Inspirational Women in Design

March 06, 2020

To honour International Women’s Day 2020, we are celebrating great women in design. 


Alice Rawsthorn

Trying to fit all of Alice Rawsthorn’s accomplishments into this post has proven to be challenging so we’ll give you a précis. 

We first got to know Alice over 20 years ago in her role as writer for Wallpaper* magazine, where we had the pleasure of editing her work, and found her to be the best and least egotistical writer the magazine had. We later met again when Alice worked as an award-winning design critic for The New York Times.

But “writer” is only one of the many hats Alice has worn. Amongst other things, she is a successful public speaker (watch her TED talk), she is a social media commentator and an author. Her latest book, Design as an Attitude, is pictured here and a new edition comes out later this month. 

Alice brings depth, context and proper meaning to everything she does. Her cerebral take on design is unrivalled, and her knowledge is vast.  We also love her generous nature – she always champions women in design and beyond – and, if we’re being shallow for a moment, we very much wish we had her immaculate sense of style. 

Christine Samuelian- Director, Friends & Co –  (Photography: Michael Leckie)


Ruth Aram

On a balcony high up in an office building in the outskirts of Milan, balancing Aperol spritzes and canapés, Ruth Aram was talking to me about motherhood. Ruth was a client of ours from 2015 to 2017. 

As the head of retail at ARAM, the iconic London design store founded by her father Zeev in the 1960s, she was a highly respected force in the retail design world.  Ruth seemed relieved, like me, for the opportunity to chat about something other than industry gossip or whether a particular new chair will become a future classic.  She generously shared her thoughts and experiences about parenthood and navigating the teenager years, having been at it longer, and with more children than me.  

This was Ruth.  She wouldn’t hesitate to offer support when needed whether it was personal or professional.  As a client she thoughtfully considered our suggestions, and wasn’t quick to dismiss them as too unusual or not-quite-right.  The ideas sometimes didn’t materialise, but that didn’t matter – we felt her openness at every meeting. 

It’s been a year a half since she passed away at the age of 52 and when thinking about an inspirational woman in the design industry – we always think of Ruth. 

Belinda Fisher- Director, Friends & Co


Florence Broadhurst

Florence Broadhurst (1899-1977) was a prolific Australian wallpaper and textile designer through the 1960s and 70s.

We love Florence because she was ahead of her time, experimenting with innovative processes, bold patterns and striking colours which are as relevant today as when Florence created them.

Florence lived an eccentric life of self-reinvention. From the Australian outback, to exploring the Far East as a showgirl and eventually setting up a Bond Street salon as French couturier ‘Madame Pellier’ from which she clothed the aristocracy.

Patricia Gill- Senior Consultant, Friends & Co
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