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Women in design: 20 furniture icons by women designers that you should know about

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Furniture icons and their female designers

Did you know that some of the most successful furniture designs come from women? The world of furniture design in particular has been, and still is, significantly shaped by a great many female visionaries, but whose biographies often remain obscured; while in a great many male/female partnerships it is often not recognised to what extent a woman designed a piece of art or furniture or to what extent she supported her in this creative process.

The times when Charlotte Perriand arrived in 1927 at the office of Le Corbusier to be was dismissed with the sentence "We don't embroider cushions here!", may be over; nevertheless, even today women in management positions in the design segment are a rarity. Time to change that and to appreciate the achievements of the design pioneers and their immense personal development, not to mention the furniture design achievements. Designers such as Ray Eames, Constance Guisset, Hella Jongerius, Eileen Gray or Charlotte Perriand to name just a few.

By way of an introduction we present here selected furniture icons in connection with their female designers, which and who have all written furniture design history.


Charlotte Perriand (1903 – 1999)

Charlotte Perriand

"In every important decision there is an option that represents life and that is what one must choose."

Have you you ever sat in the famous 2 Fauteuil Grand Confort with its recognizable tubular steel details? However, the mental connection that one automatically makes to Le Corbusier as the designer of the coveted piece of furniture does not do justice to the achievements of Charlotte Perriand, who immortalized herself in it in collaboration with the great creator Le Corbusier, where she improved and believed in the utopia of the "new man", also by creating a friendly living environment. Perriand's expertise influenced the joint work significantly; contemporary teamwork was very much to her liking even then, which is why the pioneer of everyday design often refrained from being named as the author of the revolutionary furniture that today are icons of contemporary furniture design: modesty and passion before ego.


4 Chaise longue à reglage, LC4, continu through Cassina

2 Fauteuil Grand Confort, a.k.a LC2, through Cassina


Ray Eames (1912 – 1988)

Ray Eames, with Charles

"What works well is better than what looks good, because what works well lasts." (Ray Eames)

The artist couple Ray & Charles Eames are true design icons. But Ray always ran under the same “company name” as her husband and is still often overshadowed when it comes to the designs of the two designers. Ray not only supported her husband – she created pieces of furniture and interior accessories herself and stood at eye level with him. With her good eye for form and colour, she was largely responsible for the well-known Eames aesthetic, which the furniture still stands for today and which accounts for its value.


Cult piece: The Uten.Silo I by Dorothee Becker from Vitra

Design legend: Vitra's Eames lounge chair with ottoman


Eileen Gray (1878 – 1976)

"In order to create something, you first have to question everything." (Eileen Gray)


Eileen Gray's Adjustable Table E 1027 is one of the most copied pieces of furniture in history. And a prime example of classic modernism of which its myriad imitations are arguably the highest form of compliment to the Irish artist.

Eileen Gray celebrated real success in the 1920s despite the male-dominated society. She shocked people equally with her lifestyle as with furniture designs wherein she always aimed to design furniture that fit the times.

Today, the architect is known more than ever for the clear lines of her pieces of furniture, works which, thanks to the characteristic interplay of chrome, tubular steel and glass, are still emblematic of classic modernism and are still sought after at auctions.

Eileen Gray


Adjustable Table E 1027, the Original Eileen Gray Side Table through ClassiCon


Anna Castelli-Ferrieri


Anna Castelli-Ferrieri

The round pedestal Componibili, which is always preceded by its cult reputation and which for many children represents through its presence in their bedrooms, probably the beginning of a certain affinity for furniture design, was authored by the Italian architect Anna Castelli-Ferreri, who also co- founded the Italian manufacturer Kartell , a company established in 1949 by Anna and her husband, the chemist Guido Castelli. Together they made Kartell the world leader in the design and manufacture of plastic furniture, a success tow hich Anna contributed through her own experimenting with plastic, achieving a global fame with the "Componibili" modular system.


Componibili Bio, an evolution of the original Componibilis

The classic Componibili in a child's room