Celebrating International Women’s Day: #InspireInclusion Through Conversations with Inspirational Women in Commercial Interiors – Cherrill Scheer

This International Women’s Day, Design Insider is proud to embrace the 2024 campaign theme: #InspireInclusion. We are delighted to present a series of interviews with some of the most inspirational women in the commercial interiors community—each playing a pivotal role in shaping the industry.

Inclusion is a pathway to innovation, creativity, and empowerment. When we inspire inclusion, we not only celebrate diversity but also harness the rich perspectives and ideas that drive our industry forward. This year, we’re highlighting the voices of Inspirational Women who aren’t just participating in the commercial interiors sector but are actively shaping its future to be more inclusive, vibrant, and dynamic.

Cherrill Scheer (1940 – 2024), Founder of Cherrill Scheer & Associates was invited to be one of our Inspirational women prior to her death on 3rd February 2024, we are proud to be able to share her views and experiences as part of this series and extremely sad that she is no longer with us; there is no one who is more deserving of the title of Inspirational Woman.

In our conversation, we delve into how Cherrill interprets #InspireInclusion within the context of her work and the broader commercial interiors sector. We explore her personal experiences, the success stories that have marked her journey, and the collective strides we can make toward a more inclusive industry. Moreover, we discover the women who have inspired her and how she, in turn, serves as a beacon of inspiration for others.

Join us as we celebrate Cherrill’s achievements, insights, and stories, and let’s continue to #InspireInclusion every day in every way.

Cherrill Scheer (1940 – 2024), Founder of Cherrill Scheer & Associates

Please could you introduce yourself and your role?

I was born into the furniture industry which led me to study architecture at Kingston School of Art and The Architectural Association. I automatically joined the family Company, Hille International, eventually becoming Group Marketing Director with responsibility for briefing and promoting furniture products Worldwide including the iconic Robin Day ‘Polypropylene’ range of chairs. I remained Marketing Director when Hille were purchased by Ergonom, and subsequentially by Wassal plc. Being dedicated to the benefits of modern design I wanted to devote more time to promoting design students and the furniture industry. I set up Cherrill Scheer & Associates, a PR and marketing consultancy advising architects, designers and bodies who wish to be more involved with modern design.

In 1993 I organised Design Renaissance, a very large Global international design conference in Glasgow on behalf of the main Design Associations in the World. I assembled 100 speakers on many different topics – it was very difficult to find women speakers to participate. I hope all these years later the task would be somewhat easier.

How do you interpret #inspireinclusion and what needs to happen to achieve this within the commercial interiors sector? 

To Inspire Inclusion and ensure that our design industry includes people from all diverse backgrounds we must encourage women of all backgrounds to enter the Industry and give them appropriate training and promotion. I believe in employing the best person for the job whatever the sex. However, women have always had to work harder to get to the top, despite in the past running the home and the children. Now I did not have this problem as my husband always shared the duties with me as I travelled to support our licensees around the World.

I am also fortunate that ageism does not seem to have been a deterrent in my work, however, there are many companies that will not even interview older women.

Now 50 years later, many women are successfully holding senior positions in the boardroom, sciences, education, and design establishment, but the ratio is still not high enough.

Are there any success stories of inclusion you would like to highlight?

In 2008 I co-founded, with Jonathan Hindle, ‘Design Guild Mark’, an award for British Designers of products in volume production. The Design Guild Mark Awards is unique in that it is not a competition; awards are given to all designs that judges deem to be of the highest standard. It has grown to become one of the most influential design programmes, starting out with only Furniture and progressing to now also include categories for Interior Design Elements, and Lighting. The Awards also strive to be as inclusive as possible – the designer isn’t discriminated against, the products/designs speak for themselves.

What does it feel like to be inspired by, and inspire, people around you?

My strong belief in good design has attracted organisations, young people, and students to seek advice in developing their ideas or provide a platform for their discussions. It inspires me that these people asking advice will provide good and inclusive design. Because of my desire to improve design education as well as promote modern design, I found it beneficial to be Chairman of the Design & Industries Association, on the Board of Governors of the London College of Furniture, London Metropolitan University and a Liveryman at The Furniture Makers Company.

Which inspirational women do you celebrate?

Many women have inspired me as they have won through despite all the odds against them.

Zandra Rhodes persevered with her brilliant textile fashion design and even managed to get built the Museum of Fashion and Textiles at great expense to herself.

Althea McNish, the textile designer born in Trinidad, herself inspired many, many young designers with her exuberance and excitement for their work. Although well known in design circles she only became more famous after her demise with a large exhibition being held and obtaining a Blue Plaque.

Nanna Ditzel was widowed at a very young age and left with 3 young daughters to bring up, initially in Denmark. She managed to become one of the World’s greatest furniture designers, also designing textiles, tableware, and jewellery for Georg Jensen. She enthused inspiration – when I walked around Copenhagen with her the general public would come up to her to shake her hand or point her out as a great designer.

Above all my mother, Ray Hille, was a great inspiration as she was respected as a designer and a manufacturer as early as the 1920s and 30s. She was still very involved with Hille up to 1984 and was always prepared to accept and resolve ways to manufacture new innovative design products. She understood the diverse problems of her staff, especially women, helping them with even their household problems. Despite all this she always had time for the extended family and running the home.

Thank you for reading this conversation. Discover more empowering stories from Inspirational Women in commercial interiors by clicking HERE to continue our #InspireInclusion series.

Join us in celebrating and learning from these influential voices!


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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