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Designing Women

Four remarkable women challenge the narrative through extraordinary new collections.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting the latest collections by four fearless women creatives who constantly evolve to sculpt their own narratives, forever changing the landscape of design in the process. While the annals of history paint women as the architects of the early design realm—including the decoration of dwellings, the weaving of textiles, and the crafting and adorning of pottery and jewelry—their contributions are often overlooked. The following four unforgettable women, while wildly different, share unique core characteristics that have propelled them to success and define their respective collections with storied brands. From seizing opportunities to an unwavering curiosity—in everything from culture and travel, to food, fashion, and more, along with a self-aware and empathetic nature—they’re all united by the storytelling aspect of design, using that language to redefine parameters and challenge conventions. Their indomitable spirits, resilience, and boundless creativity are their legacies.

CLARKE & CLARKE x Breegan Jane

Breegan Jane

Mombasa, one of Breegan Jane’s most spectacular wallcovering designs for Clarke & Clarke, recalls the tropical beauty of Kenya, where the designer (pictured) spends time doing philanthropic work. “Although the collection is playful and beautiful, there is a lot of my own purpose woven into it,” she says. Through Kravet.

A firm believer in “taking all the meetings,” designer, author, TV personality, and philanthropist Breegan Jane found herself sitting, slightly clueless, at a table with six women brand heads from Clarke & Clarke and Sanderson Design Group, its parent company. “I wasn’t even sure who was going to be there,” says Breegan Jane. “But it immediately became apparent that the brands had some incredibly strong, passionate women at the helm. So, when they brought forth the idea of a brand partnership, I could see that my voice was going to be heard. That gave me confidence—because as my career has developed, I’ve realized that partnerships must feel organic and naturally connected. My brand is all about women empowerment, it was kismet.”

To start, Breegan Jane hit Sanderson Design Group’s hundreds-of-years-old archives. “I love the storytelling aspect behind them all,” she explains. “You can pull out any collection, even just from 75 years ago and, based on the textile, pinpoint exactly where we were in humanity at that moment and what our values were. So, I see patternmaking as our version of leaving hieroglyphics behind for the future,” she adds.

The Clarke & Clarke x Breegan Jane collection—available exclusively through Kravet—consists of eight aspirational wallpapers and ten stunning fabrics—all printed on FSC-certified substrates and sourced sustainably. “I looked at the future differently once I became a parent and saw how our actions affect our world,” Breegan Jane explains. The vibrant collection is inspired by nature, the designer’s travels, and her activist work in Kenya. “I’m a maximalist, and I live life by balancing things out—and by that, I mean I add to my plate, and give 100 percent to each important moment.”

SANDERSON x Jennifer Manners

Jennifer Manners

Left: Hand-knotted in the Tibetan style, Manners’ eye-catching Fan Palm rug for Sanderson was inspired by one of the brand’s archival wallpapers. “It really resonated with me that they have all these classic patterns in their arsenal—they’re iconic and they feel intuitive to the environment in which they were created,” says Manners. “Also, after years of everything being beige and grayish, I was excited to use color in a way that’s happy without being overpowering.”
Right: Consisting of small-scale diamonds and zigzags, the Cheslyn rug takes its name from a historic Sanderson pattern, adapted to a larger scale for a more contemporary appeal. Each rug from the Icon collection is fabricated from Manners’s proprietary eco-friendly fibers—which are made from 100 percent recycled water bottles treated in a process that mimics the look and feel of natural wool.

When London-based designer Jennifer Manners was tapped by luxury furnishings brand Sanderson to design a rug collection using her proprietary /re/Purpose Performance fibers (which are composed of recycled water bottles)—she was thrilled. “Lisa Montague was Sanderson’s new CEO, and she had a real drive to take the brand into a much more sustainably focused set of objectives right from the start. She came from fashion—an industry that seems to drive sustainability from a luxury angle faster than the interiors world,” explains Manners. While the designer delightedly accepted, she first had to get the “fiber up to a level that merits the investment of a handmade product.”

