International Women’s Day: Interviews + Visits

A few of the enthralling conversations we've had with brilliant women since last year's 8 March

Women from all over the world achieve the remarkable every day, and should always be championed and celebrated. At Cool Hunting, we’re in a uniquely fortunate position to meet creative, clever, inspiring and inventive women all the time—from artists and designers to sex tech entrepreneurs, community leaders and beyond. And while the mission of International Women’s Day extends far beyond acknowledging women for one fleeting moment each year, it’s an excellent excuse to shine a spotlight on some of the most interesting conversations—gathered below—that we have had with brilliant women since last 8 March.

Studio Visit: Illustrator Olimpia Zagnoli

Specializing in editorial illustration, Olimpia Zagnoli is one of the most important Italian artists of her generation. Her style is bold, playful and immediately recognizable—whether it’s on the cover of The New Yorker, within the pages of La Repubblica, on fabrics for Marella, or as part of a Prada campaign. We were delighted to visit Zagnoli at her Milan studio recently… Read more.

Behind Niyya’s Design-Minded Prayer Mats with Founder Myhra Mirza

Religious wares are oftentimes traditional and ornate (even outdated). This makes sense considering they’re rooted in rituals that are thousands of years old. It’s not common that a religious object is functional and authentic while also being contemporary and design-forward. But for Brooklyn-based designer Myhra Mirza, prayer mats (used predominantly within the Muslim faith) existed on two ends of the spectrum: they were either traditional and detailed or intentionally plain. She wondered if there could be a middle ground. With her brand Niyya, Mirza produces pieces in America from 100% woven cotton. They can be used for prayer, but also act as a piece of homeware, a personal accessory or travel item. We spoke with the designer about finding the middle ground between tradition, religion and style, and how good design could even help remove some of the misconceptions surrounding Islam… Read more.

Interview: Iconic Documentary Photographer Martha Cooper

Premiering at 2019’s Tribeca Film Festival, Sydney-based Selina Miles‘ documentary MARTHA: A Picture Story is a thoughtful, smart and tender portrait of a woman whose influence reaches across the world. Best known for the “graffiti bible” Subway Art and Hip Hop Files, documentary photographer Cooper captured now-iconic images from NYC during the birth of the aforementioned cultures—and, unlike others, was invited in to learn about and photograph the people and scenes. But her work stretches far beyond New York… Read more.

Studio Visit: Yuko Nishikawa

Inside Japan-born Yuko Nishikawa‘s industrial Brooklyn, New York studio, which she’s aptly named “Forest,” there are hundreds of ceramic pieces in varying stages. Some, which are nearly complete, rest on a long wooden table made from scrap materials from other studios within the building. Others, which are set to be fired, painted, tossed or archived, sit on shelves and hang… Read more.

Artist Anicka Yi’s Debut Fragrance Collection, Biography

For multi-disciplinary artist Anicka Yi, a project two-and-a-half years in the making now yields a collection of three fragrances and a consumer-facing olfactory brand called Biography. While it’s a bit of a departure from Yi’s typical work (conceptual pieces that lie at the intersection of scent, experience, and science), the process did not differ all that much. Yi, alongside perfumer Barnabé Fillion, tested samples and balanced personal taste against political statements and science-based decisions with an emphasis on fluidity… Read more.

Interview: Tereza Ruller of The Rodina

Comprised of Tereza and Vit Ruller, The Rodina operates as a design studio but produces art and experiential work that defies expectation. By employing techniques used in performance art, and surrounding themes of play and subversion, their work explores the virtual and physical worlds. Inventive, oftentimes odd and always inspiring, The Rodina challenges and encourages audiences… Read more.

Studio Visit: Digital Artist and Painter Emma Stern

Perhaps surprising for those who have seen artist Emma Stern‘s work online, paint is omnipresent in her Brooklyn studio. It’s on canvases, the worn-in wooden floor, tools and at the feet of furniture. Perhaps less surprising, there are also two computers in the space. A laptop sits open with a digital version of one of her characters blown up in an editing application, while a desktop computer sits at its own station—a red Solo cup full of brushes teeters next to the display… Read more.

Author Caroline de Maigret on Her Poignant, Playful Book, “Older, But Better, But Older”

With How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits, French authors Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas, Anne Berest and Audrey Diwan tapped into the world’s fixation with the beloved French city, its inhabitants, the surrounding stereotypes and underlying truths. The book was an international success—laugh-out-loud funny and wise beyond expectation. Now, de Maigret (a Chanel ambassador, activists and filmmaker) has collaborated with Mas on a new book, Older, But Better, But OlderThrough wit, wonder, experience and observation, the writers weave together stories on the beauty, humor and power of aging. Mischievousness gives way to worldliness, and amusement flowers throughout… Read more.

Writer, Designer, and Branding Expert Debbie Millman

A careful observer of the world of design, Debbie Millman approaches her work as a designer, illustrator, author, teacher, branding consultant and speaker with grace and acumen. She has worked with hundreds of companies and corporations on branding projects that have become exemplary case histories studied all over the world. In 2005, she founded Design Matters, an award-winning podcast for which she has interviewed 500+ designers, artists, creatives, writers and entrepreneurs. Along with Steven Heller, she co-founded the Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Among her many awards, she received an AIGA medal for her contribution to the design industry. Given her impressive accomplishments, it was no surprise to see Millman’s name on the list of speakers at the 25th edition of Design Indaba. After a talk that spanned thousands of years of visual history, we met her to explore some of topics she mentioned on stage… Read more.

Interview: Jerico Mandybur, Author of Neo-Tarot

Writer/editor/speaker/podcast host, Jerico Mandybur is also the editorial director at Girlboss and the author of the brand new Neo Tarot: A Fresh Approach to Self-Care, Healing & Empowerment. The book comes with a deck of tarot cards, and the set offers a unique, contemporary and thoughtful guide to tarot. Accessible for rookies, and useful for seasoned readers, the book and cards supply ways to tap into ancient practice through a contemporary lens—complete with insights, wisdom and exercises that have been crafted to not only heal but also explore the self… Read more

Giorgia Lupi on Joining Pentagram, Data and Finding Inspiration Everywhere

As one of the most respected design studios in the world, Pentagram selects their partners incredibly carefully. There’s no surprise then that somebody as talented as Giorgia Lupi is the company’s first new NYC partner in some seven years. From installations to brand identities, architecture and advertising, Pentagram’s disciplines are vast. Unlike other studios, the owners also create the work—meaning everybody in the company must have both unique and remarkable skills. We spoke with Lupi about the new position and how she hopes to share her perspective and practice… Read more.

Hero image courtesy of Niyya