clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Five Female Designers Worth More Than Just a Passing Glance

New, 3 comments

When one thinks about the history of furniture, home accessories, and textile design, the first visages that come to mind include Florence (Knoll, of course) Ray (Charles's wife and design partner) and Charlotte (Perriand). But what about Cini, Lilly and Greta? The wonks will know them, for sure, but they tend to be left out of the mainstream vernacular. Learn more after the jump.

? Lilly Reich (1885-1947) was the first female interior design teacher at the Bauhaus, where she also taught furniture design. She also worked in the studios of Josef Hoffman and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, collaborating and drafting many of van der Rohe's designs. In fact, she's credited as a collaborator on one of the most recognizable lounge chairs on the planet, the Barcelona Chair. In addition, Reich was the interior designer for the German Pavillion during the International Exhibition of 1929. Amid a war-torn Germany, she helped Van der Rohe get his architectural drawings to the United States. Today, one can view Reich's work at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

? In 1941, after leaving Sweden with her husband, architect and industrial designer Greta Magnusson Grossman (1906-1999) settled nicely into the California Modernism scene. Grossman (also shown at top) soon established her own successful Los Angeles-based studio and shop, which was frequented by actress Greta Garbo. Here she created livable spaces for her clients, both as architect and interior designer; in true California modernist fashion, some of her projects were photographed by the late, great photographer Julius Shulman. Her design work would go on to win two Good Design awards from the MoMA in the 1950s.

? Next up: textile designer Zina de Plagny (1914-2000), who was mentored in the industry by her husband. After World War II, she freelanced for several studios, later deciding to set out on her own with Atelier Zina de Plagny. Recently the Atelier's vaults have been opened and her bold patterns have resurfaced as a part of Surfaces View's collection of wall murals and prints.

? Architect and designer Gabriella Crespi (1922- ) is perhaps best known for her Z-shaped desk that featured prominently in a Harper's Bazaar spread on Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer's closet/office. In addition, her pieces are often seen and sold on online furnishings resource 1st Dibs. Crespi's work, which fuses functionality with glamour, can fetch up to $15K at auction.

? Architect and furniture designer Cini Boeri (1924- ) began her career in 1963 and has since designed pieces for Knoll and Poltrona Frau. Above: Boeri's molded-glass Ghost chair for Fiam. Some of Boeri's creations feature prominently in Blade Runner—look for the scene when Harrison Ford drinks from her Cibi glass tumblers.

· Knoll Bassett, Florence [Knoll]
· Charles and Ray Eames [Herman Miller]
· Charlotte Perriand [Cassina]
· Cini Boeri [Home Life]
· Association of Women Industrial Designers: Lilly Reich [Core77]
· The Collection: Lilly Reich [MoMA]
· Studio International [Frieze Magazine]
· Designs by Greta Magnusson Grossman [Los Angeles Times]
· Zina de Plagny Biography [Atelier Zina de Plagny]
· Top Brass [T Magazine]