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Women in Design Part 1: Industrial Design

Updated: Feb 14, 2018

There are so many inspiring and influential designers disrupting the design industry. Below are some of the five industrial designers who have impacted our lifestyle and approach to designing solutions.

RAY EAMES (1915-1988)

Ray Eames, the other half of Charles Eames and American's most iconic design duo known for their innovative architecture, furniture design, industrial design and manufacturing. As a duo their aim was to utilise new materials and technology, to create high quality everyday objects at a reasonable cost. Ray was co-director in almost all films and projects. Her creativity and productivity was intertwined with her partners and was very articulate when designing products, such as picking colour, material and aesthetic.During her career she drew attention to feminist art critics, because

of her contributions to Eames design. Many of their furniture designs, such as the Eames Lounge chair and Ottoman have become contemporary classics and altered the way we view everyday objects. Her creativity was very articulate when designing products, such as picking colour, material and aesthetic. As seen in the image on the left the Eames Lounge chair and Ottoman, the detailing of the buttons, seam-lines, shape and ergonomics have been well thought out. Many products have become contemporary classics and altered the way we view everyday objects.

Mimi Vandermolen (1946)

Born in the Netherlands and raised in Toronto, Canada, Vandermolen was the first woman to graduate with an industrial design degree in 1969 at Ontario College of Art. After Graduating, she worked at Philco, then later at Ford. She started as a trainee working on the exterior, then onto the interiors. She is best known for her interior designs of the Ford Mustang II, Granada, Grand Marquis, Crown, Victoria, Tarus and Pinto. Vandermolen also pioneered in the tactile controls on steering wheels, instrument panels and introduced the principles of ergonomics to create user- friendly interior innovations.

In 1987, Vandermolen was position as Design Executive, the first women in the automotive industry. Throughout her career she has put a focus on women, as once told to her boss “If I can solve all the problems inherent in operating a vehicle for a woman, that'll make it that much easier for a man to use” (Veit, Rebbecca, 2015).

Hella Jonerius (1963 - present)

Dutch industrial designer Hella Jongerius is known for adopting a more ethical and new holistic approach to design solutions, as the industry is producing "too much shit design" (Fairs, Marcus, 2015). Over time the quality of a product is becoming less important and more economic profit is important. Jonerius focuses on connecting cultural values and social responsibility, to design quality products.

She has a five-point ''design mentality'' that informs her work:

1. She aims to design her own materials

2. Has a hands on design approach

3. Introduces imperfection into the industrial processes

4. Works on pre-existing designs, rather than starting something new

5. Has her own signature, so it is recognisable

Jonerious always starts "with an empty sheet of paper", starting "with a classic or the archive" (Fairs, Marcus, 2015), when designing. She has worked with companies such as Vitra, Maharam and KLM Airline to introduce craft sensibilities to industrial design. For example, the World Business Class cabin for KLM, she recycled cabin- crew uniform and waste wool for the carpets.

Alessandra Baldereschi (1975- present)

Italian designer Alessandra Baldereschi, trained in an Art School, then received a Industrial design Master's degree from Domus Academy, in 2000. She then moved to Japan where she studied poetry, incorporating touch, such as texture, materials and details to create empathy between people and objects. Her design philosophy transpires from her preference for blending together different eras into a single item with innovative technologies.

She has worked with many companies such as Gifu, Swatch Bijoux and Moss NY. She has also worked on many series and collections for exhibitions. One of her recent experimental series is house cleaning tools using natural and aromatic herbs and spices. They serve as ingredients for cooking, but also useful in performing everyday cleaning activities, such as de-greasing, disinfecting and deodorising.

Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999)

French designer Charlotte Perriand is very well known to have worked with Le Corbusier throughout her career and one of the most influential furniture designers in the early modern movement. She studied at Ecole de l’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs and straight after graduating tried to work with Le Corbusier, but was rejected. With determination she later on developed tubular steel chairs and turned her rooftop apartment into an exhibition called

"Bar in the Attic". Le Corbusier was invited and recognised her familiarity with metal technologies and tubular steel and immediately hired her. During her ten years at the studio, she collaborated with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret and designed the classics of modern furniture such as the Chaise Longue and Fauteuil Grand Confort. Perriand was also interested in designs that liberated women such as the kitchen unit and redesigned it for the Unite d'Habitation. It separated the dining room with only a countertop which allowed women to be part of the conversation while preparing meals. This started another path in her career in designing prefabricated kitchen and bathroom units.

Stay tuned for more blogs on designers and the industry!!


Benton, Charlotte. (1999). Corb Your Enthusiasm: Charlotte Perriand, The Woman Behind Le Corbusier's Furniture Designs Retrieved from

Eames office, LLC. (2018). Charles and ray. Retrieved from

Fairs, Marcus. (2015). Hella Jongerius calls for "new holistic approach to design". Retrieved from

Fembio e.v. (2018). Ray Eames. Retrieved from

Fermob. (ND). Alessandra Baldereschi. Retrieved from


Mclaughlin, Aimee. (2018). The most influential female designers of the last century. Retrieved from

Senda, Shuhei. (2015). alessandra baldereschi uses natural herbs and spices in tools for household cleaning. Retrieved from

Veit, Rebecca. (2015). Mimi Vandermolen, the Ergonomics Genius Behind Ford's “Rounded Edge Revolution”Retrieved from

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