Once achieved, its incredible performance attributes were also realized—an unexpected yet positive surprise. Next came narrowing down the classic patterns she wanted to reinterpret. “I was hugely impressed by Sanderson,” says Manners. “Not just because it’s an 1860 heritage company (their archives contain wallpapers that are hundreds of years old!), but because they were so open to everything. I thought they were going to be so tough with what we can interpret and how we can interpret it, but they were just focused on creating beautiful rugs.” What resulted was Icon—a collection of five of Sanderson’s most quintessential patterns, including a damask, botanical prints, an ikat, and classic small-scale patterns reinterpreted with a contemporary twist (and with Manners’ eco-friendly fibers). A former foreign news journalist, Manners equates her previous career to design storytelling. “I also just love the idea that hundreds of years later, these patterns that were created by women (ikats, especially) are still being used—that’s a testament to classic design.”

BAKER x Paola Navone

Paola Navone

Navone’s collection for Baker Furniture includes the enveloping Mediterraneo sofa, the Torre chair (at left)—its extra-tall backrest references the towers of famed Italian cities—and the Volare family of pendant, table, and floor lamps, which takes its name from the popular Italian song. Also shown: the variously sized Sospiri tables in cast Murano glass; Tirreno Cocktail table; and the Trevi Spot and Side tables (left of sofa).

“The beginning of any collaboration is always enchanting,” says Italian architect Paola Navone, founder and creative visionary of the multidisciplinary design firm, OTTO Studio. “It can be the attraction to a place, a story, or a craft tradition— something that tickles our imagination. Without that alchemy, it’s difficult for a project to come to life,” she continues. A chemistry-filled collaboration between Navone, her firm, and iconic furnishings brand Baker Furniture, resulted in the Paola Navone Collection—a European-style grouping of 24 striking designs varying from tables, to seating, and lighting, with each product category named after an iconic Italian attraction. Each individual piece features soft lines countered with powerful materials such as cast bronze, Murano glass, acrylic, and Carrara C marble—that simultaneously pay homage to Italian manufacturing traditions and the exceptional craftsmanship Baker’s heritage commands. While the romanticized Mediterranean lifestyle and the relaxed informality and spontaneity of Italian gatherings formed a reference point for the collection, each design, says Navone, “has its own identity, and features the hint of imperfection that belongs to handmade items.” The top of the Murano glass Trevi Cocktail table, for example, features a corrugated texture that recalls the surface of the water in its namesake Roman fountain.

A sense of elegance and simplicity define Navone’s work, and while she states travel and staying curious are as important as breathing to her, she doesn’t have to go far to gain inspiration. “A simple trip to the market can reveal small wonders,” she says. “The value is knowing how to spot them.”

ANN SACKS x Shea McGee

Shea McGee

The Canyon Lake collection of Moroccan-influenced, dimensional tiles is available in six gorgeous, glazed colorways, including Sea Salt (glossy version shown here), Dusty Rose, and Mist. “For longevity,” says McGee, “I think it’s best to embrace a color palette that can be found in elements of nature.”

“Versatility is at the heart of my collections for Ann Sacks,” says McGee. “There was a seamless cohesion between our brands and the way we wanted the finished product to look and feel in the context of a home.”

Author, designer, and star of the beloved, Emmy-nominated Netflix show, Dream Home Makeover, Shea McGee has built a career out of making life beautiful. As the co-founder and the creative force behind the multifaceted design house Studio McGee, she’s become a household name by empowering her millions of fans with the knowledge that luxury design can be accessible. In her latest venture, McGee designed three versatile tile collections for Ann Sacks. “I’ve used Ann Sacks in some capacity in nearly every home I’ve designed,” she says. “They’re experts in their field and they’re just as excited about the nuances of textures and materials as I am.” To start, McGee worked alongside the Ann Sacks’ design team to identify gaps within their product assortment where she felt she could provide the Studio McGee aesthetic and vision. What resulted is three distinctive collections that exude livable luxury. Canyon Lake, a zellige-inspired tile that blends the tactility and movement of old-world tiles with the durability necessary for everyday living, features subtle variations and an alluring color palette that references nature. Willow Heights, meanwhile, consists of two marble mosaics influenced by the parquet flooring style, Brynn and Rylee. Lastly, Novah is a beautifully executed porcelain tile designed to illustrate the variances of limestone—slightly distressed edges add to its charm. “I give my all to the things I choose to spend my time on,” says McGee. “Approaching everything you do with a sense of curiosity means you’re always learning and that will naturally be reflected in what you’re producing.”