Our mid century female design heroes

female design

We are huge fans of Mid Century design and it might surprise you to hear that some of that era’s most influential designers were women. At a time when gender equality was a rather progressive concept, to say the least, female furniture and fabric designers were making their mark and their legacy can still be seen to this day. We’d like to introduce you to three of our favourite female designers of the 20th Century.

Ray Eames

Husband and wife team Charles and Ray Eames were a force to be reckoned with in the 1950s and had a massive influence on architecture, furniture design and art. Charles is quoted as having remarked: “Anything I can do, Ray can do better”, acknowledging the significant contribution of his wife Ray to the Eames Office.

Ray was a renowned artist, designer, and filmmaker in her own right whose strong work ethic and inventive approach helped her carve a role for herself as a mid century style icon.

Curved furniture is a trademark of ours at Dovetailors and we have always been inspired by the wood-moulding techniques used by Charles and Ray Eames in their furniture making. Their experimentation with plywood was ahead of its time and moved furniture design forward aesthetically without losing sight of the importance of function.

The classic Eames DSW chair and Lounge Chair are still relevant and in demand today, proving that good design stands the test of time.

Florence Knoll

American designer and architect Florence Knoll was another innovator whose contemporary, minimalist designs influenced office interiors in the 1950s and 60s. The Knoll sofa is a design landmark, signifying a move towards simple and stylish furniture that became a staple for workplaces, waiting rooms and homes.

As a designer for Knoll Studio, Florence is credited with many of the classic designs that continue to have an influence on interior design. In fact, by 1950 it is thought that she was behind around a third of all Knoll products.

One of the things we admire most about Florence is her consideration of purpose. As director of interior design for Knoll Associates she championed the concept of user-focused design. By thinking about how each piece of furniture would be used she was able to evolve the studio’s designs to meet a specific need. We believe that all design should be a union of form and function and we have Florence to thank for bringing purposeful design into the mainstream.

Lucienne Day

Lucienne Day was an artist and textile designer who had always wanted to create patterns for furniture fabrics. Her first furniture fabric design work was for Edinburgh Weavers and she soon became recognised for her unique style, going on to design for Heal’s.

Her career highlight was a textile and wallpaper collection for the Homes and Gardens Pavilion at the Festival of Britain in 1951 where her now famous Calyx design was first shown to the public.

We love Lucienne’s use of patterns from nature, such as seed heads, skeletal leaves and butterflies. One of the things we enjoy most about working with wood is the natural grain and variation and how this inspires the design process. Lucienne’s appreciation of the natural world and its influence on design and colour add a unique dynamic to her work that has been replicated by many designers since.