Women in Architecture and Design: A Celebration | NONAGON.style
6 Inspirational Women in Architecture and Design You Need To Know About

6 Inspirational Women in Architecture and Design You Need To Know About

#GirlPower

Written by –
Jess Ng
on March 5th 2018
Jess loves good design! She spends her weekends exploring the sights, sounds and architecture of the world. Another favorite activity is taste-testing local delicacies.

In a notoriously male-dominated industry, it’s no surprise that women’s contribution to the world of architecture and design has often been overlooked and under-valued. It’s a tale as old as time, yet that shouldn’t fool you into thinking that women’s role in design and architectural history has had any less impact or influence on the industry as we know it today. From Eileen Gray to Norma Merrick Sklarek, I’m rounding up six inspirational women in architecture and design who fought against their gender to make their mark. Read on for more.

 

Marion Mahony Griffin

Dates: 1871 – 1961

 

Legacy: Her iconic watercolor renderings for Frank Lloyd Wright are still considered to be some of the best architectural renderings ever produced.

Women in Architecture and Design: Marion Mahony Griffin | NONAGON.style
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When you think of Frank Lloyd Wright, the godfather of modern architecture, I bet the first thing that comes to your mind are those beautifully romantic watercolor renderings. Except Wright actually had very little to do with those now iconic snapshots of early 20th century Mid-Western architecture – that was all Marion.

Women in Architecture and Design: Watercolor Frank Lloyd Wright rendering by Marion Mahony Griffin | NONAGON.style
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These designs went on to influence European Modernists such as Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, illustrating the depths of Marion’s influence. Her other achievements are no less impressive, and include taking the lead in developing the city design plans of Canberra, Australia.

Eileen Gray

Dates: 1878 – 1976

 

Legacy: Recognized as a pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture and furniture design.

Women in Architecture and Design: Eileen Gray | NONAGON.style
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Even before her career really began, Eileen was making waves as one of the first women ever to be admitted to the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London. She would later go on to specialize in Japanese lacquer work, making a name for herself as one of the leading designers of lacquered screens and decorative panels.

 

Women in Architecture and Design: Modernist Bibendum Chair in contemporary gray designed by Eileen Gray | NONAGON.style
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It wasn’t until the 20s and 30s where Eileen really came into her own as a leading figure in the burgeoning Modernist movement. Her innovative Bibendum Chair is easily one of the most recognizable designs of the 20th century, and is still used in design today. Within these inter-war years, Eileen also designed two houses in the Alpes Maritimes, including the E-1027 which is considered to be one of the finest examples of early Modernist architecture.

Lilly Reich

Dates: 1885 – 1947

 

Legacy: Worked with Mies Van der Rohe to design the interiors for the Barcelona Pavilion and the Tugendhat House.

Women in Architecture and Design: Lilly Reich | NONAGON.style
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Often identified as the ‘woman behind Mies‘, German-born Lilly was a Modernist furniture designer whose career was sadly cut short by the Nazi regime. In the prime of her designing years however, she is credited with collaborating with Mies on a selection of Modernist masterpieces, including the Barcelona Chair, the Barcelona Pavilion and the Tugendhat House.

Women in Architecture and Design: White elegant living room with Barcelona Chairs co-designed by Lilly Reich | NONAGON.style
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Although there is debate about just how great Lilly’s influence was on Mies’ designs, Albert Pfeiffer, Vice President of Design and Management at Knoll, points out that “it is interesting to note that Mies did not fully develop any contemporary furniture successfully before or after his collaboration with Reich”. As far as her influence in modern furniture design goes, the Barcelona Chair is still inspiring designers in various forms today.

Charlotte Perriand

Dates: 1903 – 1999

 

Legacy: Designed three of Le Corbusier’s most iconic chair designs: the B301, B306 and the LC2 Grand Comfort.

Women in Architecture and Design: Charlotte Perriand | NONAGON.style
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Parisian-born Charlotte is perhaps best known for her work as a designer under Le Corbusier. Despite being famously rejected by Le Corbusier in 1927 with the line “we don’t embroider cushions here”, Charlotte went on to produce three of his most iconic designs.

Women in Architecture and Design: Contemporary living room with Le Corbusier LC2 chairs designed by Charlotte Perriand | NONAGON.style
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The streamlined design of the B301, B306 and LC2 have had a significant influence on the direction of contemporary design, setting the stage for the introduction of the sleek, light and functional aesthetic which defines modern living as we know it.

Ray Eames

Dates: 1912-1988

 

Legacy: Prolific American designer known for defining the mid-century modern aesthetic.

Women in Architecture and Design: Ray Eames | NONAGON.style
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Together with her partner, Charles Eames, Ray was, and still is, considered to be one of the greatest American designers of the last century. They’re probably best known for their plywood furniture pieces which quickly came to define the mid-century modern aesthetic.

Women in Architecture and Design: Modern beach house with Eames Lounge Chair | NONAGON.style
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Among other things, the Eames’ designed revolutionary leg splints for injured World War Two soldiers. Furniture-wise, the pair are the creative masterminds behind the eponymous Eames Lounge Chair, which is of course a staple of modern twentieth century interior design.

Norma Merrick Sklarek

Dates: 1926 – 2012

 

Legacy: The first woman to become a licensed architect in New York and California.

Women in Architecture and Design: Norma Merrick Sklarek | NONAGON.style
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In addition to her gender, Norma had the barrier of race to contend with in her journey to becoming an architect, making this pioneer all the more inspirational. Dubbed the ‘Rosa Parks of architecture’, she became the first ever woman to become a licensed architect in New York and California separately. Overall, she was the third African-American woman to be licensed as an architect in the US as a whole.

Women in Architecture and Design: Santa Monica Place co-designed by Norma Merrick Sklarek | NONAGON.style
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Despite her success and progress in the profession, Norma’s race and gender often excluded her from recognition on a number of projects. Among her impressive portfolio, she contributed to the design of a number of landmarks, including Santa Monica Place and Terminal One at Los Angeles International Airport. She remains an inspiration to both women and African-Americans for her remarkable achievements, which were nothing short of groundbreaking.

Who are your favorite inspirational women in architecture and design? We’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below.

 

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