Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.

Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.
Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.
Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.
Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.
Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.
Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.
Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.
Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.
Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.
Designed by Women explores international design from 1900 to the present.

About

Designed
by Women

We are supported by artists, designers, makers, producers, thinkers and people like you.

Designed by Women, an initiative of the Stewart Program for Modern Design in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, will bring greater visibility to the contributions of a diverse group of women designers from around the world focusing on the intersecting spheres of process, making and industrial production.

This microsite provides a preview of the website being developed. An online exhibition will provide a framework to examine designs by women, exploring the work of creators from 1900 to the present. The site will include a focus on 21st century designs and a searchable data base of all works by females in Montreal’s Stewart Collection, supplemented by video interviews with designers. Join the project.

Work

Portrait

Suzanne
Tick

Click to play video

Suzanne Tick is an award-winning, New York-based artist, designer, and the founder of Suzanne Tick Inc. specializing in textile design.

Born into a fourth-generation family recycling business in Bloomington, Illinois, Tick moved to New York City to pursue textile design, and in 1982 she was hired as a pattern designer at Boris Kroll Fabrics. Under Kroll, a leading textile designer and manufacturer celebrated for his skill with jacquard looms, Tick mastered the technical demands of weaving for industry.

In less than a decade she began to produce contract textiles for a range of firms, a practice that she continues today. In 1994, Tick embarked upon a fruitful, seventeen-year association with KnollTextiles, serving as Creative Director and as Design Consultant. Always restless, while at Knoll she founded Tuva Looms in 1995 as co-owner and creative director. Her most recent initiative is Luum Textiles, which she formed in 2013. According to Tick, “I initiated the concept of Teknion Textiles, which grew through rebranding into LUUM. I wanted to create a new textile model utilizing sustainability and start from fiber creativity.”

Tick maintains a studio weaving practice that she deems as essential to her professional design process as it is to her art. Her first public work, a banner for Structure and Surface: Contemporary Japanese Textiles (Museum of Modern Art, 1988), was a sculptural wall hanging incorporating surplus stainless steel from the Bridgestone Tire Company that had been turned into fiber by Japanese textile designer Junichi Arai. As the daughter of a family long engaged in the recycling business, the artistic potential of discarded goods appealed to her, and she began to include them with greater frequency over time.

A major example of Tick’s focus on recycling is Refuse DC (2013) commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its Seattle headquarters, composed of nearly 3,500 dry cleaning hangers which she wove into a vast 8 by 13- foot sculptural wall installation. A prototype sample made in preparation for this project is in the Stewart Collection.

Tick’s explorations of mylar began with balloons that washed ashore near her home on Fire Island; she eventually amassed about 1,000 of them. Tick cleaned and sorted the balloons according to color and cut them into strips for use with mixed media in a series of wall hangings. For Tick, the balloons are emblematic of family milestones like birthdays and weddings, and their reuse in secular or ecclesiastical settings allows her to honor these transformative events, restoring their value for the future. The artist addressed the topic of recycling in her 2016 TED talk, “Weaving trash into treasure.”

Designers

Women
who changed
design

  • Portrait of Zaha Hadid by Steve Double ©

    Visionary architect and designer Zaha Hadid is known for her ground-breaking deconstructivist designs.

    The first woman to win architecture’s highest honor, the Pritzker Prize, she has been described as having “liberated architectural geometry, giving it a whole new expressive identity.” In addition to buildings, Hadid also applied her sculptural aesthetic to the design of objects, including furniture, lighting, jewelry and more. Born in Baghdad, Hadid moved to London in 1972. She was initially known for her architectural drawings that were perceived as too conceptual to be built. Her first major work, the 2009 MAXXI, Rome’s National Museum of 21st Century Art, challenged ideas of museum architecture with pathways that overlapped and connected to create a flexible, interactive experience. Hadid intended the building to serve as “not an object-container, but rather a campus for art.” Fame followed, with trailblazing buildings and objects that continually transformed the concept of progressive design.

  • Photo © Irmela Schreiber, Karlsruhe/ Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin

    Lilly Reich’s early twentieth-century designs, created in partnership with architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as well as on her own, express a modernist aesthetic that still appears remarkable today.

