As you’ll no doubt have already heard, 8 March is International Women's Day, a worldwide celebration of the achievements of women, whether it be political, economical or social.
The theme of this years event is 'Think equal, build smart, innovate for change' which leads on from previous themes such as 'Pledge for Parity" and "Be Bold For Change". The aim of the movement is to create a more gender inclusive world - one that encourages the advancement and recognition of women, calls for gender-balanced leadership, respects and values difference and roots out workplace bias. So, what better time to recognise and celebrate those women who have blazed a trail in the world of design?
In this blog post, we have handpicked some of the most influential and inspirational female designers of the last century.
Florence Knoll was one of the leading designers of her generation, combining architecture with furniture and space design to create truly iconic pieces.
Knoll’s talent for design was spotted at an early age and she was enrolled into the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where she became the protégé of the school’s president, Eliel Saarinen. Under his tutelage, Knoll learnt the holistic approach to design that would form the basis of her future furniture creations.
After briefly working with the likes of Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, she met furniture manufacturer Hans Knoll. After marrying in 1946 they went on to form the eponymous Knoll Associates, now known as Knoll Studio.
As head of the Knoll Planning Unit, Florence Knoll was credited with elevating the standards of furniture design and manufacture to a whole new level. As a furniture designer, her most famous pieces include the lounge collection from 1954, which included the Florence Knoll Sofa and Lounge Chair, both of which are still produced by the Knoll Studio today.
Born in Spain, but based in Milan, Patricia Urquiola has been one of the most successful and influential female designers of the last 20 years.
Urquiola is known for experimenting with both form and material, yet her creations are underpinned by a strong sense of function and practicality. Her designs also combine slick, contemporary looks with her traditional Spanish and Italian heritage.
Throughout her career, Urquiola has worked with some of the world’s biggest design names, including Kartell & Gandia Blasco and Foscarini, and is probably best known for her innovative chair designs, such as the Fjord Relax, which first brought her to the attention of the design world.
Born in the Netherlands in 1963, Hella Jongerius is one of the most individual designers working today with a passion for colour, and colour combinations.
After studying design at the Academy of Industrial Design in Eindhoven, Jongerius set up her studio, Jongeriuslab, in 1993 and quickly grew into an established name, producing collections for the likes of Vitra, Royal Tichelaar Makkum and Maharam.
Jongerius' is known for blurring the lines between industry and craft, high and low tech, and traditional and contemporary. A typical example of her style can be found in her rejuvenation of the White Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman - designed in conjunction with the Eames Estate - which perfectly captures her attention to detail and appreciation for the use of quality, traditional materials.
Furthermore, the Polder Sofa broke the mould of conventional sofa design, combining asymmetric form and a unique mixture of materials.
Baghdad-born and London-based, Zaha Hadid (1950 - 2016) was one of the world’s most celebrated architects.
Her boldly contemporary, organic and free-flowing style was very much of our time, with her designs pushing the very latest technologies and materials.
Hadid’s work includes the Vitra Fire Station and the critically-acclaimed Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympic Games, with its instantly-recognisable swooping roof. It was creations such as these that helped her to become the first female architect to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize.
Besides creating some of the world’s greatest buildings, Hadid was also a celebrated painter, furniture and home accessories designer who has worked with some of the world’s most renowned design brands, including Alessi, Vitra and B&B Italia.
Our designers of the month for March are Swedish based design collective FRONT, comprised of Sofia Lagerkvist, Charlotte von der Lancken and Anna Lindgren. Read more about these inspiring ladies here.
Of course, this is just a small selection of the talented and inspirational women who are making their mark on the design industry today. Do you have a favourite female designer?