6 LGBTQ Design Experts on What Pride Means to Them

published Jun 28, 2019
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Credit: pavla

The LGBTQ community is an essential part of the home, design, and decor world. While every month is a time for LGBTQ designers, creators, and taste-makers to embrace their identity and push for greater inclusion in the industry, June—aka Pride month—is an especially visible and important time. As Pride month wraps up, we asked a few LGBTQ design experts about what Pride means to them—especially in their work. Here’s what they had to say, and how to support equality all year ’round.

Credit: Bijou Candles
Alaina Drew and Jocelyn Drew, Co-Founders of Bijou Candles

Jocelyn Drew, Co-Founder and President of Bijou Candles

“Pride month is huge for us! June is our wedding anniversary and [partner and co-founder of Bijou Candles] Alaina’s birthday typically falls right on NYC pride, so we are celebrating all month long. Like us, Bijou has pride in its DNA and it’s something we feel we celebrate all year round. It’s inherent for us and for Bijou because it’s who we are—that doesn’t change in June. We are still supporting fellow LGBTQ-owned businesses, spending time with our queer family, and going to all the amazing pride events. For us that’s our normal routine, but it is really great to see everyone come together and spread the love and remember how we got here… and where we need to go.”

Alaina Drew, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Bijou Candles

“Social media has democratized design in a huge way, so it’s a lot easier to find designers and makers that create very specific kinds of products inspired by interests that align with your own. For example, if you loved something super niche growing up as a queer kid, it’s now entirely possible to find a throw pillow or something that references that specific thing by a designer who was inspired by the same thing. We feel like we try to deliver that idea with Bijou, using specific references as inspiration in hopes that we connect with someone that gets it. You you weren’t the only kid obsessed with Willow from “Buffy” as the first teen lesbian character you saw on TV. We love the idea of creating community around design, something that we can all take as a kind of wink at each other like, ‘Hey, I get you.’”

Credit: Jonathan Adler

Jonathan Adler, Designer, Potter, and Author

“I moved to New York 30 years ago.  The gay community—my community—was in the middle of an existential crisis.  I didn’t imagine anyone I knew would even be alive in 2019. So, this Pride, I’m proud that we’ve made so much progress in the fight against AIDS. I’m proud that we’ve come so far in our journey for civil rights. I’m proud to live in a country where young gay people can look forward to a colorful future.  I’ve never been prouder to be a part of the LGBTQ community. I can’t wait to see what the next 30 years has in store for us.”

Credit: Apparatus
Jeremy Anderson and Gabriel Hendifar, Co-Founders of Apparatus

Gabriel Hendifar Co-Founder and Creative Director of Apparatus

“We [partner and co-founder Jeremy Anderson] got married two years ago on the Friday of Pride weekend in New York, so this time of year is personally very meaningful for us. More than anything though, it’s a reminder of the people who fought so hard for our right to be seen, to marry and be celebrated. 

We stand on the shoulders of the decades of brave LGBTQ people who have worked tirelessly for these rights. In this particular moment, when the hard-fought gains of our community are being eroded, it feels particularly important to be a visibly queer studio: To realize that design doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We have an opportunity to align with the causes we feel are important and to be a place that celebrates diversity and inclusivity among our staff. Really, we get to create a microcosm of what we believe this country could and should be.”

Credit: John McClain

John McClain, Interior Designer

“What I have learned over my 43 years on this planet and 23 years as an out gay man is  that if I am my true self, there is nothing else I have to be concerned with.

I was living in Orlando, Florida during the Pulse Nightclub massacre and that was truly an eye-opening experience. It was then that I really understood that no matter how many advancements we make, there is always something that could happen to make us more woke. It was also at that time that I became fully cognizant of the fact that I needed to put myself out there more. I felt it was my responsibility to really get all of the details out to my friends and family who did not understand how significant this tragedy was. 

To me, even the smallest steps such as a social media post or an email to someone, can make big changes in our world. I think representation of gay pride is important for all of us in the LGBTQ community and as an interior designer and gay business owner.  I love being a positive role model to other up and coming gay designers who need proof that we can overcome obstacles, be authentic, and ultimately be successful.”

Credit: Alessi

Alberto Alessi, President of Alessi

“Alessi, for the fourth year, is honored to actively continue our important collaboration with (RED). Our mission as a design company is to create objects which try to satisfy people’s hidden desire for art and poetry. Creativity is, therefore, at the base of our daily activity and we think that, at the same time, it puts us in a privileged position which allows us to help other people. Alessi, in fact, has always shown great commitment to values such as diversity and unity; values that fully reflect our identity. We thank (RED) for giving us the opportunity to support their noble purpose.”