Thursday, October 31, 2019

Women in Design: From Aino Aalto to Eva Zeisel

Women in Design: From Aino Aalto to Eva Zeisel is a historical survey with small bios for over 100 women in design from fashion to textiles, from interiors and architecture to graphics. Released 29th Oct 2019 by Laurence King, it's 256 pages and available in hardcover format.

This is a resource rich book full of historical photos and information about iconic design and the artists and innovators who originated them. At a rough count, there were 106 short bios with generous numbers of well curated photos and illustrations. The emphasis is on European and North American designers; I believe there are two or three Asian designers included. I didn't see this as an intentional slight, but that the majority of the aesthetic of the book covers the Euro/American design history.

Each bio includes a small cameo header pic of the artist designer, a divider bar with their field of expertise and active years, followed by their vital info (nationality, birth and if applicable death dates).  The bios include career highlight and pictures of their innovations. These are well written and many have amusing anecdotes included. (Mimi Vandermolen, a car designer, once forced her male colleagues to wear fake fingernails to prove a point about the difficulty of the knobs and handles in current car design. She also apparently threatened to make them wear skirts to see the difficulty of entering and exiting vehicles).

The book includes an extensive reference and links list along with a cross referenced index. I received an eARC of the book, and found the typesetting contrast a little off, but I suspect that won't be a problem in the final print version of the book (which is 9x11.5" in size). I was previously unfamiliar with many of the names included here, though there were many I did recognize. Lots of scope for further reading here.

Five stars. It would have been nice to have a broader, more world-spanning emphasis, but the author/editors specifically addressed the curating process in the introduction.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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