Author(s): Louise Sandhaus; Kat Catmur
The designer Gere Kavanaugh is an irrepressible force of nature who epitomized the craft and folk vibe of the '60s and '70s California design scene and remains a larger-than-life personality today. Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Kavanaugh became in 1952 only the third woman to earn a degree in Cranbrook Academy of Art's design program. After successful stints as one of GM's so-called Damsels of Design and as director of interiors for Victor Gruen's architecture and planning firm, she opened Gere Kavanaugh/Designs. There, Kavanaugh put her unique stamp on textiles, furniture, toys, graphics, store and restaurant interiors, holiday decor, housewares, and public art--even designing and curating exhibitions. But perhaps her most enduring project has been the joyful, open-ended, ongoing experiment of her own lifestyle and homes, a dream of color and handcraft. Kavanaugh was awarded the AIGA Medal in 2016, recognizing her "prodigious and polymathic approach to design."