It’s International Women’s day and with 2018 already set to be a big one for us ladies with February seeing the 100 year anniversary for women’s suffrage, massive movements across borders and industries like Time’s Up, #MeToo and #PressforProgress and of course Mother’s day around the corner what better way to mark the occasion than with a post to celebrate three great working women, female designers who have smashed societal boundaries, making breathtaking creations that resonate in the world today. This one is for the girls…
Number 1 | Patricia Urquiola
Having been brought up in Spain she moved to Milan and immersed herself fully in the design scene, studying and lecturing in the design capital. A key fixture at Salon del Mobel, people wait in anticipation for her unique designs that always push boundaries and dictate fashions for years to come.
With huge names under her belt, designing for Cassina, Moroso and lighting collections for Flos to name a few, she’s an unyielding force, constantly shaping Italian design. For this, she’s been decorated with a range of accolades: Designer of the Year for Wallpaper and Elle Decor International, Designer of the Decade awarded by German magazines Home and Hauser as well as the Gold Medal of Fine Arts from the Spanish government.
Her distinctive style is generally hailed as minimalist in nature with a feminine twist. Empathetic towards the materials she uses, she’s not restricted by the myopic view some designers take to become commercially viable. Her Instagram posts are a delight to see, always super visual and exciting, this is truly a woman who lives and breathes her work, seeing beauty in design at all times.
Number 2 | Zaha Hadid
How can you have a list of great female designers without the late great Dame Zaha Hadid? A true inspiration, born in Iraq in the 50s she studied maths in Beirut before embarking on her architectural journey in 1972. The first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, her fearless designs and extraordinary creations were a result of her absolute single-mindedness and determination to fight for her place in a male-dominated profession. Sometimes touted as a diva, her uncompromising vision was unparalleled, constantly defying expectations and always breaking conventional barriers.
She was famously quoted to say: “as an architect, if you can in any way alleviate an oppressive situation, or elevate a culture, then I think that you should,” – an ideology she has lived by with her iconic creations including the Olympic aquatics centre in Stratford, the Guangzhou Opera House in China, the National Museum of the XXI Century Arts in Rome and the Vitra Fire Station in Germany. Her unfettered style can’t strictly be pinned down, but at a push could loosely be described as futuristic and sculptural, favouring asymmetrical facades and heavy industrial materials like steel, glass and concrete. Her far-reaching creativity knew no bounds, extending to product design with a range of furniture, lighting and bathroom hardware.
Sometimes criticised for her decisions, but always respected for her vision and drive; hailed the queen of the curve she’s left a lifelong legacy encouraging women to pick up her heavy mantle.
Number 3 | Eileen Gray
Born in 1878 near Enniscorthy Ireland, Eileen Gray was a pioneer. Openly bisexual and often an outsider, her achievements were restricted in her lifetime, posthumously, however, she’s an incredibly celebrated designer, lauded for inspiring both the Modern and Art Deco movements.
She was encouraged to pursue her artistic interests from an early age and became the first woman admitted to study painting at the Slade. She trained in lacquer work and cabinet making then moved on to eventually work as an architect and designer. Her first gallery was opened in 1922 in collaboration with the architecture critic Jean Badovici. The Galerie Jean Désertto sold rugs, furniture and lighting, exhibiting her love for chrome, steel tube and glass furniture, as well as geometric shapes. Breakthrough materials at the time, her distinctive design style can still be seen influencing the trends we have today.
One of her last pieces of work was with Zeev Aram, introducing her design to the world market. The E1027 adjustable table is an iconic and lasting piece, that is in the permanent collection of the V&A design museum. Punctilious till the end, Gray remained active into her 90s, working up to fourteen hours a day refining her portfolio and organizing her various furniture designs and projects – a true hero.
There’s still a shocking lack of female furniture and products designers, but with constantly emerging inspirational women flying the flag in the face of adversity and really pressing for progress, it gives me the hope that 50/50 by 2030 can be a reality.
1. core77, TIME magazine, The Editor at Large 2. Amara 3. Pamono 4. Cassina 5. Julia Molloy 6. Fast Co Design 7. National Museum of Ireland 8. Design Within Reach
Check out three top finds that dropped from our fabulous female designers
A philosopher by training, Petra longed to create something “physically tangible, practical, simple and yet beautiful”- enter the Ash bike hangers. Effortless, ingenious design.
Created by talented Industrial designer Sabrina Fossi, combining concepts behind both digital and analogue clocks, Fossi wanted to make a minimal timepiece that was clear and easy to use too. Instead of having a standard hour hand, the entire face of the watch is a spinning disk with a hole to expose the hour numeral on the watch face beneath.
The Woman print is part of a limited edition collection and was introduced to help raise awareness about the pressures of growing up in a society which obsesses over arbitrary concepts of what is beautiful and what is not – in particular, the young women who are growing up under the often distorted gaze of social media. The line drawing of the female form was made to celebrate the beauty found in every woman. 15% of profits go to BEAT, a charity set-up to support people suffering from eating disorders.