The rise of female industrial designers
From the days of Egg chairs to today's polycarbonate stacking seats, the fairer sex's involvement in industrial design has been insomuch as collaborators (Ray to Charles Eames) or grudgingly acknowledged (Lilly Reich of the Barcelona chair fame). But this sorry state of affairs has been mitigated in the recent decade with a small but brilliant handful of female designers who dazzle with consistently exceptional work. Presenting the trio with brio:
Domestic Goddess: Patricia Urquiola
The abundantly talented Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola made her mark on the design scene more than a decade ago when her collaborations with designer "king-maker" Patrizia Moroso catapulted her to stardom. Since then, she can't seem to put a foot wrong. Milan based Urquiola, who counts the legendary Antonio Citterio as her mentor, has become something of a favourite for design greats, with the likes of furniture companies, B&B Italia and Kartell, lighting brands like Flos, kitchen specialists, Boffi, bathroom fittings manufacturers like Agape and Hansgrohe as well as fashion and lifestyle houses like Hermes and Rosenthal consulting her expertise. Her diverse and prolific design oeuvre has more than enough to furnish a complete home, which was precisely what the stunning Mandarin Oriental Barcelona (which she also designed) was built around.
Bella Italia: Paola Navone
Amid the machismo that is the Italian design elite, Paola Navone is the exception. The Turin born architect, designer, art director, interior decorator and industrial planner was active in the infamous Memphis Design movement of the '80s and has been quietly influencing design ever since, flitting between offices in Europe and Asia. Her cosmopolitan yet accessible take on design has made Navone a popular designer for a wide range of furniture and accessories companies like Baxer, Knoll and Poltrona Frau to name but a few. She was chosen to design the very first Armani Casa collection. She currently serves as creative director for Gervasoni and has recently begun to reach a broader U.S. audience with collections for Anthropologie as well as Crate and Barrel. As of late, Navone made design headlines again with two serenely beautiful resorts for the COMO Group: Thailand's Point Yamu by COMO, Phuket, and the Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach.
Hella Yeah! Hella Jongerius
An alumnus of the prestigious Eindhoven Design Academy, Dutch industrial designer Hella Jongerius has built a reputation for the unique way she fuses industry and craft, high-tech with low-tech, and the traditional with the contemporary. Jongerius, whose work for the influential Dutch conceptual design collective Droog Design captured the attention of the industry shortly after her graduation, runs an independent studio, Jongeriuslab. This allows her the freedom to produce her projects and work with selected clients of brands as diverse as her métier - whether it is design for the masses à la IKEA, or charmingly quirky East River chairs by Vitra for the United Nations building in New York.