Celebrating iconic British female designers

Celebrating iconic British female designers

Not that we ever need an excuse to champion women in the design industry but with International Women’s Day around the corner on 8 March we round-up a few of our favourite female designers. Let’s hear it for the girls…

Ilse Crawford
Founding editor of Elle Decoration and interior designer

Not a day goes by in the skinflint studio without us turning to Elle Decoration magazine for inspiration. Starting her career in journalism Ilse Crawford is now one of the most successful interior designers in Britain, with ‘a mission to put human needs and desires at the centre of design’. It’s a touch her practice Studio Ilse has brought to many of its projects that we admire, including Soho House Hotels and Aesop’s first store in London.

Margaret Calvert
British typographer and graphic designer

In the late 1950s and early 1960s Margaret Calvert alongside her colleague Jock Kinner undertook the ambitious task of redesigning Britain’s haphazard road signage system. Commissioned to design signs for the UK’s first motorway, the Government then asked them to tackle the state of the nation’s road signs, which at the time were a jumble of words, fonts and styles. In what Calvert has since called “possibly the biggest graphic design job ever”, the pair set about coordinating the lettering, colours and shapes which are still in use today. Iconic more than half a century later, their system has become a role model for modern road signage all over the world.

Es Devlin
Set designer

Es Devlin

Image credit: Es Devlin

Adele, Beyonce and Kanye West. The London 2012 Closing Ceremony. Louis Vuitton’s fashion shows. Es Devlin creates immersive and engaging kinetic sculptures across opera, dance, theatre and fashion and her CV makes for impressive reading. More recently her solo work includes installations at the V&A. A recent article in Wallpaper* magazine summed up her work: “What she practises, she says, is the ‘suspension of disbelief’, and she is most comfortable when operating ‘on the edge of impossible’.”

Lucienne Day
British textile designer

Lucienne Day credit Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation

©Robin & Lucienne Day 04009.tif Foundation/photo: Studio Briggs
Image: Lucienne Day with 4009 Calyx furnishing fabric, 1951

With her fabrics hung in many contemporary homes of post-war Britain, Day drew on inspiration from modern art to develop a new style of abstract pattern making. The Festival of Britain, a landmark exhibition held on London’s South Bank in 1951, marked the turning point in her career with her most famous design ‘Calyx’ adorning an interior designed by her furniture-designer husband Robin Day. Like Britain’s most influential pattern designer William Morris, Lucienne’s designs were based on plant forms. Motifs drawn from nature such as flowers, grasses and shoots were perhaps key to her success, implying regrowth and optimism for Britain shortly after the war. She was also the first woman to be appointed Master of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry between 1987-1989. Visit the Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation for more.

Morag Myerscough
Designer and artist

Morag Myerscough

Morag Myerscough creates and curates many different types of art work, all of which is characterised by bright bold colours and a sense of playfulness. Whether designing exhibitions for London’s Design Museum or the decorating the side of a building, Morag makes places that people like to be in, which stimulate and often make you smile.

Vivienne Westwood
Fashion designer and environmental campaigner

We’re rather fond of an anti-establishment figure here at skinflint and Vivienne Westwood will always be known for her part in the creation of punk. She has a rebel aesthetic which is truly her own. More recently she’s put climate change at the top of her priority. Working with Cornish-based charity Cool Earth she’s continuing to donate more than £1.5 million to halt the destruction of the world’s rainforests.


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