Women's History Month: Five Astounding Women of Design

It may seem like the future is female, but there is still a whole host of rights and equalities that women are still fighting to obtain. Though things like equal pay and equal opportunity seem to be common sense, for many it seems far beyond reach.

Regardless, there are still women in this world who are carving a path of success for the generations of girls to come. While much more representation is needed, the Girl Bosses of design have already shown the boys how valuable they can be and how gender equality in the workplace truly is the rising tide that lifts all boats.

Let’s take the opportunity to be inspired by some of the often overlooked names in the industry of Design.

Jane Davis Doggett

With almost 100-years of life under her belt, Jane Davis Doggett is one of the pioneering women artists of the Century. As an early student of Josef Albers, she trained at the Yale School of Art and Architecture during the birth of the modernist movement.

While Doggett’s contributions may seem simple, most urban dwellers would be lost without the way-finding systems that she created. She not only initiated the use of color-coding and letters to identify and index airport terminals, but rendered the large iconic graphics that we use for roadway signage today.

Doggett has only recently been recognized for the work she has delivered to the world. She received the Outstanding Alumna Award from Newcomb College, was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, was honored with the Arts Recognition Award by the Arts Council of the Town of Jupiter Island, Florida, was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, and received the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award by the Arts Council of Martin County, Florida — all within the last two decades.

Cipe Pineles

Cipe Pineles is another mid-Century notable that every female (or even non-female) aspiring designer should know.

Recognized with the 1996 AIGA Medal, she made her career as a graphic designer and art director at such magazines as Seventeen, Charm, Glamour, House & Garden, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

A pupil of the great Condé Nast, she used the knowledge she gained to go on and not only design for Glamour but with the magazine she became the first art director of a mass-market American publication.

Her influence still lives on today and the layout designs that she pushed forth have become a worldwide standard.

Brenda Chapman

To this day animation is dominated by men, but Brenda Chapman is a writer, storyboard artist, and director known for big screen productions like DreamWork’s The Prince of Egypt and Disney’s Brave.

Though her work is beautiful and life changing, Chapman is most recognized for being the only woman in the Disney’s animation department during the late 80s. It is even said that she carried a business card that jokingly listed her title as “Token Female Pixar Story Artist” when she transitioned to Pixar in 2003.

With The Prince of Egypt she became the first woman to direct an animated feature from a major studio, but with Brave, Chapman snagged an Oscar, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Film award for Best Animated Feature Film. How’s that for Girl Power?

Zuzana Licko

Those hungry for the best Adobe fonts may already be familiar with the name Zuzana Licko, a Slovak-born American known for her work in textiles, ceramics, and —of course— typography.

With her husband, Rudy VanderLans, Licko started the design company Emigre Graphics in 1984. Together they created some of the first typeface designs and digital page layouts introduced to the then budding world of graphic design.

The Emigre font library features more than 600 original typefaces, including Mrs Eaves, Brothers, Matrix and Filosofia.

Licko, along with her Emigre family, are decorated with a variety of awards including the 1994 Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design, the 29th Type Directors Club Medal, and the 1998 Charles Nypels Award for excellence in the field of typography.

Paula Scher

Paula Scher may be one of the most recognized names on this list. Featured on the Netflix original Abstract: The Art of Design, Scher is a highly awarded graphic designer, painter, and art educator.

Serving as the first female principal at Pentagram, a well-known multi-disciplinary, independently-owned design studio in New York, Scher works alongside 24 partners — of which 25% are also female.

Scher, along with her partners, are responsible for the brand identities of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Sundance Institute, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, and many more.

Design Like A Girl

While these pioneers are just a few names in the full bucket of female contributors, their works may go unnoticed but they will continue to be honored by the Design community. Together with the names of the new wave of female designers today, their talent and drive are a beacon of change. Be sure to recognize the women who may feel lonely at the top, so that we don’t miss out on the innovation they can deliver to the world.

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