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A female focus: International Women's Day

Forever championing human creativity

In honour of International Women’s Day, we want to champion and spotlight the exceptional talent of some of our female makers. We caught up with three designers to discuss their experiences within the industry, from trials and tribulations they’ve encountered, to the driving force behind their design approach.

Pia Wüstenberg

Finnish-German designer Pia Wüstenberg founded Utopia & Utility to explore the intersection of design and craft. Her functional, yet playful sculptures and compositions are rich in narrative and place value on the beauty found in imperfection.

Shop Utopia & Utility

1

How do you approach your design process, and are there any particular inspirations that influence your work?

Sometimes it’s something that is applied in a different object, or in a different way, and I can think of a way to bring it together with another material. A consistent influence on my work is craft. I'm inspired by craft processes, craft material, by the environment, by nature and the workshops that people work in. So it’s often the details like surfaces, materials, colours and tools.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your design process?

Sustainability and ethical practice concern me. I have two children and I want this world to be a good place for them, as well as the generations to follow. I work locally as much as I can, and have to have justification for going further afield. Also, I try to make sure my work benefits people rather than corporations, and work with natural materials and those that have as little processing as possible.

My company Utopia & Utility combines function and fantasy. The idea is to bring together art and design. The objects that we create are handmade, so for each piece, we work with craftsmen and individual people that work in their own workshops. The piece as it stands, is a sculpture that can be unstacked and taken apart, revealing individual containers, bowls or vases.

Yasemin Toygar

The London-based designer hand-crafts custom-made furniture by local makers in a small atelier in Istanbul. Yasemin takes an experimental approach to her design work, using an array of contrasting colours, textures and structures including materials such as marble, onyx, brass and velvet.

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2

Can you share any experiences where being a woman in the design industry has positively impacted your work or opened up unique opportunities for you?

Being a woman in the design industry has given me the opportunity to connect with and learn from other women in the industry who have established themselves as successful entrepreneurs.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the future of design, both personally and for the industry as a whole?

My hopes and aspirations for the future of design are seeing more thoughtful designs that reflect the heart and soul of the creator and that have a positive impact on people and the environment.

Alissa Volchkova

Multidisciplinary Franco-Russian designer and artist, Alissa Volchkova specialises in ceramic and glass, using crushed, recycled glass and porcelain to craft expressive homewares. Movement is a central theme in her work, achieved through unconventional production methods, whether reimagining the 16th-century 'ice glass' technique from Venetian artisans or embracing the unpredictable nature of slip movement and kiln firing.

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3

As a woman in the design industry have you faced any specific challenges and how have you overcome them?

When work is interesting, people shouldn’t really care about the gender. But I definitely see that women in the field of design interestingly have fewer children, and if they do have children, they keep it quiet. Perhaps this is to show they are still efficient and can maintain their creative potential. Not so many designers I know have children or share that they are parents, which is quite sad.

What advice would you give to aspiring female designers who are looking to establish themselves in the industry?

Be sure and proud of yourself. If you love your project, confidence is key, no matter who you are.

Diversity and inclusion are essential topics in today's design landscape. How do you ensure that your designs are inclusive and representative of diverse perspectives?

Currently, my work primarily caters to galleries rather than a mass audience. However, I'm preparing to introduce a new series of pieces accessible to everyone at an affordable price.

Explore the pieces from our female makers

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