women designers in a man’s world
March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate we highlighted 5 top women graphic design legends. As we researched, we were surprised by how difficult it was to find women designers who made a name for themselves prior to the 1970’s. The sad truth is that design was not a career many women had the opportunity to participate in, and if they did, they were frequently grouped together with their husbands. While these women are no longer with us, we want to help carry on their important legacy and the path that they paved for future generations.
Anni Albers is one of the most well known textile designers of the 20th century. Anni was raised in an affluent household where it was expected for her to continue living an easy domestic life like the other women in her family. Instead, Anni rebelled choosing the difficult life of an artist. She began with weaving because it was the only option available to her, but soon fell in love with textiles. While she had a prominent career alongside her husband Josef, she created her own legacy independently.
Known for her furniture design and painting, Ray was also a filmmaker, sculptor and textile designer. She owned her own work as a textile designer and commercial artist, but is typically grouped in with her husband, Charles, in furniture design. Eames furniture has usually been credited only to Charles Eames. Ray was deeply involved and was an equal partner with her husband in many projects, and we want to highlight the importance of giving her the well deserved credit.
Bea became the co-art director of Harper’s Bazaar magazine at the young age of 25. After 10 years at Bazaar, she was promoted as the first art director of Ms., the magazine of the women’s liberation movement. She designed award-winning books, worked for Rolling Stone, and was chosen as an art director for Vanity Fair. While she passed away at 44 in the height of her career, she was a design powerhouse that should be a household name.
Cipe Pineles broke down huge gender barriers throughout her career. She was the first woman art director of a mass-market American publication – Glamour magazine. During her time at Seventeen magazine, she helped shape the content to include more substance, wanting to empower the young female readers. Additionally, she was the first woman inducted into Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. She paved the way for women in a male-dominated field and not many people even know her name.
Deborah Sussman began working in the famous Eames studio, and went on to brand the 1984 LA Olympics, create a wayfinding system for Disney World, Seattle’s opera house, and win many awards throughout her iconic career. Her career spanned more than 30 years, creating striking visual imagery, using vibrant colors, and developing untraditional applications for architectural and public spaces. She was an AIGA medal winner in 2004.