Dorothy Draper, Jackie O and others

Getty Images/Caitlin Choi

As Women’s History Month is well underway – today is International Women’s Day, after all – it is only fitting that we pay tribute to the women who paved the way for design history. And it’s not just interior designers by trade – although our list certainly has a few, these women have influenced the course of design history in many ways. From curators to urban planners, landscapers, art collectors, and more, here are 26 women who have marked the course of design history.

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Dorothy Draper fans know her best for the design The Greenbrier— a historic resort in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia — in the 1940s. She was paid $4.2 million to renovate the property, the highest fee ever paid to a decorator. In just 16 months, she remodeled more than 600 rooms and all public areas of the resort, using 45,000 yards of fabric, 40,000 gallons of paint and 15,000 rolls of wallpaper.

Anne Spencer was an American poet, civil rights activist, teacher, librarian and gardener. Today, his home in Lynchburg, Va., is the Anne Spencer Home and Garden Museum, a time capsule of her unique style and an ode to the people she welcomed into the home. Spencer hosted guests such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., WEB Du Bois, George Washington Carver and Thurgood Marshall.

Known as America’s first interior designer, Elsie de Wolfe’s client list included Oscar Wilde, Condé Nast, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and members of the Frick, Morgan and Vanderbilt families. Today you can find the charming tea house and fitting rooms she designed at Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay, New York.

Landscape architect Beatrix Farrand – Edith Wharton’s niece – designed many gardens throughout her life, including one at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC and the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

Like Jackie Kennedy, Doris Duke was a historical curator, saving more than 83 sites across the Newport Restoration Foundation, which Duke founded. Kennedy, who was a friend of Duke, was the Foundation’s vice president.

Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which she awarded in 2004. She has designed many modern buildings in cities around the world, including 520 West 28th Street in New York (formerly the residence of Ariana Grande!).

Canadian-American journalist, author, activist and theorist Jane Jacobs fought to protect neighborhoods from urban renewal and slum clearance. A famous example is her reaction to Robert Moses’ plan to make up for the Greenwich Village neighborhood in which she lived.

While many of us think Lee Radziwill is a well-dressed socialite in the high society world, she was also an interior decorator, inspired by the Italian scenographer Lorenzo Mongiardino, who designed two of her residences.

British horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll designed many gardens throughout her life, including those at Munstead Wood, Hestercombe House and Woolverstone House. (Fun fact: his brother, Walter Jekyll, was friends with Robert Louis Stevenson, who incorporated the family’s surname into his iconic novel, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.)

English author and gardener Vita Sackville-West designed the garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Englandand she also inspired the protagonist of her lover Virginia Woolf’s bookOrlando: A Biography.

American interior designer Sister Parish decorated part of the White House during the Kennedy administration, including the Yellow Oval Room, which to this day still bears many of her own design elements. Today, his family carries on his legacy through Sister Parish Design.

If you’re a fan of all-white interiors, you have Syria Maugham to thank, as she was the decorator who popularized this aesthetic. It served as a stark contrast to the heavy, Victorian interiors.

American horticulturist Bunny Mellon, a friend of Jackie Kennedy, designed the White House Rose Garden during the Kennedy administration. Although fiercely private, she exercised a strong sense of design in her own homes, driven by a comfortable personal style and an appreciation for the employment of artists and craftsmen.

The English country house look wouldn’t exist today without American tastemaker Nancy Lancaster, who owned British decorating firm Colefax & Fowler.

Like many of the other women on this list, French antiques dealer and interior designer Madeleine Castaing was a staunch maximalist. Floral wallpapers and antique furniture were among his staples.


Marjorie Merriweather Message

American businesswoman Marjorie Merriweather Post had quite an impressive art collection, including Imperial-era Russian artifacts, many of which are now on display in her former home-turned-museum, Hillwoodlocated in Washington, D.C.

American landscape architect Marian Cruger Coffin designed many picturesque gardens that still exist today, including those at Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn, New York (pictured), as well as Winterthur in Delaware and Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve in Lloyd Harbor, New York, to name a few. She was one of four women in MIT’s architecture and landscape design program during her time there, from 1901 to 1904.

Often called the “Mother of Interior Design”, Candace Wheeler was one of America’s first female interior and textile designers. She co-founded the Society of Decorative Arts in New York in 1877, alongside Louis Comfort Tiffany, John LaFarge and Elizabeth Custer.

American architect Julia Morgan’s most notable creation is Hearst Castle, editing the home of tycoon William Randolph Hearst in San Simeon, California.

One of the remaining creations of American landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman is the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University, which has been considered one of the most beautiful college campuses in America. Throughout his career, his gardens have been featured in numerous magazines, including Beautiful house. Pictured is the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida.

Norma Merrick Sklarek was the first African American woman to become a licensed architect in New York and California. His designs include the Pacific Design Center (pictured), the US Embassy in Tokyo and Fox Plaza.

In what was often a boys’ club of mid-century modern design, Perriand made a name for himself with work centered on his belief that better designs help shape a better society.

American architect, interior designer, furniture designer, and entrepreneur Florence Knoll is credited with revolutionizing office interiors by incorporating colorful, modernist furnishings. With her husband, she founded Moundwho continue to produce some of the most iconic designs in the world today.

Half of the furniture duo that gave birth to the famous Eames Lounge Chair, Ray Eames and her husband Charles were relentlessly innovative designers, experimenting with then unconventional materials like plastic and plywood to find new ways to produce furniture. for the masses. Although the couple are a very creative team, Charles has received a lot more credit for their designs until recently.

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Abdul J. Gaspar