Spotlight on Trailblazing Female Designers: Part 1
Today, March 8th, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day and the monthlong event of Women’s History Month by highlighting a few standout female designers. These individuals are not only following in the tracks of those before them, they’re also forging ahead to lead the next generation of creatives. To mark the occasion, we’re partnering with the Female Design Council (FDC) for the third year (2020, 2021) to put all eyes on their talents. Founded in 2016 by kinder MODERN founder Lora Appleton, the Female Design Council was launched as a platform to support female-identifying designers and artists within the design industry. We’re sharing four women who are making their own paths, testing the limits of materials, as well as themselves.
1. Erica Sellers of Studio S II
Born and bred in New York City, multi-disciplinary designer, sculptor, and self-described mad scientist Erica Sellers is co-founder of Studio S II (ess-TOO), a product and interior design studio based in Brooklyn. Her work is playful, teetering on the edge of technology while grounding itself in fine craftsmanship, material, concept, and a blend of industrial and organic. The interplay can be seen in the mix of analog and digital processes Erica uses to visualize data and sound for furniture works. Currently on HBO Max, you can catch a glimpse into her artistic process as she competes in furniture design challenges on “Ellen’s Next Great Designer.”
Jessica Iwaniec’s first step in her career was in the fashion and editorial world of Conde Nast. Eventually she moved onto interior design, assisting on design projects and opening a design showroom with Tamara Magel. Jessica’s design style follows a holistic approach to creating spaces with a focus on comfort, craft, and a modern aesthetic. Today, she’s Design Director at Pembrooke & Ives. There, Jessica leads a team creating designs for interior architecture and custom furniture, and works with clients, contractors, and vendors to make concepts come to life.
Kelly Harris Smith is a designer, creative director, and entrepreneur who specializes in natural and sustainable materials for commercial and residential interior design. A co-founder of FilzFelt (acquired by Knoll, Inc. in 2011), her award-winning designs stand out for their pattern, color, and functionality. Kelly is also the founder of Minni, a community creative space in Boston that provides art and design education to young children. She was awarded Product Designer Award at Interior Design’s HiP 2020 and Emerging Product Designer Award at NYCxDesign in 2018. Pick up Kelly’s book, Universal Principles of Interior Design, that explores 100 concepts and guidelines critical to a successful visualization and application of interior design. Check out Kelly Harris Smith’s throw blankets in the Design Milk Shop here!
4. Pooja Pawaskar of Whirl & Whittle
Indian-born, Canadian-based Pooja Pawaskar, founder of Whirl & Whittle, embraces the imperfections in her work. Pooja’s designs draw from personal experiences and the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which favors imperfection and impermanence over flawlessness. For her first collection, Your Scars Are Beautiful, she hand-turned woods with burls and spalting into vessels that highlight the flaws. Pooja’s second collection, Ode to her Body, paid homage to changing female bodies. In November 2021, she introduced her first furniture collection – Not whole, but complete.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and to read more from our Women’s History Month coverage, click here!