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Shining a Light on Female Designers

8 March 2022

On the 8th of March it is International Women's Day, and here at David Village Lighting we are excited to show off some of our favourite female designers who have created some iconic products. From timeless classic designs that have been firm favourites for decades, to exciting new releases that have created a buzz in the world of designer lighting. Female designers have been raising the bar and pushing boundaries in the industry for many years. We will be shining a light on the trendsetters from the past and the newly emerging women in design today!

Patricia Urquiola

Patricia Urquiola

Patricia Urquiola was born in Oviedo in Spain and was interested in design from a young age. She says that 'when I was little I've always been inclined to take things apart and rebuild them', and so at 18 she decided to become an architect and studied architecture at university in Madrid. However, it was not until she moved to Milan that her true passion for design was ignited.

Urquiola decided to study design at the Politecnico di Milano where she was mentored by the iconic Achille Castiglioni. To this day, Patricia Urquiola believes that working alongside Castiglioni was fundamental to her development as a designer.

'Castiglioni taught me the value of design back when I still believed that architecture was a superior art – as well as the pleasure of envisioning an object. The irony, the fun, not taking yourself so seriously, even when you take what you’re doing very seriously.' - Patricia Urquiola.

By seeing the happiness that good design can bring to people's lives, Patricia Urquiola set up her own design studio in 2001 and aptly named it Studio Urquiola. The studio is based in Milan and aims to create objects and spaces that form meaningful relationships and connections with the user. Urquiola worked alongside Eliana Gerotto in her studio and created the iconic Foscarini Caboche collection. This has become a famous design that was taken from idea, to design, to the product in Urquiola's studio in Milan. These classic products and female partnerships lead the way for other female designers to do the same.

Designed by Patricia Urquiola

Ahm & Lund

Copenhagen-based design duo Isabel Ahm and Signe Lund have a shared belief that craft and design should work as one to create long-lasting sustainable products. This Danish duo demonstrates classic Danish design through quality craftsmanship and meticulous planning. They work as a team to combine each other's skillsets, creating functional, original, and high-quality designs.

The duo first met and worked together on a Danish television show called 'Denmark's Next Classic' in which designers compete to have their designs showcased at the Skud på Stammen 2016 exhibition. The pair decided to join forces as they understood the value of each other's passions and skills.

Signe Lund is a highly qualified and hardworking cabinet maker who, from a young age, saw the beauty of well-crafted materials. Lund's passion for material and craftsmanship results in a hands-on approach to design in which she works closely with the materials and the user experience.

Isabel Ahm, who specialises in conceptualising designs and creating the initial idea, is aiming for all of her designs to solve the everyday challenges we face. She focuses on 'Sustainability. Tranquillity. Versatile design. The human relation.' to help solve these challenges.

This design mentality that Isabel Ahm embodies, alongside Signe Lund's passion for materials, came together perfectly to create the Fritz Hansen Clam pendant which launched in 2021. These two young, up-and-coming female designers are bringing new ideas and motivations to the forefront of the Danish lighting design industry and we can't wait to see what they do next!

Designed By Amh & Lund

Greta Grossman

Born in 1906 in a small coastal town in Sweden, Greta Grossman was raised in a cabinet-making family that valued materials, craftsmanship, and design skills very highly. In this environment, Grossman became familiar with the feeling of being the only woman in a male-dominated field. However, this feeling never stopped Greta from excelling within the industry. She used her background and 'can do' attitude to harness her passion for design and studied Craft and Design at the University of Arts in Stockholm.

This period of her life was embellished with awards and achievements. She was given the Swedish Society of Industrial Design award and was the first woman to receive this acknowledgment, boosting her already shining reputation. As her popularity grew, so did her clientele base. She was even honoured by Swedish royalty as she was asked to design the Swedish princess's bed.

After this request, Grossman founded her own company named 'Studio' in 1933. Due to the popularity of her designs, her company grew which urged her to relocate to California to bring Swedish design to the American modernist movement.

