Seven female designers making waves in Canada
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Seven female designers making waves in Canada

Dezeen reporter Eleanor Gibson has selected seven women designers on the rise in Canada, following a Toronto exhibition that spotlighted the country's female talent to challenge inequality in the industry.

Titled Capacity, the annual exhibition featured designs solely by Canadian women during the Toronto Offsite Design Festival (TODO) in January. When the show first launched eight years ago, it was among the first to celebrate women in the design industry.

"We realised that there weren't a lot of venues for women in design to be recognised and that it is a very male-dominated field," Capacity co-founder Katherine Morley told Dezeen.

In the wake of a growing awareness of gender equality in both design and architecture, Morley said the ambition was "more relevant than ever" for this year's edition.

We've selected some of the designers from the show and a few other Canadian women whose work we admire, coinciding with the launch of our initiative to improve diversity called Move the Needle and this week's International Women's Day.

Read on for our list of seven Canadian female designers to watch:


Zoë Mowat

A cabinet painted using sumi ink, red dye and two shades of Japanese indigo is among the recent works by Zoë Mowat – a furniture and homeware designer based in Montreal.

Mowat's work has featured in a number of international exhibitions, including one that reinterpreted objects from the American Shaker movement and a showcase of the inaugural collection of Japanese furniture producer Ariake.


Lauren Reed

Toronto-based designer Lauren Reed has an "obsession for order" that plays out in repetitive shapes across her homeware products, including a zig-zagging bookshelf and a lamp built on six stacked rings.

She presented three pendulums for the Capacity exhibition, including one that is turned upside down so that the swing is on top.


Alissa Coe

Alissa Coe's designs include a set of hand-thrown and slip-cast vases for a Toronto florist, a porcelain and wood chandelier for the city's Four Seasons Hotel, and cast concrete and aluminium lamps.

The designer produces her ceramics and sculptural installations from her small Toronto studio.


Chifen Cheng

Chifen Cheng is a product designer who was born in Taiwan and grew up in Montreal. She is now based in UK, where she is studying at the Royal College of Art in London.

With the aim to create "honest" products, she often employs simple geometric forms like circles and hexagonals.


10 female Canadian designers you should know

Katrina Tompkins

Katrina Tompkins creates everyday objects with a pared-back aesthetic, from a chair based on a stool for milking, to a chopping board that is half Corian and half cork.

The designer recently relocated to Prince Edward County, where she is building a barn to teach courses in furniture making.


Kate Duncan

Vancouver-based woodworker Kate Duncan describes her products as having a "Japanese aesthetic, with a nod to mid-century designers". Her collections of tables, bed frames and chairs are named fondly after her ex-girlfriends.

By employing women in her studio, as well as running "gender-neutral" woodworking courses, Duncan says she is hoping to challenge the "male-dominated industry" of furniture and woodworking.


Talia Silva

Talia Silva is a graduate of Canadian art and design university OCAD and based in Toronto.

She casts multiple stoneware objects with the same mould, before detailing them individually with hand tools, paint and glaze. Etching marks, colours blocks and gradients, and speckled patterns decorate her collections of vases, cups and plant pots.