Women might account for nearly half the global population, but design, from architecture to products, remains a man’s world.
If the recent rise in women designers and entrepreneurs in the marketplace and at A+R is a sign of the times, perhaps marking women’s history in this realm will sooner than later become a year-round given.
In the meantime, a spotlight on a handful of creators—who happen to be women—we can’t get enough of:
Inma Bermúdez, studio founder + designer (Valencia)
The best-selling on-the-go FollowMe lamp that Inma Bermúdez conjured for fellow Valencianos Marset encapsulates this exuberant and prolific creator of the region’s design capital. Lighting is only one category of output by her productive signature studio, which also collaborates on furniture and decorative objects and accessories for brands as wide-ranging as the mass behemoth Ikea and the heritage porcelain house Lladró, where she has been part of the inhouse design team since 2007. Her commerical efforts take her to Colombia to India to France, while she also manages to carve out time to teach design.
Trine Andersen, founding designer Ferm Living (Copenhagen)
Graphic design is a career path dominated by 61% women, according to a survey by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. And so was the starting point for Copenhagen-based Trine Andersen who launched Ferm Living in 2006 with wallpapers. Today, her distinct vision spans a lifestyle range that includes indoor and outdoor furniture and accessories for adults and kids. Trine also pays it forward with designing collaborators who also happen to be women, among others, Spanish-Swiss designer Helena Rohner, Finnish Anni Pitkäjärvi and Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä of Studio Finna, and fellow Danes Leise Dich Abrahamsen and Anne Wendlandt.
Chen-Yen Wei, co-founder Afteroom Studio (Stockhholm)
A simple mission to create beautiful objects drives Chen-Yen Wei, who credits her parents, insurance clerks raising their family in crowded Taipei, for connecting her to nature and the possibilities and space it provides. An organic subtlety pervades the minimalist colorways and furnishings she and her husband Hung-Ming Chen design for Menu and other design resources from their studio in Stockholm, which they founded in 2011, some 5 years after relocating there to pursue Chen’s education.
Felicia Ferrone, founding designer fferrone (Chicago, Milan)
Form is an expression of today and the future, notes Felicia Ferrone, who launched her eponymous brand of glassware, home accessories and furniture in 2010. Before doing so in her native Chicago, this multidisciplinary designer honed her chops as an architect in Milan, where she learned to “blur boundaries.” Today, this also means finding the time to share her trove of knowledge as an educator.
Veerle Wenes, co-founder Valerie Objects (Antwerp)
What began as a side project for lauded gallerist Veerle Wenes has evolved into an international platform for avant-garde product designers and the enthusiasts who collect Valerie Objects' cutlery and other “everyday” tools. Tools that are anything but common. Veerle co-founded the cult brand with Axel Van Den Bossche, CEO of homeware brand Serax, but as art director, her exacting eye for what is truly modern and new is what defines the brand’s singular range.
Emma Olbers studio founder + designer (Stockholm)
Sustainability informs the process of every facet of design Emma Olbers undertakes in her long-standing practice, be it branding to products and everything in between. Among the A+R brands featuring her product design are Skagerak, Asplund and Eldvarm. This prolific creative director and designer grew up on a farm on the outskirts of Gothenburg in the west of Sweden before heading to the capitol at age 20. In 1979, she opened her namesake studio.