On an evening in New York in early May, the city’s denizens were particularly jovial – spring had finally decided to make an appearance. As the balmy afternoon nudged into dusk, hundreds of people packed into a West Soho showroom for the launch of Designing Women – a celebration of the wealth of talented female designers and artists in NYC.
The month-long show, part of NYCxDesign and hosted by design studio Egg Collective, is one of the many female-focused creative events popping up across the city, all with a common theme: women empowering women. From furniture and lighting, to jewelery and textiles, the works on show were not only all crafted at the hands of immensely talented female designers and artists, but they are also for sale, with 20% of proceeds being donated directly to Girls Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring young girls to be strong, smart and bold.
Here are some of the designers from Designing Women whose work we love (in no particular order):
1. Syrette Lew of Moving Mountains
There’s a strong dose of whimsy in the work of Syrette Lew, who designs furniture, jewelry and other products under the studio name Moving Mountains. Inspired by the intersection of design, art and fashion, Syrette – who was raised in Hawaii and moved to New York in 2006 to work with West Elm – has never confined herself to a single discipline.
That said, her furniture in particular is pretty stellar. Her mohair and maple Chaise Lounger is featured in the Designing Women show, while her Windsor Lounge Chair, A-Framed Mirror and Confetti Credenza from previous years capture her varied aesthetic, which has been described as “Shaker Meets Memphis.”
2. Hiroko Takeda
Though she initially trained in the Mingei Undou style of weaving in her native Japan (before heading to the Royal College of Art in London), textile designer Hiroko Takeda’s work is anything but traditional. Her handmade wall textiles always beckon closer inspection, thanks to their intricate combinations of natural and synthetic materials, often woven to 3D effect using experimental techniques. Hiroko (who counts Calvin Klein and architect Peter Marino among her clients) says she creates imaginative wall tapestries and draperies to resonate with “incongruous harmonies.”
Her “Gathering, 2017” artwork, featured in the Designing Women show, is part of her Giant Waffle series of deeply structured yarn paintings, with notions of spring and fall in a unified composition.
3. Stephanie Beamer, Crystal Ellis and Hillary Petrie of Egg Collective
The trio behind Egg Collective, and gracious hostesses of Designing Women, first crossed paths while studying architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. After moving to NYC in 2001, they combined their backgrounds in architecture, art and woodworking to form their design studio, working with small-scale fabricators to craft handmade heirloom quality furniture and lighting.
Though their elegant pieces are sleek and minimalist (the girls’ influences range from artist Donald Judd, to Art Deco, and formations found in nature), their unique pairings of materials (think marble and granite limestone alongside brass and bronze) imbue a room with warmth – as do the ladies themselves.
4. Bec Brittain
It was an indirect path that led Bec Brittain to the world of lighting design – she dipped her toe in architecture, philosophy and designing door hardware before she got there. But since settling into the metier and opening her own design studio in Brooklyn in 2008, she has captured attention with her often-futuristic lights – including her SHY light, which artfully illustrates the potential beauty of LED tubes.
Bec’s striking Mercury Strand 1 & 2 (on show at Designing Women) combines LED tubes with brass, rainbow and snowflake obsidian, zebra jasper, black agate, suede and leather.
5. Anna Karlin
The term “design” means all sorts of things to New York-based Brit, Anna Karlin. In her mind, “all disciplines contribute wonderfully to each other and therefore no one area must remain untouched” – perhaps a philosophy that evolved from being the daughter of an anthropologist and an independent filmmaker. Anna’s work encompasses everything from digital and print to interiors, furniture and set design, all crafted with a dash of the fanciful (her Chess Piece Stools and Chair would fit perfectly in the world of Alice in Wonderland).
Which female designers have caught your eye recently?
Images Courtesy of Egg Collective