interior design

Black History Month Spotlight: Anishka Clarke

by Grace Bonney


In the past nearly 13 years of blogging here at Design*Sponge, there have been a few interiors that stand out in my memory and my heart. And the incredible goldenrod staircase (below) that Ishka Designs created is one of them. Based in Brooklyn, NY, Ishka Designs is the design team of Anishka Clarke and Niya Bascom. I had the honor of meeting Anishka and working with her for In the Company of Women and I found myself endlessly inspired by her design sensibility and her beyond-her-years wisdom. So for today’s Black History Month spotlight I’m thrilled to be talking about Anishka Clarke and her work. Read on after the jump to learn more about Anishka — and catch an excerpt of her interview from the book! xo, grace

Photography by Sasha Israel for In the Company of Women

Portelette Project Paris - 11 Rue Daniel Stern


Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Anishka actually came to interior design as a second career. After working in finance for 10 years (a great skill set to bring into any self-owned business!), Anishka decided to pursue her love of interiors and open a firm in New York. Her chic, minimal style is something she credits to a “waste-not upbringing” she inherited from her mother. And now that style can be seen in projects around the world from Jamaica and New York to Paris. I love the way Anishka is able to work bold splashes of color into each project — it’s those vivid moments of orange, yellow, red and green that make her memorable spaces stand out. Below is an excerpt from Anishka’s interview in In the Company of Women — I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

At what point in your life did you first learn about your field of work? What called you to it?

I was a year or two into owning my first apartment and somewhat unhappy in my finance career. My choice of décor and innovative wall solution led friends to my door wanting me to assist with their own.  One late November while in the process of decorating one such friend’s home, I had a call with a jeweler friend. She was lamenting the fact that her assistant was leaving for a better paying job with perks etc. because her husband was going back to school to study architecture. He was doing what? At age 30? Ding ding ding! The next day I picked two NYC based schools and submitted my application a few days later.  The rest is history.

What does the world need more of? Less of?

We need more positive media, news and people. We need more diversity. We need more hugs. We need more support systems.

We need less of mindless reality TV. We need less negative news. We need less ignorance, less homogenous thinking and fewer judgments.


How has learning from a mistake ever led to success for you? Walk us through that.

One of the first and best lessons we learned very early on was how to manage expectations. We had quite the fiasco of a project in our first year and since then we are very careful how we manage expectations, always emphasizing both the best and worst case scenarios from the jump.

What quotation or saying inspires you and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love?

“It takes 10 years to become an overnight success.”

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  • I’m speechless… this is the best home tour ever !! I love it so much !! The colors, the restrain, the elegance and yet the personality… I wish my home looked like this.

    “More hugs, less ignorance”… yes please !!

  • As I was reading this and looking through the photos, I thought, “I’ve seen that fireplace before…”. Turns out Niya was my Airbnb host — possibly in another part of that house, or in another brownstone they worked on with the same fireplace? Either way, he was a truly lovely person and they’re both obviously so talented — kudos to both of them for creating such beautiful spaces.

  • Inspiring in many ways! I just graduate in architecture + urban planning and I’m facing this dillema of being a black woman into this not-so-friendly-to-people-like-me field. Also many times I feel too old (I’m about to turn 27) and anxious for seeing things happening. This short interview tackled them all at once.

    BTW, love Design Sponge, Grace, and I got your first book a few years ago – absolutely love it. Didn’t know about the “In the Company of Women” one, but I’ll certainly check it out.

    Much happiness in your life!

    Cheers from Brazil!

  • Can’t believe I missed this! Thanks so much Grace…you are such a needed powerhouse in our world. And thanks for all the wonderful comments people!


  • So immensely proud of this young lady! Honored to know her! Congrats Anishka, continue to make your mark on this world !

  • This was a great article. So very proud of you and the beautiful work that Ishka Designs does Anishka! <3

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