Black Friday: Norma Merrick Sklarek [1926-2012] – Architect

 Hello, loves!  It’s the first Black Friday post of the year, and am I ever excited about today’s featured designer.

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Norma Merrick Sklarek in the 1970s

I usually focus on fashion, interior, and event design, but this week, I want to share someone that has inspired me to be courageous and follow my heart’s authentic desires. There are so many times we look up to others to inspire us…but in reality, we should be measuring ourselves by the person we are today and the person we can be tomorrow.

“The schools had a quota and it was obvious, a quota against women and a quota against blacks. In architecture, I absolutely had no role model. I am happy today to be a role model for others that follow.”

Born on April 15, 1926, Norma Merrick Sklarek was one of the first African-American women to receive an architectural degree, and owned one of the largest women-owned design firms (Siegel, Sklarek, Diamond) in America during the 1980s.

1986 staff file photo of architects from left: Margot Siegel, Norma Sklarek and Katherine Diamond (all A.T.A.)

She was a graduate of Columbia University, but had much difficulty finding a job in the field upon graduation.  Landing a position at the New York City Public Works, she worked there for a while before taking the state test and receiving her architect’s license.  Skidmore, Owings, Merrill then hired her, but she still faced barriers because of her race and gender.  Moving to Gruen Associates in the 1960s and climbing the corporate ladder, she became the leading technical architect for designing the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the Pacific Design Center, and the Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport.

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US Embassy in Tokyo, Japan

As a “highly visible” employee, Sklarek held herself to a noteworthy standard; she was described by colleagues as punctual, and was “mentally the strongest person” Marshall Purnell knew in the field.  Her incredible production management skills and ability to “see in 3D” landed Sigel, Sklarek, Diamond $50 million deals, and she was known for coming in under budget and on time. The autonomous woman she was, Sklarek knew that her passion for megaprojects was where her skills were best used, so she left her firm after three years.

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Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, CA

Because of the era’s racial tension, Sklarek did not always receive honor when honor was due.  But today, Mrs. Sklarek, we salute your passion, ingenuity, skill, and legacy.

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Norma Merrick Sklarek, April 15, 1926-February 6, 2012


Inc.comLA TimesNorthStar News



Black Friday: Designs By Onye

It’s Black Friday here at VieDesign, and this week we’ve asked a phenomenal artist, Onye with Designs by Onye, a few questions about her 20 years of artistry.  Inspired by mathematics and chemistry, her artwork is not only beautiful, but boldly creative and original.

Check out the question and answer session below!

A little about Onye: 

 Born in Nigeria, raised in MD,  Onye attended college at Tallahassee, FL (FAMU) and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. She now lives in Indiana.

Alongside art (beads, jewelry-making, micro-tile print-making & various crafts), her interests include ministry (she’s a licensed deacon), computer & information technology, global culture & unique subcultures, upcycling, interior design & administration.

How did you get started in jewelry making?
I joke with people that ‘I’ve been crafty all my life’, so it naturally makes sense for me to be passionate about jewelry-making. Specifically at age 13, because of my Nigerian background, my mother always had our (traditional African) clothes sewn by a seamstress. One summer, I started to notice that a certain fabric she cut would liberate tiny plastic ‘pearls’ and I would collect them from her cutting-area floor. Carrying them home and I practiced ‘sewing’ them together and created daisy chains (not knowing there was a stitch ‘established’, or a whole culture of beadwork yet to be discovered). I spied a girl wearing one made of seed beads (a fellow freshman at my high school) and asked her if she’d let me borrow the necklace over the span of a weekend. Without disassembling her precious neckwear, I figured out how to recreate the chain with beads I had, then (triumphantly) returned her piece to her. After that I was hooked. ‘All daisy-chain everything’ was my fixation. My initial attempt at a business name was ‘DaisyHaze’ (and I still have the business card!). I harassed my mother at least weekly to allow me to purchase beads at the fabric store alongside her fabric purchasing; I began to examine and compare beads, stringing material, and different beading elements. Since I knew the ‘habit’ was going to get expensive, I started selling my creations to my friends. I even created a ledger book where I wrote up orders for rings, bracelets, anklets & necklaces and tracked all my ‘inventory’. They began to recognize my face at the fabric stores my mom frequented, not for her regularity but because of my tendency to almost always have a list of bead colors that I’d be requesting to be refilled (I had not yet discovered the joys of bead and craft stores). The next evolution occurred when my art teacher of 3 years rewarded my service (I helped clean her room every year before school would let out for the summer) with a trip to a craft store. I purchased my first set of jewelry-making tools, my first Bead & Button magazine, and a modest treasure trove of various beads. I started teaching myself the basics of jewelry assembly and learning about the vast quality differences in beads, as well as learning many of the other techniques and eventually became a subscriber of Bead & Button magazine.

