Our Favorite Design Books in Honor of World Book Day

interior design books in the library at Braeswood Place

Our team at LUDC is filled with avid readers, so we knew a post on World Book Day was not just inevitable but perfectly fitting. Today, we’re reading books about female designers—both past and present—so that we may draw inspiration and honor their contributions. These design books commemorate the groundbreaking work of women who have shaped and transformed the design industry. They also highlight the unique challenges women in design and architecture have faced as they navigate an industry previously dominated by their male counterparts.

By poring over these stories on World Book Day and beyond, we gain a deeper appreciation for their creative spirit, resilience, and innovation—which continues to inspire new generations of designers. On World Book Day, we encourage our readers to consider the immense value of diversity and inclusion in the creative professions. Taking a look at these design books by women helps ensure that the achievements of female designers are celebrated and remembered—fostering an environment where future talents are nurtured in the spirit of equality and respect.

Our Team’s Favorite Design Books in Honor of World Book Day

Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women by Jane Hall 

This book offers a celebratory visual survey of groundbreaking architecture created by women across the globe. Jane Hall compiles projects from the early twentieth century to the present day—honoring the significant contributions of female architects globally. The book celebrates the diversity and innovation brought to the architectural field by women—presenting buildings and designs that challenge and expand the traditional views of architecture.

The projects highlighted in this book range from the iconic to the everyday—underscoring the often-overlooked contributions of women in architecture. Hall’s work not only documents these achievements but also acts as an inspirational source for the next generation of architects—highlighting the importance of inclusivity in architectural design and practice.

Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors by Jesse Carrier, Mara Miller, Judith Nasatir, and forward by Anna Wintour

This tome features the elegant and accessible interior designs of Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller—the husband-and-wife team behind Carrier and Company Interiors. The book—which begins with a foreword by Vogue’s Anna Wintour—showcases a variety of interiors that embody a blend of sophistication and comfort. Carrier and Miller’s ability to craft spaces that resonate deeply with their inhabitants is admirable.

Through beautiful photography and insightful descriptions, the book explores how Carrier and Miller balance modern aesthetics with functional living. They manage to create environments that are both stylish and livable—making a strong case for the beauty found in subtlety and simplicity. This volume acts as both a portfolio of their work and a source of inspiration for readers looking to enhance their own homes.

Pioneering Women of American Architecture edited by Mary McLeod and Victoria Rosner

This book is a curated collection of biographies highlighting fifty women who have made significant contributions to American architecture. Edited by Mary McLeod and Victoria Rosner, it aims to shed light on the achievements of women architects who have often been marginalized in mainstream architectural history. Each profile provides a detailed look into the professional paths, obstacles, and successes encountered by these trailblazers.

The editors carefully compile stories that not only celebrate these women’s accomplishments but also critically examine the challenges they faced in a male-dominated field. The book is an essential resource for understanding the broader landscape of gender in architecture and provides inspiring examples of perseverance and creativity.

The Modern Interior by Penny Sparke 

In The Modern Interior, Penny Sparke delivers an insightful analysis of the development of interior design from the late 19th century to the contemporary era. She explores how the design of internal spaces reflects broader cultural and social shifts, particularly focusing on how modernism revolutionized perceptions of the ‘interior.’ Sparke discusses the role of technology, fashion, and architecture in shaping modern interiors.

The book also examines the contributions of both famous and lesser-known designers, highlighting the often under-appreciated influence of women in shaping living spaces. Sparke’s narrative connects historical trends with current practices. This makes it a valuable read for anyone interested in the evolution of interior design philosophies.

Love Affairs with Houses by Bunny Williams 

In this design book, renowned interior designer Bunny Williams shares her passion for designing spaces that embody elegance and livability. The book offers an intimate look into fifteen of her most recent projects, each detailing the thoughtful process of transforming a house into a well-loved home. Williams uses her extensive experience to explain how she blends architectural elements with personal touches to create timeless spaces.

Through vivid storytelling and beautiful photographs, Williams not only showcases her flexible approach to design but also imparts practical advice on topics such as selecting antiques, arranging art, and designing welcoming outdoor spaces. This book is both a portfolio of her work and a guide for those looking to enrich their approach to home decoration.

Eileen Gray: Her Work and Her World by Jennifer Goff

This book by Goff is a comprehensive biography that delves deeply into the life, legacy, and design principles of Eileen Gray—a pioneer in both modern architecture and furniture design. Critics have described it as the ultimate field guide to Eileen Gray. Jennifer Goff explores Gray’s entire career, from her revolutionary designs in the early 20th century to her lasting impact on the design world. The book highlights Gray’s development of iconic pieces such as the E-1027 table and the Bibendum chair, as well as her contributions to architectural modernism.

Goff presents a meticulous study of Gray’s philosophical approach to design, her meticulous craftsmanship, and her visionary ideas about the functionality of space. The biography not only illuminates Gray’s professional achievements but also explores her personal struggles, her relationships, and her influence in art and architecture circles—providing a full portrait of a dynamic figure in design history.

Woman Made: Great Women Designers by Jane Hall

Earn unlimited digital access to the kindle version of this book with purchase on Amazon.

Jane Hall celebrates the significant contributions of female designers across various fields including architecture, industrial design, digital and graphic design in this book. Hall provides an extensive compilation of innovative works by women—illustrating the diversity and ingenuity they have brought to design disciplines traditionally dominated by men. The book covers a wide range of designers from the 20th century to the present day—making it a valuable resource for understanding the role of women in shaping the industry now.

Hall’s inclusive approach highlights how these designers have overcome industry barriers and showcases the broad spectrum of design innovation driven by women.

