Women in design

Five iconic logos designed by women.

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2018-03-07

March 8 is International Women’s Day, on which the world celebrates women’s achievements in all kinds of spheres, from political to cultural.

Although we have made much progress in gender equality over the past few decades, many challenges still lie ahead for women around the world, particularly in less developed countries. As we break the stereotypes and continue to strive for equal rights and opportunities, we would like to underscore the achievements of 5 amazing women who defied the male-dominated design industry of the times by creating logos which have become iconic over the years.

Carolyn Davidson, Nike swoosh

One of the most recognizable logos in the world, the Nike Swoosh was designed by a student in Portland State University and bore the hefty price tag of $35. Carolyn Davidson doesn’t recall the exact number of hours that she worked on the swoosh, but she charged then strapped for cash Nike only 17.5 hours at a rate of 2 dollars per hour.

Although her work didn’t pay off right away, the long-term benefits were impressive: she stayed with Nike for 4 more years and was eventually offered a generous amount of stocks in the company.

Ref.: here and here

Paula Scher, Windows 8

As one of the most influential graphic designers of the past 4 decades, Paula Scher is a partner at world-renowned design studio Pentagram. Her work covers many aspects of design, from the album covers in the 70s to more recent infusions of graphic design into architectural projects for major cultural institutions.

Her portfolio features countless big-name visual identities, such as Tiffany and Co, Citibank and CNN. When Paula presented her first logo propositions to the principal director of Microsoft Windows, she asked him a simple question: “Your name is Windows. Why are you a flag?” She went on to create a logo that is modern, highly representative and still in use to this day.

Ref.: here

Ruth Kedar, Google (May 31, 1999 to September 1, 2015)

Ruth Kedar was a teacher at Stanford University, California in 1999 when she was approached by two Ph. D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Ruth was tasked with designing a unique logo that would focus on play and differentiation. Kedar’s logo, based on Catull typeface gained instant recognizability and over the next 11 years, became one of the most iconic logos in the world. Although the logo was redesigned to a more simplified version in 2010, it retained its original colourful qualities, while remaining unique.

Ref.: here and here

Lucia DeRespinis, Dunkin Donuts

Lucia DeRespinis graduated from Pratt Institute in 1950 and was one of just three female students in a class of 63. Very few industrial designers in the 1950s were women and Lucia DeRespinis was often referred to as “the only industrial designer who is a woman”. This remained true for many years after working on various projects in industrial and graphic design. One of her notable graphic design achievements was the Dunkin Donuts logo, which she created in 1975 while working for the agency Sandgren & Martha. She chose playful orange and pink colours for the logo, which also happened to be her daughter’s favourite colours at the time.

Ref.: here and here

Debbie Millman, Burger King

“One of the most influential designers working today”, as named by Graphic Design USA , Debbie Millman is also a founder and host of Design Matters, the world’s first podcast focused on design and world’s most creative people. Having designed everything from wrapping paper to Star Wars merchandise, Debbie is also known for her rebrand of Burger King in 1994. She updated the original version with a slight tilt and a blue swirl.

Ref.: here and here

About the author

Natasha Yefman is the founder and creative director of Studio Azura, a digital agency specializing in branding, web development and inbound marketing.

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