Women in Product Design

A set of white ceramic dishware with subtly curving edges reminiscent of flowers opening, decorated with clusters of thin black lines surrounded by explosions of tiny pink and orange dots like bunches of delicate flowers.

Product design is the development of mass-produced everyday objects to meet a wide range of user needs in contexts including work, travel, home life, communication, leisure, and more. While often uncredited or working anonymously, women designers have made important contributions to the history of product design in fields as varied as ceramics, furniture design, industrial design, and metalwork.

Featured Designers

Eva Zeisel

A four-piece porcelain tea set decorated with highly-detailed depictions of different landmarks in Leningrad and accented with ornate gold designs.

Originally a student of art and traditional ceramics in her native Europe, Eva Zeisel (Hungarian, 1906–2011) enjoyed international success as an industrial designer. Surviving imprisonment in Russia, escaping the Anschluss in Austria, and immigrating to the United States in 1938, she went on to receive numerous accolades throughout her long, groundbreaking career.

Ilonka Karasz

Cover of The New Yorker featuring a drawing of a crowded trolley passing down a people-filled street lined with giant flags. Title text at the top of the image reads [The New Yorker] with smaller text on either side reading [Sept 2. 1939.] and [Price 15 cents].

Ilonka Karasz (Hungarian, 1896–1981) studied art at the Royal Academy of Arts and Crafts in Budapest, where she was one of the first women to be admitted. After immigrating to the United States in 1913, she became an active member of the New York design scene. Working in a variety of mediums, Karasz is well known for her wall coverings and illustrations.

Margarethe Fröhlich

Overhead view of a bedroom with a large black area rug, on which sit two armchairs, one tan and one red, facing a large bed with red bedding and a built-in cabinet.

Trained in Germany, Margarethe Fröhlich (Austrian, 1901–1977) worked as an interior designer and model maker in Prague, Czech Republic, until she was displaced by the Nazi regime. Settling in New York City, Fröhlich produced models for designers such as Raymond Loewy before moving on to design education at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and the Waldorf School.