In this blog series, we shine a light on women trailblazers in the design industry – women who have earned a Wikipedia page (or are likely to very soon). You might not know them by name, but definitely by their work and influence on the design world as a whole.
This month, we’re celebrating renowned architect Zaha Hadid. As her professor described her at graduation, Zaha Hadid was “a planet in her own orbit”. She stayed true to her unique vision throughout her impressive career and continuously moved architectural design forward. She became the first woman to receive the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.
Hadid was often called the “queen of the curve“. Her expressive designs pushed the limits of architectural geometry. Famously opposed to straight lines and mediocrity, her fluid-like structures breathe new life into the spaces around them. Her work includes some of the most iconic buildings in the world. She designed museums, opera houses, stadiums, art & science centers, and more. She loved designing buildings she knew would encourage culture in the community.
Hadid was born in Baghdad, Iraq. In an interview with The Guardian, she credited “the rivers and the dunes” of Iraq as inspiration for her concepts. She studied architecture in London, and was touted by her professors as one of the best students they ever taught. Even early in her career, people recognized her ability to bring the seemingly impossible to life. She went on to open her own architecture firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, and taught architecture at several schools, such as Harvard Graduate School of Design and Cambridge University.
While she is widely regarded as the world’s top female architect, Hadid often refused this categorization, insisting that she was simply an architect and should be referred to as such. She expressed that she experienced sexism and racism during her career, and she hopes her journey shows young women that the glass ceiling can be broken.
Hadid’s creativity wasn’t limited to architecture. She explored other mediums, such as collaborating with brands in the fashion industry to create conceptually and visually stunning shoes.
Zaha Hadid’s enduring impact on architecture and design as a whole is undeniable. The world experienced a great loss when she passed away in 2016. Her strong, creative spirit lives on through her work and the many people she’s inspired.
“When people see something fantastic they think that it’s not possible to achieve it in real life. But that’s not true. You can achieve amazing things.”Zaha Hadid, The Guardian Interview “Zaha Hadid: I Don’t Make Nice Little Buildings”