Maria Kipp is considered to be the first woman in the United States to found a commercially successful hand-weaving enterprise. Born in a small town in Germany in 1900, she was the first woman to enter Munich’s Kunstgewerbe art school at age 18, then went on to be the first woman student of the Muenchberg textile school in Bavaria in 1921. She started her own hand-weaving business, first in Germany, and later in Los Angeles, California. Maria Kipp Inc., established in 1931, was geared toward the interiors market, and Kipp worked with a wide variety of residential and commercial interior designers, creating curtains for Los Angeles’s City Hall and the San Francisco Stock Exchange. She developed a reputation as a leader in the fine upholstery and drapery industries and collaborated with well-established architects, who sought out her textiles when furnishing interiors.

Made in the 1950s, the busiest and most successful era of Kipp’s work, the piece combines muted but contrasting colors, integrating cotton and rayon as well as a metal strip in a characteristic fusion of natural and synthetic yarns. Her combination of materials comes together effortlessly, creating a rich juxtaposition of color, texture, and matte and metallic surfaces.

Emily Shapiro is a graduate of the Master’s program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum/Parsons The New School for Design.

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