic racism built into the practice of architecture. Everything DCo creates is proudly informed by the principles of social justice, spatial justice, and design equity.
We want our partners, from students, professionals, institutions, and local communities, to emerge from our collaborations knowledgeable of the injustices of their fields, and excited to begin to pursue justice, all while designing in color.
WHAT WE DO
YOUNG PROFESSIONALS ARE ENCOURAGED TO IDENTIFY STRUCTURES OF POWER THAT INHIBIT THEIR CREATIVITY IN SPACES OF DESIGN
"My personal just cause is to empower the vulnerabilities of people so that they can confidently express their love."
Christopher challenges the established practices of architecture as a Black designer, spatial advocate, and social innovator to create new spaces for equitable change. Currently located in Los Angeles, he moved to the city after graduating from the University of Michigan with a Master's degree in architecture. For three years, Christopher worked on a variety of workplace and educational institution projects. Notably, he worked on the Cal State Los Angeles Student Services Building, a 150,000 sf mid-century building renovation from the beginning of construction administration. Christopher is a member of SoCal NOMA chapter in LA, actively engaged in youth mentorship through the organization's pipeline project summer camp. In 2017, Christopher co-founded small talks: LA, a community-based organization assembling a network of people to construct safe spaces amplifying the disparate voices of Los Angeles. With the creation of Designing in Color and small talks: LA, and through film making, he is studying the current housing crisis across the city using film to tell stories for narratives unknown.
"As a quiet voice myself, it’s in my nature to be a defender and protector of the quieted voices."
Opalia is a designer, with experience working on multi-family residential homes, as well as interior apartment fit-outs for MIT in Cambridge, MA. In addition to her work as a designer, Opalia’s passions lie in curating spaces of inclusion for minority individuals to collaborate, grow, and enjoy themselves. She is also an avid traveler and is looking forward to her next cultural exchange.
"More than anything, my work uses narrative as a design tool for positive change."
Rubin is a designer with experience designing movie theaters, industrial, and retail spaces around the States. He is currently working on new projects for a major, globally renowned client. From work with the marketing teams at Taubman College at the University of Michigan - where he earned his Master's in Architecture - to a multitude of graphic design jobs, he has become comfortable at managing branding while creating artistic narratives. In what little spare time he has, Rubin pursues an active art and photography business, selling his works online and doing frequent photoshoots from his home base in Seattle.
" I envision leading L.A.-based spatial programming events, designing competitions/design projects, and constantly looking for new opportunities that enable me to grow within the larger communities of Los Angeles."
Jonathan 's work prioritizes the empathetic responsibility of architects to make an impact in their cities. Through the completion of a variety of design/build projects, he has had the privilege to experience the positive impact that design can have on the urban fabric. Born in Chicago and raised in the suburbs with a brief stint in Paris, Jonathan Sharp lives and works in Los Angeles. He navigates Los Angeles in a non-traditional way; by foot. He prefers the bus over rail, but prefer a bicycle or skateboard above all else. He holds a Masters of Architecture I degree from Tulane University in New Orleans and was a member of the inaugural Free School of Architecture class in Los Angeles.
"I appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of individual cultures and am particularly interested in exploring how collaboration cross-culturally in conversations and design would look."
Olga is a designer based in Phoenix, whose work has been focused on educational projects. Her interest in community impact reflects through her advocacy for inclusion and opportunities for minorities. In addition to her work, Olga is among the founding members of the NOMA Arizona chapter where she is working closely with design college students at her Alma mater. Her passion for mentoring students reflects through her role as the chapter’s College Liaison, leading job search seminars for students and creating an internship placement program. She holds Master’s degrees in Architecture and Urban Design from Arizona State University. Aside from community engagement, Olga is an avid artist and traveler, where she enjoys immersing herself in other cultures and documenting her experiences through sketching or painting.
"I am enamored by humanistic experiences that manifest towards sustainable, inclusive, and systematic built form."
Brian, an architect, painter, educator, and yogi, resides in Detroit, having lived in Japan and Poland, too. He thrives as a nimble collaborator, engaged on projects and research locally and globally, on just about all continents, in virtually all scales, and in almost every facet of the construction industry - name one and it's likely under his belt. Brian's assorted experiences support his holistic beliefs of balance, knowledge, and curious humility as critical foundations of change...aspects he parallels closely to yoga and life. He is particularly intrigued by pursuits where learning and complex sensitivities are most integral. Brian enjoys endurance races and volunteers in youth athletics. A foodie and traveler, he loves to explore unique holes-in-the-wall and authentically spirited moments. He is a devout mentor and furniture-maker in his spare time, and will gladly kick back with a drink over rich, respectful conversation.