Greta's take on Scandinavian design merged with modernist features was a hit in Los Angles and boosted her popularity once more. This led to the design of some of her most iconic pieces, such as the Gubi Gräshoppa floor lamp. This design was cleverly sketched in two simplistic line drawings that feature a steel tilted stand and a large bell-shaped shade that resembled a grasshopper on a blade of grass. Another iconic range from Grossman is the Gubi Cobra collection that won her multiple design awards and is now displayed in museums across the globe. These designs are just as famous and well-loved now as they were when they were first released and Greta's lasting reputation and popularity have paved the way for other women in design to expand their reach and push the boundaries.

Designed By Greta Grossman

Cecilie Manz

Cecilie Manz was born in Denmark in 1972 where she was brought up by her parents who were artists. A passion for design was instilled in Manz from a young age as she spent a lot of her childhood in her parent's workshop, with her own career starting in 1997 after graduating from the School of Design with a degree in Fine Art. She then went on to set up her own company, and this has been her focus ever since.

Cecilie is known for working alone, creating and manifesting ideas and designs by herself in the basement of her studio. She will create a design and then form a physical version of it out of scrap wood and foam patched together. This method gives Manz a direct, hands-on approach to each and every design from start to finish. This direct approach has resulted in Cecilie winning multiple awards for her designs and has been described as the 'master of modern minimalism'.

After winning several prestigious awards, Cecilie Manz's designs have been used in permanent collections in museums across the globe, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Design Museum Denmark, both of which honour Manz's attention to detail and respect for simplicity.

One of Cecilie's most famous designs is the Fritz Hansen Caravaggio collection. The Caravaggio is a collection of pendants, wall lights, and table lamps that all feature a bell-shaped wide brim shade, finished with a matt polish. This design was an instant success and lends a modern touch to an otherwise traditional shape. Manz has also put her designer flare to furniture such as tables and chairs, with the collections such as the popular Muuto Airy range which features a small side table and a larger coffee table. The clean lines and simplicity of this design are classic traits of Cecilie's work.

With these iconic designs and the 'master of minimalism' reputation, Manz has proven that by using minimalist design she can demonstrate how women do have a clear voice in the industry.

Designed by Cecilie Manz

Image courtesy Artemide/ Carlotta de Bevilacqua

Carlotta de Bevilacqua is incredibly passionate and strong-willed. She describes herself as a 'businesswoman, architect, vegetarian, environmentalist, twin and left-handed' and is highly passionate about them all. After graduating from Politecnico di Milano with a degree in architecture, Carlotta de Bevilacqua became the president and CEO of the iconic design brand Artemide where she uses her love of research to create initiative designs.

After winning multiple design awards and lecturing at the Design Faculty of the Milan Polytechnic, Carlotta de Bevilacqua has aimed her passions and focus on solving environmental issues. By combining her skills in lighting design and her determination for change, she has launched a campaign within Artemide called GenerAction that pushes young geniuses to the forefront. Carlotta is a strong believer that the key to solving environmental issues is within the minds of generation Z and she is also seen frequently at campaigns and protests for animal rights, a cause that is close to her heart.

When asked what we can do to meet the challenges of our time, she answered 'the first is to contribute to the future: be aware of what you can enthusiastically give to the world. Second, stop making up excuses. Third, take up vegetarianism. Fourth, be an animalist and show a total respect for nature. Fifth, never stop looking at life deeply.' This passion for life and making the change you want to see in the world is the reason Carlotta has developed some of the most technologically advanced lights at Artemide. For example, the Artemide Come Together portable lamp and the Artemide Copernico 500 suspension, both of which house energy-efficient LED light sources that provide an economic benefit and an environmental benefit. Carlotta has not only made her mark in the world of lighting design but she has also made her name known for being strong and passionate about making the world a better place.

Designed by Carlotta de Bevilacqua

Celebrating Women in Design

This is just a small selection of the many amazing and inspirational female designers and their iconic products that we stock at David Village Lighting. This industry has historically been a male-dominated field that requires hard work and determination to excel and become well known. For female designers, this is even more apparent. These five inspiring women have paved the way and are helping make the world of design a more diverse and inclusive place.

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