Reviewed by Marissa Balbuena | Student Liason Women in Graphic Design 1890–2012 by Gerda Breuer and Julia Meer illuminates the forgotten women who made substantial contributions to design by focusing on their merits and quality of work. From historical to contemporary time periods, the book successfully integrates feminist ideology and gender inequities within many design fields and history. Women in Graphic Design re-examines and disputes the male-dominated, euro-centric narrative that has established the canon of “good design”. Although women are actively and increasingly participating in the field, patriarchal structures have hindered women from receiving the recognition they rightfully deserve.
This volume is categorized into four sections: (1) Essays, (2) Interviews, (3) Documents, and (4) Short Biographies. The book comes in two languages: German and English. I was disappointed to find that some of the German text was not translated to the brief English abstracts; however, this limitation does not obscure the richness of the featured pieces and the overall book design.
Many of the women designers presented are of Western descent, so the book lacks intersectionality. Nonetheless, the book presents an adequate range of generations, design fields, and professions women have participated in despite the paucity of specialized research within graphic design. By introducing a variety of strong examples, Breuer and Meer effectively answer the question “Why do so few women feature in the history of design?” Doing so calls attention to gender issues thus progressing the development of the design world.
References Breuer, G., & Meer, J. (2012). Women in graphic design 1890-2012 = Frauen und Grafik-Design. Jovis.