Designing Women: Our Top 10 Icons of Architecture and Interiors

building designed by famous female architect Jeanne Gang

In celebration of International Women’s Day, our women-led interior design firm pays homage to the trailblazing female icons of architecture and interior design who have shaped our industry. This day is a global acknowledgment of women’s achievements across all sectors, but our admiration and inspiration drawn from these pioneering women extend beyond this singular date. As a firm that prides itself on embodying the spirit of innovation, creativity, and resilience demonstrated by these remarkable women, we continuously honor their legacy in our daily work. We hope that through this post, you will also be in awe of their groundbreaking contributions, which have not only paved the way for future generations but also continue to influence our practice and the wider design community every day. Read on to learn about famous female architects and interior designers who inspire us constantly.

Successful Female Architects and Interior Designers Who Inspire Us Every Day

Jeanne Gang

Jeanne Gang is renowned for her innovative and environmentally responsive designs that blend architecture with natural elements. As the founder of Studio Gang, her work emphasizes sustainable practices and community-focused projects. Gang’s style is often characterized by its dynamic use of space and materials to create structures that are both visually striking and deeply integrated with their surroundings.

Notable projects spearheaded by this famous female architect include the Aqua Tower in Chicago, known for its undulating façade that mimics the ripple of water, and the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College, which features a communal, accessible design. Gang’s contributions to architecture have been recognized with numerous awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship, showcasing her as a leader in the field of sustainable and innovative design.

Why We Love Her

Jeanne Gang is known for her innovative and research-driven approach to architecture and design. Her work often incorporates sustainable materials and practices, which aligns with the growing emphasis on environmental responsibility in interior design. Gang’s approach to using design to solve complex issues related to climate change, urbanism, and social equity has inspired us and many other interior designers to think more deeply about the impact of our work on the environment and society.

Beverly Lorraine Greene

Beverly Lorraine Greene’s historical significance as the first African American woman architect licensed in the United States marks her as a pioneering figure in architecture. Her work, though less documented than her male counterparts, contributed to notable projects that include collaborations with architects like Marcel Breuer, for whom she worked on the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

Greene’s style was adaptable, working within the modernist movement to create functional and aesthetically pleasing public buildings and spaces. Despite facing significant racial and gender barriers, Greene’s achievements paved the way for future generations of architects. Her legacy is a testament to her talent, perseverance, and the impact she made in integrating architecture and social responsibility.

Why We Love Her

Her pioneering career paved the way for women—especially those of color—in architecture and design. Greene’s achievements are a source of inspiration for our firm, emphasizing the importance of diversity, representation, and breaking barriers in traditionally male-dominated industries. Greene also collaborated with some of the most iconic figures in modern architecture, including Marcel Breuer and Edward Durell Stone. Who wouldn’t find that inspiring?

Marion Mahony Griffin

Marion Mahony Griffin was a key figure in the development of architectural design in the early 20th century, contributing significantly to the Prairie School of architecture alongside Frank Lloyd Wright. Her work is characterized by a harmonious integration of buildings with their landscapes, employing organic forms and materials to enhance the connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Griffin’s most famous collaboration was with her husband, Walter Burley Griffin, in designing Canberra, Australia’s capital city, showcasing her skill in city planning and landscape architecture. Her artistic renderings, particularly of the Canberra plan, are celebrated for their beauty and precision. Griffin’s legacy includes not only her architectural and urban design projects but also her role as a trailblazer for women in architecture.

Why We Love Her

Griffin’s work demonstrated an early commitment to sustainable design principles like respecting the natural landscape and using local materials. Her foresight in these areas has inspired us and other designers to prioritize sustainability and innovation in our work.

Zaha Hadid

One of the most successful female architects of all time, Zaha Hadid, known as the “Queen of the Curve,” revolutionized contemporary architecture with her bold, futuristic designs that challenge traditional forms and structures. Hadid’s work is characterized by its dynamic, fluid shapes that convey movement and complexity, evident in iconic buildings like the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku and the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics.

