Egg Collective, a female-led, New York-based design company, along with co-curator Lora Appleton of kinder MODERN gallery and founder of the Female Design Council, brought together an impressive list of international designers for their latest addition to New York Design Week 2018.
In a thoughtfully curated mix of intergenerational work, the show features not only an impressive all-female roster, but also mixes various materialities and types, including lighting designs, textiles, sculptural works, and home furnishings, all ranging from 1945 up to the present day.
From architecturally inspired jewelry to ceramic sculptures influenced by Cold War propaganda posters, the small but symbolically robust show had a little bit of everything.
“Last year, the intention was to bring together a strong group of women influenced by what was happening in the country, and a general desire to shine a light on our community and the amazing work that women are building, designing and making,” Hillary Petrie, co-founder of Egg Collective, tells Culture Trip at the show’s opening.
“This year we expanded the conversation,” Petrie continues. “Last year only included NYC-based studios, but this year we expanded it across time and space. We say ‘time’ because we involved vintage works and some important historical works.”
Ultimately, the show serves as an educational experience for up-and-coming and established designers alike. By putting them all in the same room, during one of New York’s most design-centric weeks, perhaps a new dialogue can emerge, one that pays homage to lesser-known yet important design innovators.
“In the past, women who were doing work didn’t come up the way we are now,” co-curator Lora Appleton says. “They didn’t have the privilege of standing on their own two feet [in the same way]. They were desperate to be considered and to work.”
Egg Collective also partnered with local galleries to get important, historical pieces in for the show, including Greta Grossman’s floor lamp design (circa 1950, Sweden) and Nanna Ditzel’s “ODA” lounge chair and ottoman (1956, Denmark).
The eldest piece in the exhibition is Lilian Holm’s color wall tapestry, which hangs at the entrance of the show. “Holm was born in the 1890s and the piece is just so modern. It was inspired by the city’s skyline,” Petrie says.
As for the youngest designers in the group, Katie Stout’s colorful paper-pulp shelf was given on loan to the collective. Born in the 1980s, Petrie remarks on Stout’s work as “very applicable, very experimental.” She’s also a local to New York City. “The intention was to bring a collection that highlights women at different stages in their careers, those who’ve blasted trails, those who are blazing trails, and have a very unique and strong design voice… and putting them all together in one space,” Petrie continues.
The show’s theme – Masters, Mavericks & Mavens – pays homage not only to the intergenerational body of work, but also the innovative, personalized “language” of each designer.
“Masters [represent the] people who have really honed their skill sets over time,” Petrie explains. “Mavericks are people who are blazing a trail, going off on their own, developing their own language. Mavens is [about] mastery and not being afraid to be uniquely you, developing a unique body of work.”
But it’s not just the designers’ gender that acts as the unifying thread between pieces: “We like to say that design isn’t gendered,” Petrie continues. “It’s not about male or female – it’s about good design and making sure that the good design is shown to everyone equally.”
Appleton, who participated in last year’s show, returned this year to highlight the importance connectivity among female designers from different generations: “History is so important to the present, as well as where we head in the future. It’s great to shine light on the past, as well as contemporary landscape, so that we can help direct the future,” she says speaking at the show’s opening.
Tbilisi-based, emerging interior design team Rooms featured their 2018 console and pedestals made from terracotta composite material, entitled Life on Earth. “They’re two women who’ve done so much exploration in form and material, and we’ve always really admired their work,” says Petrie. Although the terracotta feels distinctly terrestrial in its materiality, the sculptural forms of the two pieces give off an unusual interstellar feel, more akin to life on Mars, with its signature red dust.
Bari Ziperstein, an L.A.-based ceramic designer, took cues from Cold-War-era propaganda posters for her sculptural series, Alone We Are Powerless, Together We Are Strong and Hello Youth!. The sculptures, although based on Soviet Union rhetoric, are reminiscent of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, particularly the use of hand-written statements on a round, ceramic centerpiece.
Ziperstein, who was in attendance at the Masters, Mavericks, and Mavens opening night, didn’t shy away from my Chicago comparison: “The way [this series] was installed in L.A. was one singular, round length. Critics were saying it looks like monuments, but peers were saying it looked like the Dinner Party.”
Egg Collective’s show, in this circular, historic context, helps inform the younger generation of female designers who’ve paved the way before them.
“All of the work stands on this really strong level plane,” Appleton says. “Even if it was done 80 years ago or today. And that’s a real tell of what’s happened in history for female design.”