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Media Release

The brand embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion uniquely into Canada’s design- build industry.

The brand embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion uniquely into Canada’s design- build industry.

Ian Rolston

Lead Decanthropist at Decanthropy


D.E.I. Three letters with a HUGE responsibility.

UPDATED November 24, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Thursday, September 8, 2022 — Toronto, ON.    At Decanthropy, the corporate language is diversity, equity, and inclusion by design and through design. The firm is empowering the design-build community of developers, architects, and interior designers, suppliers, and financiers to take up the mantle of DE&I and incorporate it into their brand protocols and project goals. Why them? For years these disciplines have spearheaded development in and of our live, work, play attitudes and aptitudes. Because life happens in all the spaces we occupy. Who better to lead the way than those critical to the creation of those spaces?

There’s no doubt 2020 was a year of upheaval that, at the very least, brought a new lexicon to our workday language and a refocus on corporate diversity. Businesses rushed to establish the boardroom and brand lingo, put committees in place to examine their corporate responsibility, and were quick to showcase their, dare we say, token representatives of fair play. But is this enough?

Meet the man leading the charge for greater responsibility of intentionally designed diverse and inclusive spaces. Ian Rolston is an interior designer with a passion for built environments, particularly for hospitality, corporate, and institutional projects. He has written about his personal experiences in the design world, having found himself excluded from meetings and opportunities, or having his skill set questioned prior to a presentation. He is no stranger to institutional inequities. He has worked for some of the biggest interior design firms in North America, and he believes it’s time to rethink design and reposition the industry as masterminds of social impact. Now, in his role at Decanthropy, an equity design consultancy delivering social change through corporate equity initiatives, Rolston empowers business leaders to make their spaces equitable, shifting their thinking about how the world designs. Not just the spaces they design, but the spaces they influence, including their own corporate culture. He’s changing the way we think about the role of interior design and moving the conversations of DE&I beyond the boardroom to actionable practices.

“Our approach derives from questioning how best to serve humanity. We humans do very human things – we meet, fall in love, heal, care, play – in spaces created by other humans. Think for a moment, we will develop the cure for cancer it will be is a space that was design. What and awesome responsibility we have as designer!” – Ian Rolston, Lead Decanthropist, Decanthropy

“Our approach derives from questioning how best to serve humanity. We humans do very human things – we meet, fall in love, heal, care, play – in spaces created by other humans. Think for a moment, we will develop the cure for cancer it will be is a space that was design. What and awesome responsibility we have as designer!” – Ian Rolston, Lead Decanthropist, Decanthropy



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Decanthropy’s fundamental ideology is that design can and should affect systemic social change. Through company workshops, brand consultations, project collaborations, and project audits, Decanthropy ensures DE&I is foundational – built into the system of creativity and the team creating the space. The name Decanthropy was taken from Rolston’s belief that DEsign CAN be philanTHROPY. Design can give and do more to serve humanity. As lead Decanthropist, he leads design-build firms through customized introspective exercises uncovering biased internal practices and sometimes personal preconceptions as well. The process is tailored to the team and/or the project. The aim is to reframe the work process, reposition design for the human experience, and deliver a better product with a greater impact on the lives lived within those spaces. Decanthropy argues that the business of design has become a transactional commodity, a mere exchange of compensation for a concept delivered within a specified time frame, at times creating a diminished outcome for the sake of profit. The design-build industry has been trained to pump out solutions while the media and public have glommed on to the aesthetic of spaces. Decanthropy challenges us to evaluate whether this process is design or delivery. Rolston engages leadership teams to create equity protocol opportunities, apply them to the design process, the project, and project collaborators, then measure the outcome for business sustainability and profitability. Decanthropy's holistic approach to equity is to support companies in assessing: How they think about equity as a brand, how it’s embedded in their work,and how equity shows up in overall business strategies. All of which ensures authenticity.

Traditional practices should consider engaging experts to develop strategies that address the specific needs of the organization. Rolston and his team want us to shift from purely aesthetic to understanding design as a critical service to the well-being of humanity with a generational impact. After all, building humanity is better building.

“The interior design industry's one-and-done approach to delivering finished products has diminished our value as creators of our collective spaces. We’ve learned to engage Business Development consultants, Marketing consultants, upped our game with accessibility and LEED credentials, and now it’s time for DE&I specialists to become part of the design-build process.” – Ian Rolston, Lead Decanthropist, Decanthropy

With more than half of today’s job seekers considering workplace diversity an important factor when seeking employment opportunities, creating an inclusive workplace is central to attracting and retaining talented employees. Companies are being held accountable for their authentic representation by the emerging talent they are seeking to hire. The human race needs design more than ever. Design thinking solves problems, and the problem at-hand is closing the gap between rhetoric and real-world practice, creating connected experiences in environments that support LIFE as it is, not as it has been touted.

“It’s no longer sufficient to issue statements of inclusivity. We need measurable plans of action and reports on progress. Launching Decanthropy is my way of providing the design-build industry with access to equity strategies specific to the needs of a creative agency.” – Ian Rolston, Decanthropy

ABOUT Decanthropy

Decanthropy is an equity innovation studio for the industry of the built environment. The brand works with executive leadership teams to shift thinking and embed structural equity throughout the organization affecting change in the places, processes, and projects they design.

Decanthropy. Equity engineers for social impact.

Ian Rolston is a design leader, equity analyst, thought leader, public speaker, and mentor. He has occupied the role of President for the national inteiror design association, Interior Designers of Canada (IDC), he is a Registered member at the Association of Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO), a site auditor of Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and has served on the Board of Black Architects and Interior Designers Association (BAIDA). He believes design can lead the way in establishing dignity for our fellow human beings and collaborates with the design-build industry to accomplish this.

Ian has been a podcast guest on Canadian Interiors' BEVEL  and Defining Hospitality with Dan Ryan

He has written two articles for Canadian Interiors; "Behind Closed Doors" in 2020 and "Revisiting Behind Close Doors" in 2022. He has spoken openly about the missed opportunities and the hope for social impact that lies within the design-build industry: national association IDC,  industry supplier Jenn-Air's Disrupting Design program and Canadian interior design giant Figure3.

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