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12 Women Who Shaped Our Homes: Celebrating Design Pioneers

Written by Our Home

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Posted on March 08 2024

Have you been looking up furniture and decor online but are not sure which ones to pick? Are you also looking to transform your living space into a reflection of your personality and style, but cannot seem to find inspiration when it comes to decorating and furnishing? If that is the case, Our Home is here to help you find home decor inspiration.

Many of us struggle with the overwhelming task of transforming our visions into reality, unsure of where to start or how to effectively turn our concepts into reality. But thanks to the brilliant minds of these 12 inspiring female interior designers and architects, we get to see and experience new standards in designing our living spaces today.

Let's get to know these influential women and their significant contributions to home furniture, accessories, and decor: 

1. India Mahdavi 

India Mahdavi is the rockstar of interior design and master of colors. Known for her distinct polychrome style, she uses a variety of vibrant color palettes and playful patterns, challenging traditional designs. Her aesthetic exudes an atmosphere that is aesthetically pleasing and inviting.  

Among Mahdavi's notable works is The Gallery at Sketch in London, also known as the most Instagrammed restaurant in the world. To give you a vivid picture, this unique dining establishment showcases her bold approach to design, as she blends vivid colors, luxurious textures, and diverse furnishings. The result was a captivating multi-sensory space that engages the senses. 

2. Dorothy Draper

Dorothy Draper, often regarded as the pioneer of Modern Baroque design, brought a revolutionary touch to the world of interior design. She fearlessly embraced bold colors and glamorous embellishments. Draper believes that interiors should reflect the people who live in them, and her designs aim to reflect the unique characteristics and personality of each individual.  

She experimented with new materials, such as plastics and metals, and incorporated unconventional elements into her work. One of her most famous achievements was the stunning redesign of The Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia. She meticulously chose each element, from the vibrant colors to the elegant furniture, ensuring a perfect harmony of modern and classic styles. 

3. Andrée Putman

Andrée Putman is a pioneering French interior designer best known for her luxury minimalist interior design style. Her work is known for clean lines, high-quality materials, and an understated elegance. One of her most iconic projects is the renovation of the Elysée Palace Hotel in Paris.

She drew inspiration from the hotel's rich history and architecture, incorporating original features such as the grand staircase and ornate fireplaces. At the same time, she introduced modern elements like sleek furniture, geometric patterns, and bold colors creating a timeless and elegant space.

4. Elsie de Wolfe 

Often hailed as the "Mother of Interior Decoration”, Elsie de Wolfe’s unique vision and groundbreaking approach to home design revolutionized the field, crafting a unique and expressive art form rather than sticking with existing trends. 

Wolfe believed that a well-designed home should be a reflection of whoever occupies the space, a sanctuary that mirrors their taste, personality, and lifestyle. She rejected the strict tradition and design that were popular during her time, instead, she embraced a more relaxed and comfortable aesthetic. 

One of de Wolfe's most distinguished projects was the redesign of the Horace Walpole house, where she showed off her innovative and groundbreaking ideas and made a name for herself as one of the best female interior designers in history. 

5. Kelly Wearstler 

Kelly Wearstler, a renowned interior designer, is known for her bold and luxurious designs. Her diverse aesthetic and fearless use of color and texture have made her a sought-after designer for both commercial and residential projects. Wearstler's designs are a sensory feast, characterized by vibrant colors, luxurious fabrics, and distinct textures. Her approach is unafraid of blending different styles, resulting in stylish and welcoming spaces.

Among Wearstler's famous works stands the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Its interiors artfully blend the allure of old Hollywood with contemporary elegance. Wearstler used a variety of materials, including marble, brass, and velvet, to create a space that is both timeless and contemporary. 

6. Gae Aulenti 

Gae Aulenti, an Italian architect and designer, left a mark on the world of design with her innovative use of lighting and space. She designed furniture, interiors, and urban spaces, seeking a balance between aesthetics and functionality. Her work is characterized by attention to detail, simple but striking forms, and an understanding of form-function relationships.

One of her most iconic works is the "Arc" lamp, a timeless piece that combines functionality with artistic flair. Its slender, arched form and adjustable head allow for precise lighting, while its elegant silhouette adds a touch of sophistication to any space. The "Arc" lamp has become a beloved staple in homes, offices, and public spaces alike, a testament to Aulenti's enduring influence.  