What are the materials that you use on a daily basis?
My life feels somewhat incomplete unless I use seed beads every single day. Whether it’s embellishing an existing piece or creating the framework for something new, 99% of the time, seed beads and monofilament are involved.

What other materials would you like to explore?
I want to explore using sturdy, non-bead materials to sculpt ‘life-sized’ versions of my creations (think: wood slabs, PVC pipe, foam shapes).

What inspires you when creating?
God… what doesn’t?! Art doesn’t just imitate life, it is inspired by it. Specifically and more regularly, I am in complete love with mathematics as my muse, as expressed by the 5 platonic solids (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron) and Archimedean solids (many combinations of the 5 platonics, too many to name without boring you), as well as chemical structures (which are also very regularly related to and expressed in platonic and Archimedean geometry) my favorite being the buckminsterfullerene a.k.a. the Bucky-Ball, a Carbon-60 molecule shaped like a soccerball and the basis of nanotechnology. The chemical was first discovered and synthesized by Buckminster Fuller.

Do you create any other type of art?
I love isometric drawing and hand-building with clay. I desire in the future to use some of my isometric drawings in screen-printing (which I need to either learn or contract) for interior design & fashions (home furnishings & clothing).

What is your favorite color(s)?: All things Blue, but especially cobalt blue and baby blue (my ‘pink substitute’).

Who are your favorite musical artists? favorite artists?
Music: Sade, Coldplay, The Fray, Imogen Heap, Jem, Bjork, Radiohead, Tori Amos, Natasha Bedingfield, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Evanescence, Mos Def, Common, Talib Kwelli, India Arie, Israel & New Breed, J.Moss, Martha Munizi, Florence & the Machine, Soundgarden, Nirvana, the Foo Fighters, U2, Incubus, Linkin Park, David Gray, Maroon 5, PJ Harvey, Jewel, Kings of Leon, Live, Soundgarden, Lfehouse, Switchfoot, the Cranberries, Augustana, Hugh Masakela, Fela Kuti, Angelique Kidjo, Incognito, Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill, Goapele, Ledisi……
(so I have no singular ‘favorite’ is what this superbly-long, unfinished list really says. I listen to what uplifts my soul and/or reflects my emotions. My ears have eclectic taste!)
Bead Art: Valerie Hector, Gwen Fisher & Florence Turnour (BeadInfinitum), Heather Collin, Carol Wells, Eva Maria Keiser
Other Art: M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, Picasso, George Hart, Sandor Kabai

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
Such a loaded question. I see myself as a manifestation of success, and yet still very much a work in progress. As I dream of ‘being’, I begin to see the strategy in ‘doing’. It’s not an easy thing, attempting to live from the center of God’s hand (especially when the art is beautiful, but not yet enough to feed me). I give God praise for blessing me with so many creative gifts, wisdom, insight and most of all, patience. I’m on a path that has been course-corrected many times, has had pitfalls, trap doors, and sometimes even signs pointing me back to what’s behind me. But in all things, I remain grateful, productive, and progressively moving forward.

Black Friday: Smith Boyd Interiors

Good afternoon, lovelies!
We’re back with our Black Friday series and I’ve got the perfect inspiration for you!
Here is Michel Boyd, lead designer/owner of Smith Boyd Interiors in Atlanta, GA and one of the hottest new designers around.

His work exemplifies the deep understanding of the balance between modern and traditional, and is fresh and youthful.  Designing residential and commercial spaces his forte is creating boutique bedrooms, treating them as the “ultimate hotel suite.”

“I explore my client’s style, lifestyles, and overall ideas about living.  My job as an interior designer is to introduce things that would have never been considered, yet achieve the right balance of each client’s ideals and reality.”


My favorite project from his website would have to be the Hampton Townhome’s living room.  The seaglass colored walls, velvet armless chairs, and the round coffee tables are just…amazing.  The balance of the straight and curved lines within this room is impeccable! And, oh! the natural light!!

Click here for more inspiration

Check him out on Twitter!

100 Black-Owned Etsy Shops: Week Two

We’re back with our Black Friday posts, and this week we’ve got some great shops for you to visit.  Go on ‘head, drool, and #BuyBlack!
For the second week:
Aromas & Scents
Scented Soy Candles

Aroma Therapy

Ewa Madam

Vintage Pointe
Vintage Jewelry, Home Decor, Clothes


Perfect Piece 1916
Handcrafted Raw Jewelry


Daisy Giles

Heal & Flourish
Body Care

L.A. Farm Girl

Jams & Jellies