Zaha Hadid founded her own architectural firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, in 1980. The firm is based in London and has become one of the most well-known and respected architectural practices in the world. Zaha Hadid Architects is renowned for its new spatial concepts and futuristic designs, pushing the boundaries of architecture and design with every project. The firm’s portfolio includes a wide range of projects, from civic and cultural buildings to residential and commercial developments, across the globe. Zaha Hadid’s visionary approach and the firm’s commitment to design excellence have earned numerous awards and accolades, cementing her legacy as a pioneering figure in contemporary architecture.

She was also a fashion designer and an interior designer. Her notable collaborations include fashion and design projects with brands such as Adidas and Swarovski, showcasing her versatility across different creative fields. Hadid’s groundbreaking contributions to architecture were recognized with the Pritzker Architecture Prize, making her the first woman to receive this prestigious award.

Why We Love Her

As the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Hadid shattered the glass ceiling in the predominantly male field of architecture. Her success serves as a powerful example of what women can achieve in design professions, inspiring each woman in our firm to aim high and break their own barriers in our industry.

Julia Morgan

Next on our list of famous interior designers who inspire is Julia Morgan. Julia Morgan was an influential architect in the early 20th century, known for her prolific output and pioneering role as one of the first prominent female architects in the United States. She is an icon of West Coast interior design and architecture. Morgan’s style blends Arts and Crafts movements with Beaux-Arts and Art Deco training, creating buildings that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Her most famous project, Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, showcases her ability to design in a variety of historical styles and her skill in integrating complex building programs. Morgan was a trailblazer for women in architecture, overcoming gender barriers to build a successful career that included over 700 residential projects and commercial buildings, primarily in California and specifically in San Francisco. Her legacy is celebrated for its architectural diversity, innovation, and enduring impact on the profession.

Why We Love Her

Beyond her impressive oeuvre, Morgan was a strong advocate for women’s education and empowerment. She worked extensively with women’s institutions, designing numerous YWCAs, women’s clubs, and buildings for women’s colleges. Her commitment to creating spaces that empower women resonates with our core values at LUDC.

Lina Bo Bardi

Lina Bo Bardi was a visionary architect and designer who made significant contributions to modern Brazilian architecture and design. Her own practice is characterized by a deep commitment to social and cultural values, using architecture as a tool for societal engagement and transformation.

Notable projects include the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), which features a unique glass and concrete structure that elevates the main body above a public plaza, and SESC Pompéia, a cultural center that repurposed an old factory into a vibrant community space. Bo Bardi’s approach to design, which often incorporated local materials and traditional Brazilian techniques, has been influential in promoting a more inclusive and democratic approach to architecture.

Why We Love Her

Lina Bo Bardi’s career was marked by an interdisciplinary approach that encompassed architecture, furniture design, stage design, journalism, and curatorial work. This broad engagement with various aspects of cultural and design practice encourages us to explore other creative endeavors as multifaceted women with diverse interests.

Kazuyo Sejima

Kazuyo Sejima, co-founder of her own firm SANAA, is celebrated for her minimalist designs that explore the relationship between space, light, and the environment. Her work, often created in collaboration with Ryue Nishizawa, is noted for its clarity, precision, and innovative use of materials. The design studio is repeatedly celebrated for its sensitivity and understanding of context as well.

Projects like the Rolex Learning Center in Switzerland and the Louvre-Lens museum in France exemplify her approach to creating fluid, open spaces that encourage interaction and reflection. Sejima’s achievements in architecture have been recognized with the Pritzker Architecture Prize, highlighting her contributions to the field and her role in advancing contemporary architectural practice. She is only the second woman to have won this award.

Why We Love Her

Sejima’s projects often feature innovative uses of space and natural light, creating environments that are both functional and poetic. Her ability to manipulate light and shadow to transform the feel of a space aligns with core principles in interior design, emphasizing the importance of environmental elements in shaping human experiences.

Patricia Urquiola

Patricia Urquiola, a Spanish architect and designer based in Milan, has become synonymous with a modern, innovative approach to design that transcends traditional boundaries. Urquiola’s style is marked by a playful yet sophisticated use of form, color, and texture, blending organic shapes with contemporary materials to create warm, inviting spaces.