    She began collaborating with Mies in 1927 on his projects, eventually becoming personally as well as professionally involved. After Mies became Director of the Bauhaus, Reich headed its Weaving Studio and Interior Design Workshop. Her minimalist aesthetic, as well as her precision, were crucial components of projects that are often credited to Mies alone. Reich maintained her own workshop, even while collaborating with Mies. She joined the influential reformist organization the Deutscher Werkbund in 1912, where she designed exhibitions intended to improve Germany through good design. Reich became the first woman on their board of directors in 1920. Although her designs included interiors, window dressing, furniture, and reformist dress, it is her exhibition installations that today appear shockingly contemporary. She often displayed products in multiples, creating a powerful, graphic visual that reflected industrial production. A pioneer of modern design, Reich remained committed to the principles of function and simplicity throughout her career.

  • Photo by Noah Kalina

    Architect, designer and inventor Neri Oxman’s revolutionary design philosophy aims to unite the built, the natural and the biological environments into a single material ecology.

    Operating at the intersection of design, biology and technology, she uses cutting-edge technologies to interact with the natural world. Oxman envisions “a new age of design… that takes us from a Nature-inspired Design to a Design-inspired Nature.” Born in Israel, she earned a Diploma from the Architectural Association in London and a PhD in Design Computation from MIT. In 2010 she founded the MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter Group. Her interdisciplinary team conducts research that fuses computational design, digital fabrication, materials science, and synthetic biology to design with Nature. Her celebrated Silk Pavilion—an architectural scale structure co-created by humans, robots, and 6,500 live silkworms—demonstrates an extraordinary melding of technology and biology. “It has become increasingly challenging to differentiate between the man-made and the nature-grown,” she says. “In my group…we will not build our products and our architecture, but rather we will grow them.”

  • Photo by John Madere

    Characterized by a playful, eclectic use of typography, Paul Scher's award-winning work has not only shaped the field of graphic design, but also become a part of popular culture.

    Paula Scher has created iconic graphic identities for an impressive roster of clients, including Citibank, Microsoft and New York’s Public Theater. Educated at Tyler School of Art, she began her career designing album covers at CBS Records in the 1970s. Scher was the first woman to become a partner in the New York office of Pentagram, the multidisciplinary design studio where she has worked since 1991. Her witty, ground-breaking designs combine mainstream culture with her lifelong love of typography. Scher described how her visual vocabulary relies on typography to communicate the concept: “Once I started to see type as something with spirit and emotion, I could really manipulate it.” Her aim has been to “make things that the public could relate to and understand.” Scher’s award-winning work, which has revolutionized graphic design, has been exhibited throughout the world and is represented in numerous museum collections.

  • Photo © Markus Jans

    Dutch industrial designer Hella Jongerius is known for creatively melding craft with industrial production.

    In adapting a handcrafted object for production, Jongerius deliberately retains the handmade characteristics. “Good Design doesn’t always mean polished perfection,” she maintains, “Sometimes it’s the apparent flaws, the quirks and individualities that we most appreciate in a product... often they are the marks of the makers - signs of manufacture by careful, skilled human hands.” The name of her studio, Jongeriuslab, reflects her experimental approach to design. Her focus on innovation in all aspects of design, along with her sensitivity to designing for the human scale, are key elements in her pioneering approach to design. After studying industrial design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Jongerius worked on projects with the Dutch collaborative Droog before founding Jongeriuslab in 1993. In addition to her independent design projects, Jongerius has designed textiles, ceramics and furniture in partnership with manufacturers who give her the freedom to innovate.

Timeline

This selection of women designers in the Stewart collection is organized by decade.

Mission

Designed
by Women

The world of industrial design has historically been the purview of men, and the world of objects for the home has seemingly been divided into male creators and female consumers.

Women have been makers from time immemorial, whether weaving baskets and cloth, or making pottery or jewelry. Recognition from within the Western canon, however, was slow until a combination of societal change and scholarship over the last fifty years began to reverse this trend. Works by twentieth-century designers such as Eileen Gray and Ray Eames are featured in museums, books, and the marketplace today, but their presence still pales in comparison to that of men. Women face a continuing gender gap in the arts. Recognition, advancement, and compensation continue to lag that of men, and women of color work hardest of all in their struggle for acceptance and recognition.

Designed by Women will explore the contributions of women from 1900 to the present with works drawn from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Stewart Collection of Modern Design. The international team of distinguished curators includes Jeannine Falino, Pat Kirkham, Jennifer Laurent, and Penny Sparke.

Join Us

Join
the
project

Join us as we develop the Designed by Women project. Please consider donating to support this global celebration of designs by women. Join the team of artists, designers, makers, producers, thinkers, and people like you. Please contact Angéline Dazé adaze@stewartprogram.org to get involved.