June 25, 2024

Last year, Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu published an essay on the website for her brand Making the Body a Home about a new concept she describes as “interior race theory.” As she outlines in the proposal, we can creatively resist structures of domination within the home by challenging ourselves to think about the ways in which politics are embedded into the built environment and encouraging more “racial wellness” within the spaces that we create—especially with regards to the objects that we curate. 

The idea for interior race theory stemmed from Jacquelyn’s experiences as a Black woman in spaces dominated by whiteness and the many instances where she found herself asking, “What would it look like to come back to a space that felt safe?” As she further interrogated this question, Jacquelyn thought about how this perspective could be applied to design. “The design discipline is viewed as something that’s very race neutral; there’s always the lack of intersectional thinking,” she says, wondering, “How are factors such as race or gender intersecting with the design space, and how can we utilize those ways of thinking to create spaces that are resisting harmful, cultural [biases]?”

After reading bell hooks’ essay “Homeplace: A Site of Resistance,” Jacquelyn started digging deeper into hooks’ philosophies around creating intimate spaces that help people deal with the hostility of racial oppression and decompress from the trauma of being dehumanized—hooks often spoke about the importance of homeplace in community care. In an ideal world, all spaces would function as places for “restoration, remembrance, and resistance,” as Jacquelyn explains it. This is what ultimately inspired the creative to combine her interests in racial well-being, interior design, and material culture to further examine how the objects we fill our interiors with inform our racialized identities and how we feel. 

“It’s this idea that we can stimulate racial wellness in our homes through objects that we’re interacting with and use in our daily lives, such as furniture, decor, or homeware,” she explains. “What’s really interesting about it is it can be helpful for communities of color who are obviously experiencing racism and need spaces to restore themselves, but it could also be helpful for white folks who benefit from racism and need spaces to unlearn [that].” 

A portrait of poet and author Alice Walker in her San Francisco home in 1989.

A portrait of poet and author Alice Walker in her San Francisco home in 1989.

Anthony Barboza/Getty Images


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