With coronavirus cases rising and wildfires continuing to burn, it has been a long and hard few months for the state of California. Nevertheless in Los Angeles, life must go on, even if virtually. Last week, the LA Design Festival pressed forward with its programming, armed with the mission of confronting the recent social, political, technological and environmental shifts that have impacted life as we know it.

‘Evolved Resolve’

One poignant embodiment of the festival’s theme this year, Design for the Future, comes in the shape of the virtual exhibition, ‘Evolved Resolve’, organised by the Female Design Council. Curated by the council’s founder Lora Appleton, and powered by the collectible art and design marketplace InCollect, the digital showcase brings together furniture, sculpture, lighting, jewellery and ceramics from a wonderfully diverse range of female makers and creatives.

Habba by Yard Concept
Interlockingvessels by mansi-shah

Above, Habba by Dina Nur Satti for Yard Concept. Below, Interlocking vessels by Mansi Shah

‘This stellar collection of works [comes] with a focus on strong and unique forms,’ says Appleton. ‘Womxn-made and designed, masterful in construction, and at times delicate and subversive, these pieces reflect the spirit and dedication of our makers.’

Female Design Council

The Female Design Council is an action-lead organisation dedicated to providing a professional community for female and female-identified persons in the design industry. From brokering conversations about gender parity and equity to ensuring equal representation, regardless of socio-economic backgrounds, disciplines and colour, the council also provides its members with business guidance, mentorship and exposure for themselves and their work through its programme of events. Since March, of course, these have had to be conducted digitally, through weekly meetings offering crisis and business information to provide industry-specific support.

Eny Lee Parker
Eny Lee Parker

‘During lockdown, in the early stages of the pandemic, a lot of our community was removed from their studios, showrooms, and workshops. It became easy to lose who we are creatively, as our creative and production systems had all been removed,’ recounts Appleton. ‘Through the FDC community, we began to see womxn find ways of reemerging, shifting their practices to accommodate this new reality, and in watching one another we were inspired to move through the difficulty and into the light. I too, was reminded who I am and how important my creativity was through this time, and an idea for a show emerged.’

With so many designers having to embrace new models and shift their modes of working, ‘Evolved Resolve’ is a celebration not only of the work, but also of the power of perseverance.

Black womxn in design

Probably most significant of all is the simultaneous launch of the Female Design Council Grant 01 – an inaugural grant initiative to support Black womxn designers in the United States. As part of a pledge to provide direct funding to Black womxn in design, two financial awards of $2,500 are available to a Black female-led design studio or individual and intended to help them make that first step – taking an idea into the prototype or production phase.

Moon by Beverly Morrison
Moon by Beverly Morrison

‘We had been working hard to develope different ways to get young womxn into design, however through the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, it became clear to me how dire the opportunities for specifically Black womxn in design and architecture are (often less than 5 per cent),’ Appleton shares. ‘I felt it urgent and necessary to design a program to support Black womxn’s ideas and to put time, effort and money behind supporting Black womxn’s projects, their creativity and mentor them through an often overwhelming and expensive industry’.

Appleton continues, ‘the FDC is a strong group, filled with all types of womxn in design and architecture, and we as a community have committed to supporting our fellow womxn; young, old, Black, IPOC, trans, non-binary and more. We tied this launch to the show to give a visual of what is possible; to show young womxn that their ideas can transform into power. To see it, is to believe it.’ §