Pledge & Bursary Award

design for diversity,Kate Watson- Smyth, Kate & interior designer Rukmini Patel have set up the ‘Design for Diversity’,mad about the house, blackpop


Blackpop were keen to do the right thing from the start and set this Bursary up with a genuine commitment and integrity for the scheme to play a small part in making the design world a more diverse place.

The aim of the ‘Bursary+X’ scheme in its 1st year was to support a Student of Colour through a year long program of mentoring, designing and realising a number of designs. Blackpop would then print these designs onto their trade mark velvet and have cushions made up. The next stage to launch an exposure campaign showcasing the bursary winner with their designs/products, in the hope that in part this will be a launch pad for their career.

Jessica Boateng was chosen to be the first recipient of the Bursary+X

Blackpop linked up with their local university, the University of Derby. Jessica Boateng was nominated, Jessica is a 3rd year British Ghanaian textile student, incidentally her dissertation was on the lack of black designers in the interior design industry.

Jessica came to visit Blackpop's studio and showroom in October 2020 where she was introduced to Maxine, Paula and Blackpop's collections - this was the only time they met in person, a week later England went into lockdown! Plans had been made to get together with Jessica for 12 monthly workshops, a slight change of plan transpired into fortnightly Zoom sessions with Maxine facilitating Photoshop workshops, discussions and developments. 

Through mentoring and technical guidance Jessica produced several designs, 3 of which were chosen to go to print and they had 3 velvet cushion templates printed and duck feather filled cushions made up.

The next time they met in person was in June 2021 for a photo shoot with Jessica and her fabulous cushions. They are now in the process of completing the final part of our journey with Jessica, the aim was not only to mentor and teach her but also to help her on her way to join the interior design community.

Jessica Boateng's Cushions 

Jessica Boateng is a Textile Designer, specializing in Print. Born and raised in Nottingham she has just completed her BA (Hons) Textile Design at the University of Derby.

After developing a strong passion for colours and patterns from African textiles, Jessica was craving to learn more about the cloths style and content throughout her studio practice. African textiles are the closest thing into acknowledging her African roots, they contain so much ethnicity, cultural diversity, bold and vivid colours, captivating patterns and most importantly…
Africa’s historical and complex background.

Jessica is known for her authentic concepts, cultural references, quirky patterns and vivid colours. All these qualities stimulate her to express her story in a sincere and unapologetic way. Plus, her designs deliver upbeat, playful and invigorating products for Interiors.

On seeing her cushions for the first time Jessica said

Wow, I can’t believe they’re mine.
This is the first time I’ve had my designs made
into a product. When I first saw them, I could
have cried, happy tears.

Jessica's collection is now available to purchase, please contact us at or phone: 01629 356602 for more info.

To contact Jessica and see more of her Independent work please click here.