7. Charlotte Perriand

Charlotte Perriand is one of the most outstanding designers of her time. Throughout her career, Perriand collaborated with prominent architects of her era, like Le Corbusier and Jean Prouvé, forging remarkable creative partnerships. Through this extraordinary collaboration, her creativity soared which made her an iconic designer known for her innovative designs.

 Her iconic project, Chaise Longue Basculante is proof of her talent for creating visually stunning and functional designs that set her apart from her peers. This masterpiece of modern design challenged conventional furniture concepts, inviting users to experience a new level of comfort and relaxation.  

8. Sister Parish 

Sister Parish’s signature style was rooted in classical aesthetics, emphasizing comfort and livability. Parish's interior designs were often characterized by their use of soft, neutral colors, comfortable furniture, and carefully curated accessories. She favored simple, classic lines and avoided trendy or overly ornate decor. 

One of Parish's most famous projects was the interiors of the White House during the Kennedy administration. Her work helped to shape the way we think about home decorating, and her legacy continues to inspire designers and homeowners alike. 

9. Patricia Urquiola 

Known for her ability to seamlessly blend tradition with modernity, Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola has made a name for herself in the design world through her unique approach to design. Her work is characterized by its use of natural materials, global influences, and a keen attention to detail. 

Urquiola's redesign of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona is a striking example of her exceptional talent. Her vision for the hotel was to create a space that was both timeless and cutting-edge, incorporating inspiration from cultures around the world. Her ability to blend tradition with modernity, her use of natural materials, and her keen attention to detail have resulted in a timeless space.

10. Alexa Hampton

Alexa Hampton, known for her timeless designs, has captivated the world with her distinct style. Her interiors, such as the acclaimed renovation of The Mark Hotel, highlight her ability to blend antiques with contemporary elements. Her unwavering commitment to creating aesthetically pleasing and functional spaces is what sets her apart. 

Hampton's timeless designs have made her a leading interior designer. Her ability to create elegant and comfortable spaces, along with her focus on sustainability and personalization, has earned her respect and admiration. 

11. Victoria Hagan 

Victoria Hagan is celebrated for her ability to create luxurious and romantic interiors that display subtle elegance. Hagan's interiors are known for their rich textures and intricate details. She often incorporates natural elements such as wood, stone, and marble, which lend a sense of warmth and organic beauty to her spaces. 

Hagan is also a master of color, using a sophisticated palette of neutrals and accents to create a sense of harmony and balance. One of the hallmarks of Hagan's designs is her attention to detail. She takes great care in selecting every element of a space, from the furniture and fabrics to the lighting and accessories.  

12. Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky 

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky revolutionized the perception of compact living areas with her ingenious invention, the "Frankfurt Kitchen." Her innovative design not only transformed the layout of kitchens but also paved the way for modern kitchen design principles. 

The Frankfurt Kitchen presents innovative features like built-in storage compartments, pull-out shelves, and a fold-down table, which maximize storage capacity and create flexible work surfaces. Schütte-Lihotzky's revolutionary concept challenged traditional notions of kitchen layout and influenced generations of designers. 

Now that you know the 12 women in the design industry who pioneered the styles, furniture, and decor we now recognize and love, it's time to use their innovative designs as inspiration to create spaces that reflect your individuality and uniqueness.

And if you're ready to transform your space, be sure to take advantage of Our Home's Women's Month Offer! Every Wednesday in March, SMAC, SMAC Prestige, and BDO Rewards cardholders can enjoy an extra 10% off on ALL regular-priced and select sale items at Our Home stores nationwide. This is the perfect opportunity to find the perfect living room furniture and decor pieces inspired by the design pioneers and make your dream home a reality.

We also have a curated selection of gift ideas including linen, bedding, home décor, vases, candles, and scents to help you find the perfect present for the special women in your life. If you need extra help in designing your dream home, take advantage of Our Home Design Expert Advice. We’ll help you achieve the design you want based on the works of these inspiring women in design.

Here's to the extraordinary women who have left a lasting mark on our homes and inspired our creativity. May their brilliant minds guide us as we put together our ideal personal spaces. Happy Women’s Month!