7 Books to Learn More About Women in Design, Architecture, and Art

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For Women's History Month, we are highlighting the people and projects you should know about all year long. 

Historically, the contributions that women have made in design have often been overlooked and underrepresented. So it's a no-brainer that the trailblazing women that helped write the history of design should ​always​ be celebrated, especially when, according to the 2019 Design Census, women make up 61% of the workforce. That's more women than ever, while men make up only 36%. It's also important to note, however, that BIPOC designers are still significantly underrepresented with only 3% of the workforce being Black/African-American, 8% being Latina/Latino/Latinx/Hispanic, and 0.2% being Native American/First Nations/First People.

To kick off Women's History month, we're sharing a list of our favorite books that will teach more about the women in design who have helped pave the way for future generations.

These books tell the story of women who have contributed significantly and successfully in different design fields and mediums including architecture, interior design, fashion, textiles, products, graphics, automotive, photography, and furniture.

Check out seven of our favorite selections below — and remember, this is just a start!

1. Mid-Century Modern Women in the Visual Arts​ by Gloria Fowler and Ellen Surrey, $24.95

Not only is this a beautiful book cover, but inside you'll also find a collection of gorgeous illustrations, by Ellen Surrey, of the most creative women in the art, design, and fashion industries. ​Mid-Century Modern Women in the Visual Arts​ will help you discover different designers and artists including Vera Neumann, Sister Corita Kent, Yayoi Kusama, Mary Blair, Ruth Asawa, Florence Knoll, and more.

Buy the book here.

2. Women in Design: From Aino Aalto to Eva Zeisel​ by Charlotte Fiell, $45

Women in Design​ traces the role of women designers throughout the last hundred years and celebrates their accomplishments in architecture, interior design, fashion, textiles, furniture, lighting, and more. It's a comprehensive and thorough collection that teaches the reader about the designers who have paved the way for future generations of women. Some names you'll learn more about include German textile artist Gunta Stölzl, British Iraqi architect Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, Italian architect Gae Aulenti, and London-based designer Nipa Doshi.

Buy the book here.

3. Lorna Simpson Collages​ by Lorna Simpson with an introduction by Elizabeth Alexander, $29.95

Renowned photographer and multimedia artist Lorna Simpson is known to challenge conventional views of gender, memory, and representation. This volume of collages celebrates the power of Simpson's visuals as she uses photographs of Black women (and men) drawn from vintage issues of ​Ebony​ and ​Jet​ to "explore the nuanced language of hair," according to the publisher's website. In ​Lorna Simpson​, you can discover 160 artworks and an introduction by poet, author, and scholar Elizabeth Alexander.

Buy the book here.

4. Julia Morgan: Architect of Beauty​ by Mark Wilson, $30

Born in 1872, Julia Morgan was an American architect and engineer who designed more than 700 buildings throughout the state of California, as well as Hawaii, Utah, and Illinois. She's best known for her work on Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. Morgan was also the first woman to be admitted to the architecture program at l'École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris ​and​ the first woman architect licensed in California. Author Mark Wilson, an architectural historian, has been studying, writing, and teaching Morgan's work for more than three decades.

Buy the book here.

5. India Mahdavi​ by India Mahdavi, $65

Iranian-French architect and designer India Mahdavi's work is often characterized by her choice of minimalist hues and an eye-catching aesthetic. She's known for her interiors and furniture design. Mahdavi's talent and creativity can best be seen through projects she's been involved in, such as the Gallery at Sketch of London, Hotel du Cloitre in Arles, Coburg Bar at London's Connaught Hotel, and Monte Carlo Beach in Monaco. This gorgeous book, out May 25, includes some of her signature designs.

Pre-order the book here.

6. Design{h}ers: A Celebration of Women in Design Today​ by Victionary, $45

As the title promises, this book is a celebration of the amazing work that women have done within different mediums in design. ​Design{h}ers​ showcases and honors the work of up-and-coming talent spanning across a variety of creative industries. It also highlights the diversity that these women bring to their respective fields. Through short biographies and Q&As with the designers, you'll learn more about creative director Charry Jeon, artist and illustrator Shyama Golden, designer and illustrator Verónica Fuerte, and many more trailblazing women.

Buy the book here.

7. Lina Bo Bardi ​by Zeuler R. M. de A. Lima, $40

Italian-born Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi was a prolific architect and designer working in Latin America in the 20th century. She grew up in Italy and participated in the efforts to reshape the culture there, but migrated to Brazil with her husband in 1946. ​Lina Bo Bardi​ is the first comprehensive study of the artist's career. If you want to learn more about her experimental and iconic works of design, this is a perfect read.

Buy the book here.

Pamela is a freelance writer and social media strategist based in Los Angeles, CA. She loves books and all things Oscar Wilde. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @bypamelaavila for more.

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