Dezeen Magazine

Woman Made by Jane Hall

Woman Made celebrates a century of products designed by women

Architect Jane Hall has written an A to Z-style book charting the work of both iconic and unknown women product designers over the last century, including Ray Eames and Isle Crawford.

Released by Phaidon, Woman Made: Great Women Designers collects work from more than 200 designers hailing from over 50 countries around the world.

The book celebrates woman designers over the last century
Woman Made was written by architect Jane Hall

The book is bound in a mint-coloured leatherette jacket by Berlin-based studio Ariane Spanier Design and features images of products designed by women in an A to Z format organised by their surnames.

"With the A to Z structure, loads of contrasts come through so you don't end up with a chronology, and you actually start to just see objects outside of the time in which they're presented," Hall told Dezeen.

"You have women across time sitting next to each other – so you've got someone like [architect] Zaha Hadid sandwiched between [Swedish designer] Greta Grossman and [American designer] Virginia Hamill, who worked in department stores. This creates really interesting juxtapositions."

Featured designs by Marisa Forlani and Monica Förster
It features designs by Marisa Forlani and Monica Förster

Each woman is explored through an image of one of their notable designs and an accompanying piece of text written by Hall, who is a founding member of Turner Prize-winning studio Assemble.

The book does not feature artists, fashion or graphic designers; rather, Hall explained that Woman Made focuses on functional objects that can be found in the home.

Woman Made celebrates female designers
Ray Eames' 1956 Lounge Chair also is included in the book

"The home is the site where you can, in a way, trace how women's roles have changed throughout the 20th and 21st century," said the author. "So that was a nice tie-in to frame the narrative around women as designers."

Among the included work is architect and modernist furniture designer Eileen Gray's 1926 Bibendum Chair, as well as a 1947 teapot by ceramicist Edith Heath and Dutch designer Hella Jongerius' Polder Sofa from 2005.

American designer Eames' 1956 Lounge Chair also features, plus multidisciplinary designer Faye Toogood's 2014 Roly-Poly Chair and a bench from British interior and furniture designer Crawford's 2009 collection Seating for Eating.

Woman Made also aims to celebrate lesser-known figures from previous years to the present day, highlighting how female creatives have always been active in the design world, regardless of whether they receive public recognition.

Furniture by designers Schatz and Toogood
Zahara Schatz and Faye Toogood are among the included designers

Hall's writing process involved narrowing the book's selection down from some 800 designers, as well as contacting the friends and family of various spotlighted creatives in order to verify and enrich her research.

Discussing the biggest changes to the lives of women designers over the last century, Hall acknowledged key developments such as industrialisation and women's suffrage as significant, while she suggested that climate change is likely to shape design's future.

Jane Hall wrote the designers' bios
Furniture by Claude Lalanne and Mira Nakashima was also chosen by Hall

"The home is one of the things that we've [women] still been tied to, and it's one reason why a lot of women suffer the most from the climate crisis," she said.

"So I think that's going to be the next big something. We don't quite know what it is yet, but it's coming," she said.

The book is published by Phaidon
An ashtray by Esther Wood Garance Vallée's 2020 Puddle Table feature

Woman Made follows Hall's 2019 title Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women, which unpacks various architecture designed by women over the last century in a similar format.

"In a really simplistic way these books are really important because they just literally make women more visible," concluded the author.

Dr Jane Hall is an architect and author who co-founded London-based architecture collective Assemble in 2010. The studio recently made "skatable sculptures" as installations in collaboration with local skateboarders for this year's Creative Folkstone Triennial.

The imagery is courtesy of Phaidon