Designing Motherhood: Things that Make and Break Our Births
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By Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick
While birth often brings great joy, making babies is a knotty enterprise. The designed objects that surround us when it comes to menstruation, birth control, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood vary as oddly, messily, and dramatically as the stereotypes suggest. This smart, image-rich, fashion-forward, and design-driven book explores more than eighty designs—iconic, conceptual, archaic, titillating, emotionally charged, or just plain strange—that have defined the relationships between people and babies during the past century.
Each object tells a story. In striking images and engaging text, Designing Motherhood unfolds the compelling design histories and real-world uses of the objects that shape our reproductive experiences. The authors investigate the baby carrier, from the Snugli to BabyBjörn, and the (re)discovery of the varied traditions of baby wearing; the tie-waist skirt, famously worn by a pregnant Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy, and essential for camouflaging and slowly normalizing a public pregnancy; the home pregnancy kit, and its threat to the authority of male gynecologists; and more. Memorable images—including historical ads, found photos, and drawings—illustrate the crucial role design and material culture plays throughout the arc of human reproduction.
The book features a prologue by Erica Chidi and a foreword by Alexandra Lange.
Contributors: Luz Argueta-Vogel, Zara Arshad, Nefertiti Austin, Juliana Rowen Barton, Lindsey Beal, Thomas Beatie, Caitlin Beach, Maricela Becerra, Joan E. Biren, Megan Brandow-Faller, Khiara M. Bridges, Heather DeWolf Bowser, Sophie Cavoulacos, Meegan Daigler, Anna Dhody, Christine Dodson, Henrike Dreier, Adam Dubrowski, Michelle Millar Fisher, Claire Dion Fletcher, Tekara Gainey, Lucy Gallun, Angela Garbes, Judy S. Gelles, Shoshana Batya Greenwald, Robert D. Hicks, Porsche Holland, Andrea Homer-Macdonald, Alexis Hope, Malika Kashyap, Karen Kleiman, Natalie Lira, Devorah L Marrus, Jessica Martucci, Sascha Mayer, Betsy Joslyn Mitchell, Ginger Mitchell, Mark Mitchell, Aidan O'Connor, Lauren Downing Peters, Nicole Pihema, Alice Rawsthorn, Helen Barchilon Redman, Airyka Rockefeller, Julie Rodelli, Raphaela Rosella, Loretta J. Ross, Ofelia Pérez Ruiz, Hannah Ryan, Karin Satrom, Tae Smith, Orkan Telhan, Stephanie Tillman, Sandra Oyarzo Torres, Malika Verma, Erin Weisbart, Deb Willis, Carmen Winant, Brendan Winick, Flaura Koplin Winston.
Edited by Kathleen Krattenmaker
Designed by Clanada (Lana Cavar and Natasha Chandani)
Published by MIT Press, 2021
Winner of 2021 AIGA 50 Books | 50 Covers
Hardcover, 344 pages, 125 color images, 7 × 10 inches