Pioneering Women who Changed the Face of Design

As we prep to celebrate Women’s History Month in March, it’s a great opportunity to recognize and appreciate the contributions of women in the field of design. While there are countless women in design to highlight, we’ve selected 6 extra-ordinary women who have changed the face of design in the recent years.

“Design is an act of feminism. It is about giving women the power to shape their own lives and the world around them.”

– Grace Bonney


March is just around the corner, and it’s time to gear up for Women’s History Month! It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate and recognize the tremendous contributions of women in the field of design. From classic architecture to modern design trends, women have been changing the face of design for as long as we can remember.

When we talk about groundbreaking female designers, names like Ray Eames, Greta Magnusson, Charlotte Perriand, Eileen Gray, and Florence Knoll instantly come to mind. These women have created movement-defining works that have propelled modernism into the twenty-first century.

But the list of extraordinary women in design continues. So, let’s take a moment to celebrate some of these remarkable women.

Here are six women that have made a significant impact on the design world in recent years:

women in design

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid

“There are 360 degrees. Why stick to one?”

British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid (1950–2016) left a lasting impression on the field of architecture. Her spectacular constructions enhance the skylines of major metropolitan cities.

Hadid is known for her futuristic buildings such as Beijing’s Galaxy Soho, the London Aquatics Center, and the Guangzhou Opera House, to her dazzling superyachts.

women in design

Heydar Aliyev centre, Baku, Azerbaijan. Photograph, Zaha Hadid architects

The ingenuity and inspiration that Hadid personified are her greatest contributions. She saw modernity as an unfinished task that needed to be taken on. As an architect who continually pushes the boundaries of architecture and thereby urban design. Hadid has left us with some great work. 

Hadid also taught her students how to create revolutionary forms in real life. Which is just as important as teaching them how to envision them. Her gravity-defying and drama-filled designs have created new possibilities for architectural thinking, research, and practice. And will always be valued in the architectural world. 


Diane von Furstenberg, Photo credits: Joshua Kessler


Diane Von Furstenberg

“I never knew what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be.”

The Belgian-born designer is one of the most inspiring icons in the fashion industry. She worked hard to start her fashion enterprise from scratch after learning that fear is never an option as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. 

In 1974, she changed the fashion industry forever with the creation of her iconic ‘wrap dress’. It not only defined 1970s fashion but subsequently also became a symbol of power and independence for women worldwide. The wrap dress transcended time with its popularity and soon grew into a global brand.

Photo Coutresy: Victor Virgilr Gamma Rapho; Getty Images

In addition to her fashion career, Von Furstenberg is also a philanthropist. She supports various causes such as women’s empowerment, the environment, and human rights. DVF is also part of a thriving Motiva creator community. Her work on the ‘InCharge’ Motiva features her hand-picked quotes on womanhood and leadership.

Diane, with her extraordinary talent & powerful charisma, continues to inspire generations of women around the world.


Anna Wintour holds her medal for Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to fashion and journalism by Queen Elizabeth II. Photo courtesy: Dominic Lipinksky Getty


Anna Wintour

“The best way to make a dream come true is to wake up.”

As the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue for over three decades, Anna Wintour has become an iconic figure in the fashion world, known for her signature blunt bob, dark sunglasses, and unwavering vision. However, there is much more to Wintour than her distinct style.

In 1983, she was appointed as the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, and she quickly set about transforming the magazine into the fashion powerhouse it is today. Under Wintour’s leadership, Vogue has become one of the most influential fashion publications in the world.

Queen Elizabeth II sits next to Anna Wintour, Richard Quinn’s runway show

As a woman in a position of power, she has shattered glass ceilings and has opened doors for the next generation of female leaders in fashion. However, Wintour’s impact on the fashion industry goes beyond her role at Vogue.

She has been a vocal advocate for diversity and inclusion, both within the fashion industry and in society at large. She has used her platform to shine a light on issues such as racial inequality and gender discrimination and has been a driving force behind initiatives to promote diversity in fashion.

Wintour continues to shape the fashion world and inspire future generations. There is no doubt that Anna Wintour will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

Photo credits: Jeremy Sutton Hibbert, Getty Images


Yayoi Kusama

“I wanted to start a revolution, using art to build the sort of society I myself envisioned.”

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who has gained international acclaim for her work in a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, performance art, and installation art.

Kusama’s work is often characterized by its use of bright colors and bold patterns, as well as its exploration of themes such as infinity, repetition, and the dissolution of the self. Her best-known works are perhaps her “Infinity Rooms,” which are immersive, mirror-lined spaces that create the illusion of infinite space.

Image Ernesto Galan, courtesy David Zwirner; Love is Calling 2013

Despite facing significant challenges throughout her life and career, Kusama has remained a prolific and influential artist. In 2021, Time magazine named her among one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Kusama’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, including the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. She continues to create new work and inspire new generations of artists with her unique vision and unyielding spirit.


Jessica Walsh

Jessica Walsh

“Do work that feeds your soul, not your ego.”

In the fast-paced world of graphic design, it’s rare for someone to make partner at a major firm at the young age of 25. But that’s exactly what happened to Jessica Walsh when she joined forces with Stefan Sagmeister to form Sagmeister and Walsh.

During her time collaborating with Sagmeister, Walsh was able to put her unique set of skills to use. Specializing in handcraft, photography, and painting with digital design, Walsh brought a new perspective to website design, typography, branding, and art installations.

women in design

40 days of dating by Jessica Walsh

Walsh’s bold and emotional style has left her mark on the industry. Her work has caught the attention of large companies such as Levi’s and Adobe, as well as prestigious institutions like The Jewish Museum of New York. In 2019, Walsh fulfilled a lifelong dream by opening her own design studio, becoming one of only 36 creative studios in the U.S. that are headed by women. Her rise in the graphic design field has been nothing short of spectacular, and she is now widely considered one of the top ten graphic designers in the industry.


women in design

Malika Favre for Arab News


Malika Favre

“What is fascinating about illustration is that there are no limits. You are only limited by your imagination.”

Malika Favre is a French illustrator and graphic artist based in London. Malika has always believed in ‘less is more’.  Known to have captured the audience with her bold style and minimalism, a hint of quirky sets her apart from the rest.

Malika Favre and Motiva

Favre with her Motiva ‘L’envol’

Malika’s artwork primarily reflects themes around women and women’s empowerment. They are characterized based on her bold, strong, sensual, and independent expression of femininity. Malika’s latest collaboration with Motiva features her artwork called ‘L’envol’. Her work on this art piece enables Malika to amplify her efforts in voicing women’s concerns and raising awareness.

Publications such as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Vogue have featured her distinctive style along with brands such as Apple, Sephora, and Penguin Books.

Malika’s optimal use of tints, curved lines & spirals of colors, and patterns is instantly recognized today and held in adoration. She is today one of the most sought-after artists in the industry, and her work continues to inspire and captivate audiences around the world.

women in design

Women Representation at Motiva

While there is still a long way to go in achieving true gender equality, celebrating and empowering women is an essential step in the right direction. By collaborating with extraordinary female artists, creators, and thought leaders such as Malika Favre, Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Devis, Dana Oberson, and more; Motiva recognizes, promotes, and celebrates talented women that have been marking their place in the field of design and art.

Motiva, with its philosophical art, provides a unique tool to amplify inspiring ideas and messages. While encouraging women to dream big, speak up, and take action.
As we continue to celebrate women this month, Motiva continues its efforts in highlighting and celebrating women in design.

Together, we can make a difference and create a brighter, more inclusive future for all.