Today, in honor of International Women’s Day, I’m bringing you works by seven exceptional designers, who, yes, all happen to be women. Over the last couple of weeks, as I’ve flipped through all of my old architectural history books (bibles), I was struck by the lack of women represented in the texts, especially those focused on Modernism (embarrassingly, this was not something that impacted me in the same way as a graduate student in my early twenties.)
Anyway, I wanted to put something together that focused on pieces (still in production) by female designers. And honestly, it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be (or should be). Unfortunately, women remain underrepresented in not only history books but in practice, so sometimes it is left to exhibitions like this one and this one to introduce the public to the contributions of women in the design field.
I won't pretend that I could EVER do justice to all of the exceptional women who have changed and shaped the built landscape but here are seven. It's a start.
Eileen Gray (1878-1976)
Creative and non-conforming Irish architect and furniture designer. Experimented with austere materials, asymmetrical forms, and rational proportions.
Anna Castelli Ferrieri (1918-2006)
Italian-born architect. Studied at the Milan Polytechnic Institute, later making her name at Kartell as Design Director. Utilized innovative forms and new materials to develop design befitting of a modern lifestyle.
Florence Knoll (1917-)
Michigan-born pioneer of modern corporate interiors. Studied at Cranbrook, Columbia, and IIT. Revered for her command of proportion, eye for detail, and fluency in the modern aesthetic. Revolutionized interior space planning as director of the Knoll Planning Unit.
Edith Heath (1911-2005)
Iowa-born founder of Heath Ceramics (1948). Talented ceramicist known for her innovative material development, product integrity, and passion for the craft. Iconic tableware still produced in the Heath studio today.
Anni Albers (1899-1994)
Born in Germany. Studied at the Bauhaus before moving to the United States to teach at the famed Black Mountain College. Best known for experimental weavings and textiles that pushed the boundaries of her craft and the Modern movement..
Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999)
French-born architect epitomizing the International Style. Created formally severe and functionally pure tubular steel furniture in the Le Corbusier studio. Later established office focused on prefabricated aluminum buildings.
Greta Magnusson Grossman (1906-1999)
Following early success in Europe, immigrated from Sweden to Los Angeles. Known for her light, compact, and functional modern designs and popularity with the Hollywood elite. Work links European Modernism with the California aesthetic of the mid twentieth century.
I really enjoyed writing this one. Happy International Women's Day!
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This architectural historian cannot stop thinking about buildings, food, and that vintage rug she found online.