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Panning through the glorious AIA website, I stumbled across this depressing goldmine:

"Firsts" for other groups, such as Hispanic or Asian-American members, are not known. This would be a fruitful topic for future research…

…Asian American women identifiable by name include Po Hu Shao who joined in 1958, and Theresa Hsu Yuen who joined in 1964.

Identifiable by name only. My hat off to you two lovely anonymous ladies. I have no images of them, no history on them, nothing. What buildings did these women architect? Who were their influences? I don’t know.

I use the word “goldmine” because at least we have their names, which means there’s potential for more research.

Moreover, let’s talk about industrial designer, and total babe, Ms. Greta Von Nessen.


Greta Von Nessen, Anywhere Lamp, 1951, aluminum and enameled steel

First of all: where is this fabulous woman’s monograph??? I’ve been researching her for the last month, constantly running into dead ends after being bounced from one scholar to the next.

So who is Greta Von Nessen? Well, the brief, much-too-easy answer is: she was born 1900, died 1978, and was the wife of Walter Von Nessen, who was also an industrial designer (whose life and works have been thoroughly documented, interestingly enough).

After Mr. Von Nessen’s death in 1943, the Ms. continued her husband’s lighting and furniture design business. It was at this point our girl really began fiddling around with materials and designing her own things. In 1951 she came up with this total cutie (pictured above), the widely successful Anywhere Lamp, which was heavily reported on, pictured, and publicized upon its release.

The best part about this lamp? When it came out in 1951, there was nothing like it, but at the same time, there was absolutely nothing new about it; all of the lamp’s parts had been available as early as the 1920s.

It was Ms. Von Nessen who decided instead of totally reinventing the wheel, to wield already-been made parts together (each from different design periods) to create something completely new. Amazing! And it was extremely popular. In a sense, her lamp was a game-changer–or at least part the effort towards taking design to its next level.

And that’s all I know about our girl Greta. Which is definitely a lot more than our poor ladies Po Hu Shao or Theresa Hsu Yuen, previously mentioned. But none of this is enough. We need (I need) to know more. If anyone has any more information on these fabulous women, please send it Whoa Girl’s way.

3 years ago
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