The Editors | Books

Woman Made

Woman Made

The story of women product designers is often untold, or overlooked. However, Woman Made: Great Women Designers, a new book by Jane Hall, published by Phaidon, is an impactful addition to the cannon. Featuring more than 200 designers from more than 50 countries, from Eileen Gray (1878-1976) to Mimi Shodeinde (1994-) the book, and the companion website, highlight extraordinary objects made by women designers, and the best in the field of design.

Jane Hall is a founding member of Assemble, the London-based, Turner Prize-winning collective and the author of Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women (Phaidon, 2019). When asked, "one of the book’s key points is that female product designers have played a crucial but overlooked role in the development of today’s designs. Are there particular areas where this is most acute?" she responded:
Designers in the early twentieth century were material innovators and would more commonly be considered industrial designers. Belle Kogan, Sylvia Stave, Virginia Hammill, or Helen Hughes Dulany all pioneered innovative techniques with metal, while ceramics, textiles, and glass (see all the Finnish designers!) have more commonly been disciplines where women excelled because of gender norms. The Bauhaus workshops were well known for limiting women to the textiles workshops, although those like Marianne Brandt, who designed in metal, were successful outliers. There is a better spread today, with designers, by necessity, working across many material disciplines. Carpentry is certainly a growing area along with digital manufacture. I was struck by how many women spoke passionately about craft, keen to learn traditional skills yet develop techniques suited to contemporary manufacture. Egg Collective are great examples of this.
To celebrate the book, and women designers everywhere, we encourage you to watch these three studio visit films of current working women designers.

Mimi Shodeinde is a British Nigerian artist and designer whose sculptural design pieces break down the relationship between form and function allowing art and design to intersect.

For Brooklyn-based lighting designer Rosie Li, science is an applied art. We visited the Chinese-American designer at her light-filled studio to learn how she combines the organic and industrial.

Mette Hay thinks good design should be accessible to everyone. She took us inside the newly-expanded HAY House flagship store and headquarters, in the heart of Copenhagen.

Posted in: Books, Product Design

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