Meet the Commerce Design Jurors

Penelope de la Madrid
Founder, Abaka Interiores

Penelope is an Interior Designer from Puebla, MX, a fellow City of Design, who started her career as a freelance designer. Her relentless experimentation with the third dimension lead her to design furniture for various projects, architects and furniture stores. In 2011, she founded her own studio: Ábaka Interiores, as a multidisciplinary creative team, designing spaces that communicate and generate sensations, breaking with the traditional schemes of interior design.

Penelope is an enthusiastic organizer of design events for the creative community of her city, Puebla, Mexico, that is member of the UNESCO creative cities network.

“For me Interior Design is not decorating. It is to create environments that envelop all the senses and awaken sensations, memories and desires, forms, textures and objects that communicate at the perceptual level and cause a long-term memory impact. It is to make objects and spaces communicate stories.”


Sandra Olave
Chair, Interior Design, College for Creative Studies

Sandra Olave has served as an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Interior Design Department at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) for 15 years. During her tenure at CCS, she facilitated the Interior Design department advancement, through sponsored projects, accreditations, recruitment efforts, professional accomplishments, and above all, teaching.

Olave has led sponsor projects with companies such as Quicken Loans, Ford, dPOP, 36th District Court, Toray, Czarnoswki, Shinola, Detroit Public Library, and Henry Ford Cancer Institute. Thanks to organizations like these, the Interior Design students at CCS are receiving real-world experiences that develop their critical thinking skills and business acumen, both necessary for top job placement and employment. Additionally, through these sponsorships students receive grants, internships and diverse opportunities.

Olave’s Interior Design practice focus on the environment experience, projects include, Spiralz, (Jewelry store, recipient of the Birmingham Historical District Storefront Award), First National Building (FNB) Lobby, Straith Clinic, Campbell Ewald Ideation Rooms, aspects of the In-Voyage Hotel in Laguna Beach, California, as well as several Residential projects.


Rochelle Riley
Writer and Columnist, Detroit Free Press

Rochelle Riley, who always works with two phones, is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press, where she is a leading voice for children, education, competent government and race. She is author of “The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery” (Wayne State University Press, 2018). She also is a co-founder of Letters to Black Girls, a project that grew from a single presentation to a national mission to pass words of encouragement from black women to girls. She has won numerous national, state and local honors, including a National Headliner Award for local column writing. Rochelle is a global traveler who has been to 28 countries and counting.

Pierre Roberson RA, NCARB
Project Architect, Design Lead, Building + Places AECOM

Pierre is a licensed architect and is currently AECOM’s Michigan Design Practice Lead.  His past experience includes working on a wide variety of project types as an architectural designer for ROSSETTI and S3 Architecture.  He has also worked as adjunct faculty at Lawrence Technological University and has held numerous computational design workshops at the University of Michigan and General Motors.  He graduated from the University of Michigan and Lawrence Technological University with a BS in Architecture and M.Arch respectively. Pierre brings a unique balance of valuable design sensibility joined with exceptional technical expertise.


Eric S. Thomas
Senior Partner, Saga Marketing

Eric Thomas is a Brand Strategist and Senior Partner at Detroit-based Saga. During his nearly decade long career he has worked with hundreds of businesses and organizations to help them develop their brands and find their voice through Brand Storytelling.

While seeking broader opportunities to help businesses understand storytelling, his blog on LinkedIn has experienced tremendous success. In under a year his writing has been viewed over 2.1 million times and been republished across the globe; his most viewed article to date, “How to make Millennials hate you, The Pepsi Way” (550,000) dissected the controversial commercial fueling conversation around conscious marketing. His famed, “Why I Hate Detroit article (134,516)” sparked heavy discussion around the world of Detroit’s real reality.