Where Are the Women Architects? by Despina Stratigakos

This book by Despina Stratigakos is a provocative exploration of the status of women in architecture. Stratigakos addresses the disparities and challenges these great designers face in the field—questioning why, despite many advancements, women still represent a small minority in architecture. The book discusses the historical and contemporary issues that contribute to this underrepresentation and suggests ways to improve diversity within the field.

Stratigakos uses a mix of analysis, personal narrative, and case studies to engage readers and provoke thought about the systemic changes needed in the architectural community. It’s a big book, but this tome is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the gender dynamics of architecture and for those committed to fostering a more inclusive environment in design professions.

Designing Women: Cinema, Art Deco & the Female Form by Lucy Fischer 

This book by Lucy Fischer explores the interplay between the Art Deco movement and female representation in cinema. Fischer discusses how the visual and thematic elements of Art Deco influenced the portrayal of women in films during the early 20th century—reflecting broader societal attitudes towards gender and modernity. The book illustrates how the sleek, geometric aesthetic of Art Deco styled and symbolized the modern woman—both in architecture and on screen.

Through detailed film analysis and discussions of contemporary design, Fischer reveals how these visual elements were not just background settings but active components in shaping narratives around femininity and power. This book offers insightful perspectives for those interested in film studies, gender studies, and design history.

Julia Morgan: An Intimate Biography of the Trailblazing Architect by Victoria Kastner

Victoria Kastner’s biography of Julia Morgan provides a detailed account of the life and work of one of America’s most influential architects. Morgan—best known for her work on Hearst Castle—was a pioneer not only for her architectural designs but also for breaking gender barriers in a male-dominated profession. Kastner’s book draws on extensive research and historical documents to portray Morgan’s career and her approach to over 700 buildings—emphasizing her innovations in the use of reinforced concrete and her sensitive approach to historic styles.

Kastner also explores Morgan’s personal life and her quiet determination to succeed despite the challenges posed by her gender. This biography not only celebrates Morgan’s architectural achievements but also her role as a mentor to other women architects. Kastner’s thorough and engaging narrative makes this book a must-read for those interested in architectural history and women’s studies.

Women Design: Pioneers in Architecture, Industrial, Graphic and Digital Design from the Twentieth Century to the Present Day by Libby Sellers

This book by Libby Sellers profiles the groundbreaking contributions of female designers across multiple disciplines. From architecture and furniture to graphic and digital design, Sellers highlights the work of women who have pioneered and transformed their respective fields. The book showcases a range of influential figures, some well-known and others unjustly overlooked—bringing attention to their innovative work and the challenges they faced in their careers.

This collection acts as both a historical document and a source of inspiration—emphasizing the importance of diversity in design thinking and practice. Sellers’ comprehensive approach provides readers with a broad understanding of how women have impacted design from the 20th century to today—making it an essential read for anyone interested in the interplay between gender and design innovation.

Domicilium Decoratus by Kelly Wearstler

One of several books by the designer, Domicilium Decoratus showcases Kelly Wearstler’s luxurious Beverly Hills residence—providing readers with an intimate look at her personal style and design philosophy. The book is a visual feast, filled with dramatic interiors that combine classic elements with bold modern aesthetics. Wearstler’s use of vibrant colors, rich textures, and eclectic art pieces demonstrates her signature approach to design: opulent, fearless, and always visually captivating.

This book is more than just an ode to Wearstler’s good taste. Beyond just a tour of her home, the book delves into Wearstler’s process—revealing how she curates spaces that reflect her distinctive taste while also functioning as comfortable, livable environments. This volume is both a personal statement from one of America’s leading contemporary designers and a source of inspiration for those looking to infuse their own homes with a sense of luxury and personality.

Why These Design Books By Women About Women Are So Important to All of Us at LUDC

Inspiration and Innovation

Books about design showcase a plethora of design concepts, techniques, and styles that have been applied in various projects across the world. For designers, these books act as a repository of creative ideas and unexpected solutions that can be pivotal in overcoming design challenges or breaking out of a creative rut. They expose readers to the forefront of design innovation—often introducing them to cutting-edge materials, technologies, and eco-friendly practices that they might not encounter otherwise.

Learning from Role Models

Women-specific design literature often highlights the careers and achievements of female designers who have excelled in their respective fields. For aspiring female designers and students, these narratives are not just motivational but also instructional. They provide a roadmap of how these women navigated the professional challenges posed by a historically male-dominated industry, balanced personal and professional life, and crafted a niche for themselves. This can be particularly empowering for women seeking affirmation that they too can achieve similar success.

Historical Context and Evolution

Understanding the historical contributions of women in design helps contextualize the broader narrative of the design profession. Many women who made significant impacts were historically overlooked or overshadowed. By acknowledging their contributions, these books help correct the historical record and ensure that the achievements of women are celebrated and learned from. This also helps in understanding the evolution of design trends and philosophies over the decades—informed by broader social changes regarding gender roles.

Diverse Perspectives

Women often experience and interact with spaces differently. Thus, their approach to design can incorporate considerations that might be overlooked by others. Reading these books introduces all genders to these unique perspectives, which can enhance a designer’s ability to approach projects with a more inclusive and thoughtful mindset—potentially leading to more functional and welcoming designs that cater to a broader spectrum of people.

Encouraging Dialogue and Change

Highlighting the challenges that women face in the design industry, such as wage gaps, underrepresentation in senior roles, and workplace discrimination, can ignite important conversations within professional communities and academia. This awareness is crucial for advocating for changes that lead to a more equitable and supportive environment for all genders.

Which Interior Design Books Will You Read?

Which books will you order or check out at the library? Did we miss any of the gorgeous interior design books on your cocktail table (perhaps a Vogue Living or Architectural Digest)? What was the first book about interior designers that inspired your decorating style? Let us know which must-have books fill your home and office in the comments below!

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