Today, the Female Design Council (FDC), together with AD100 designer Nicole Hollis, has announced its newest grant recipient will be Brooklyn-based designer Little Wing Lee. Intended as a means of supporting BIPOC female-identifying designers, the grant awards $15,000 to a single recipient. In addition to that financial support—which is intended to be used to expand firm size or produce new design collections—Lee will also receive mentorship from Hollis’s studio.
In April 2021, Hollis initiated a benefit auction through her Instagram account to raise money for the prize, receiving extensive support from establishments like Friedman Benda, Gallery FUMI, the Future Perfect, and others.
“We are fortunate to be able to provide financial support and mentorship to advance equity in design,” Lora Appleton, FDC’s founder, says. “Nicole Hollis and the larger design community came together to provide resources for this much-needed grant program. We are humbled by the action and look forward to continued success supporting womxn of color in design.”
Lee—who has more than 15 years of multidisciplinary design experience—works across interiors, architecture, and environmental design. The designer started her career in documentary television and film, where she worked on numerous Oscar- and Emmy-nominated projects. After studying landscape architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and earning her Master’s in interior design at Pratt Institute, Lee worked at several prestigious studios, including Apparatus, SOM, Rockwell Group, and Ace Hotel Group (where she remains the current design director).
In 2019, Lee started her own firm, Studio & Projects. Since its debut, the multifaceted design office has been a projection of Lee’s unique vision, offering all aspects of home projects—from interior design and architecture to custom furniture, lighting, and finishes.
“I’m looking forward to using a portion of the award to fund two product development projects we initiated earlier this year: a rug design collaboration and a small furniture collection,” Lee says. “We’re at an inflection point, and this grant will give me the opportunity and momentum to build and invest in future projects.”
Currently, the designer is in the midst of working on Ray Harlem, a large-scale community project in New York City, alongside Frida Escobedo and Handel Architects. The structure will consist of rental residential units, retail, and event space for the National Black Theatre. True to Lee’s thoughtful design process, interiors will incorporate references to the Harlem landscape and culture.
In addition to winner Lee, other grant honorees include Anne Dereaux, Cherub “Chopp” Stewart, Laura Casanas Maya, Teruko Kushi, and Urvi Sharma. Those honorees will receive a year of FDC membership, as well as access to the organization’s Mentor Match program.
“We envisioned the FDC + NICOLEHOLLIS Grant to encourage and support a brighter, and more equitable, future for design, and with the announcement of our first winner and honorees, we’ve begun,” Hollis shares. “I’m so excited to see what our winner Little Wing and our honorees do next.”