Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

Like Deborah, Gere is one amazing designer and woman. When I spoke with her, I realized just how she was able to create an impressive body of work that spanned traditionally silo-ed industries; she simply had laser focus and determination. With Gere, there wasn't wasted energy on self-doubt. All her efforts were spent on moving forward. 

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Laura Raskin
Published: 16 June 2014, Architectural Record

Gere Kavanaugh. Photo by: Christine Kim.
In Los Angeles, June is the month for design. Coinciding with Dwell on Design (June 20-22) at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the Los Angeles Design Festival (LADF) celebrates local and international talent with a series of events. Last year, LADF introduced the Julia Morgan Icon Award, intended to recognize a bold woman and her outstanding contributions to the design industry. This year’s recipient is Gere Kavanaugh, one of California’s pioneer female designers.

Kavanaugh earned her BFA from the Memphis Academy of Art and was one of the first women to receive an MFA from Michigan's Cranbrook Academy of Art. She began her career working at the architectural arm of General Motors in Detroit. Then she became head of interiors for shopping mall design pioneer Victor Gruen. When Kavanaugh began her studio in the 1960s, she shared office space with Frank Gehry, Don Chadwick, and last year’s Julia Morgan Icon Award recipient Deborah Sussman.

For more than 35 years, Kavanaugh has crafted a career that defies specialization. She’s done graphics and interiors for Joseph Magnin department stores and Hallmark greeting cards; graphic design for Max Factor and Pepsi-Cola; even a research room and typeface for the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. She was honored Friday night at LADF’s opening party. A special one-night installation of her work will be on view at Artecnica’s showroom on June 20. RECORD spoke to Kavanaugh, 85, about her approach and motivations, and thoughts on design in Los Angeles. [read more]


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