Noteworthy projects include the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona, where her design integrates local cultural motifs with modern aesthetics and contemporary art, and the Moroso showroom, which showcases her ability to create dynamic, engaging environments. Urquiola’s collaborations with leading design brands, such as Moroso, B&B Italia, and Kartell, have produced iconic furniture design pieces that reflect her distinctive approach to design.

Her work has earned her multiple awards, including the Gold Medal of the Chartered Society of Designers and the Order of Isabella the Catholic, which celebrate her contributions to the design world.

Why We Love Her

Urquiola is known for her innovative use of form, color, and materials, blending traditional techniques with contemporary design principles. Her work, which spans furniture, lighting, product design, and interiors, often features playful yet sophisticated elements that challenge conventional notions of design. Seeing Urquiola’s work has inspired us to explore new creative territories and express our unique voices through interior design while honoring our clients’ vision.

India Mahdavi

India Mahdavi’s work stands out for its vibrant use of color and eclectic style that draws inspiration from her diverse cultural background. Known as the “queen of color,” Mahdavi’s interiors are characterized by a bold, playful approach that combines sophisticated elegance with a sense of whimsy.

Her notable projects include the Gallery at Sketch in London, celebrated for its striking pink interior, luxe materials, and distinctive egg-shaped toilets, which have become a hallmark of Mahdavi’s innovative approach to design. Beyond interiors, her collaborations with high-profile clients and brands, such as Louis Vuitton and Ladurée, have allowed her to apply her unique aesthetic to a range of products and spaces. Mahdavi’s work has been recognized internationally, earning her acclaim and awards that underscore her status as a leading figure in contemporary design.

Why We Love Her

Mahdavi’s multicultural background and extensive travel influence her design aesthetic, which is a rich blend of global cultures and styles. This eclectic approach encourages designers like us to incorporate diverse influences into their work, celebrating global design traditions while creating unique and inclusive spaces. We also love the sensual femininity of many of her designs.

Elsie de Wolfe

Elsie de Wolfe, considered by many as the first professional interior decorator, revolutionized interior design at the turn of the 20th century with her fresh, light-filled rooms and rejection of the Victorian era’s heavy drapery and clutter. De Wolfe’s style favored simplicity, elegance, and comfort, introducing elements like chintz fabric, mirrored surfaces, and light, airy colors that have become staples in interior design.

Her landmark projects include the interior of the Colony Club in New York, America’s first social club for women, showcasing her ability to create spaces that were both beautiful and functional. De Wolfe’s legacy extends beyond her projects through her influential book, “The House in Good Taste,” and her role as a tastemaker and advocate for the professionalization of interior design. Her pioneering work paved the way for future generations of designers and established interior design as a respected profession.

Why We Love Her

De Wolfe was known for her innovative use of color, her incorporation of indoor-outdoor elements, and her blend of antiques with modern pieces. Her ability to mix styles and periods creatively has inspired our firm to explore eclectic and bold design choices.

Happy International Women’s Day from LUDC!

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we invite our readers to delve deeper into the lives and legacies of the remarkable women architects and interior designers we’ve highlighted. Their pioneering work has not only transformed the spaces we inhabit but also challenged and expanded the boundaries of design and architecture. In honoring these women, we not only pay tribute to their achievements but also draw inspiration for our own creative endeavors.

At LUDC, we are eager to hear how these influential women have inspired you. Whether their styles spark an idea for your next interior design project or you’re considering a remodel that reflects their innovative visions, our team is ready to bring your inspired projects to life. Let’s continue to celebrate the contributions of women in design, not just on International Women’s Day but every day, by exploring and embracing their extraordinary work.

Reach out to us at LUDC with your ideas and let’s collaboratively create spaces that pay homage to the legacy of these iconic women.

We Value Your Privacy.

We use cookies to enhance your browsing experience, serve personalized ads or content, and analyze our traffic. By clicking “Accept”, you consent to our use of cookies.