Marking International Women’s Day 2023, the national women’s advocacy group Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation will release its debut episode of Season 2 of the acclaimed audio documentary series, New Angle: Voice. Starting March 8 and following a highly successful first season, New Angle: Voicecontinues to document the lives and legacies of pioneering yet under-recognized women in the history of architecture and design, beginning with the story of groundbreaking designer Ray Eames.
In 2022 the audio documentary series, which blossomed into a national hit with tens of thousands of dedicated listeners, won major grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the prestigious Graham Foundation. The second season’s premiere on March 8, International Women’s Day, presents an insightful and rich narrated history of Ray Eames (1912-1988), whose pioneering contributions in the arts, architecture, graphic design, textile design and furniture innovation have had a profound effect on the trajectory of those fields.
“Our original story about Ray Eames draws on new research of her years as a painter in New York, from archival footage and audio of her media appearances as well as interviews with Eames family members and employees of Eames Office, their design studio in Venice, California,” says Cynthia Phifer Kracauer AIA, creative leader of the series and executive director of Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF). “The interviews also offer a deep-dive into manufacturer Herman Miller’s archives, showcasing the bold ideas sometimes obscured by Ray’s self-effacing public persona.”
The pioneering audio series New Angle: Voice is created and produced by BWAF and its executive director Phifer Kracauer, who is joined in conceiving and producing the audio documentaries by noted writer and editor Alexandra Lange Ph.D. and the acclaimed producer Brandi Howell. The primary sponsor of New Angle: Voice is MillerKnoll, a collective of dynamic brands and an influential modern design company.
Following the debut episode on Ray Eames, new episodes of New Angle: Voice in 2023 will include the amazing stories of trailblazing African American architect Amaza Lee Meredith (1895-1984), the architect and industrial designer Anna Wagner Keichline (1889–1943), and famed Wall Street Journal architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable (1921-2013).
Season Two Premiere: Ray Eames
The introductory episode on the legacy of Ray Eames is informed by interviews with Eames Foundation board members Lucia Dewey Atwood and Llisa Demetrios, the film art director and production designer Jeannine Oppewall, as well as Library of Congress collaborators Meg McAleer and Tracey Barton. In addition, the design curator Donald Albrecht and design historian Pat Kirkham contribute to the Eames episode.
Later this second season, episodes feature interviews with architecture and design critics Christopher Hawthorne, Eric Gibson and Karrie Jacobs on the life story of Ada Louise Huxtable. For the episode featuring Black architect Amaza Lee Meredith, insights come from a senior executive of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and leader of the “Where Women Made History” campaign, Christina Morris. The episode on Anna Keichline includes comments from Sarah Lichtman, dean of the Parsons School of Design, as well as from industrial designer Nancy Perkins, who is Keichline’s great-niece. Background on a Cambridge, Mass.-based firm The Architects Collaborative, with founding members including Jean B. Fletcher (1915-1965) and Sarah P. Harkness (1914-2013), comes from Bloomberg Green editor Amanda Hurley and the professor of architectural history Michael Kubo.
"The New Angle: Voice series pulls forward the stories of women who've helped to define the fields of architecture and design,” says Amy Auscherman, Director of Global Archives and Brand Heritage at MillerKnoll. “With the spotlight on Ray Eames in the debut episode, season two kicks off with a bang, taking a deep look into Ray's significant oeuvre across many disciplines. Ray's contributions to the work of the Eames Office were severely overlooked during her lifetime. This episode helps to rectify that and includes digitized interviews culled from our archive that provide an intimate look into her problem-solving approach to design.”
In its opening season 2021-2022, the New Angle: Voice audio documentaries covered the stories of Julia Morgan, the first woman to attend the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and Norma Merrick Sklarek, the African American architect who oversaw the construction of the largest U.S. shopping mall. Other episodes spotlight the pioneering women Natalie de Blois, Helen Fong, and Florence Knoll, and can be found on Apple Podcasts. The work by BWAF’s Kracauer and team earned wide praise and major grants from the NEA, the NEH and the Graham Foundation — along with tens of thousands of listeners globally.
New Angle: Voice embodies the mission of BWAF, to lead a cultural revolution in the building industry that will acknowledge, cultivate, and value women’s contributions and achievements — past, present, and future. The series shines a spotlight on the often untold or forgotten stories of American women who broke barriers of gender, race, and education, offering the recognition they deserve for redefining the physical landscape of this country and reinventing the role of women in leadership.
“Fighting the sexism and misogyny of white male-dominated American architectural offices, these women design leaders overcame prevalent issues of professional disrespect for mothers and the persistent mythology of the individual creator,” says Kracauer. “Our goal with New Angle: Voice is to document and preserve these important but easily overshadowed or forgotten achievements as we also correct the record of our greatest leaders in architecture and design.”
Adds Kracauer, “We’re excited to debut our second season in observance of International Women’s Day, and share with others globally the essential mission of elevating the voices of women. around the world.”
The Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF) is leading a cultural revolution in the building industry that acknowledges, cultivates, and values women’s contributions and achievements — past, present, and future. BWAF advocates for gender equity in leadership and recognition in architecture, design, landscape, engineering, technology, real estate and construction. BWAF achieves its mission by researching and documenting women’s contributions and achievements in the built realm, educating the public, and transforming industry practices. Through exhibitions, websites, media, public and invitation-only programs, and our acclaimed New Angle: Voice series of audio documentaries, BWAF collaborates with museums, universities, professional organizations, and other groups to advance women. We cultivate leaders at all levels. Through our work, we seek to build global change.
Images Courtesy: BWAF: L. to R: New episodes recount the lives of Amaza Lee Meredith, Ray Eames, and Ada Louise Huxtable