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7 Women Revolutionizing Design & Sustainability

No. 023 Reading Time 4 minutes

Today, signs of the climate crisis are hard to miss.

The world will only become better if the upcoming young generation does better than what we did. There is so much at stake.

Now, more than ever, there is an urgent need for the healing power of design.

For this, we need better role models beyond the star designers.

There is no Planet B.

Here are 7 women using their skills for good and leading the transition to a more sustainable and inclusive world:

1) Anna Heringer

She is the lead architect of her firm based in Laufen, Germany.

A leading voice in sustainable architecture.

She has built many notable buildings.

Our favorite is METI school.

Image credit: Kurt Hörbst

She recently apologised to the global South on behalf of Architects saying

"And I'm deeply sorry that we even colonized the dreams of how a good home is supposed to look like, and that we make you and anyone else in this world believe that imported and industrialized materials are superior to the local, indigenous ones."

Form Follows Love.

Anna Heringer

Her work demonstrates beauty and sustainability. Her projects empower the local communities and use local materials.

2) Neri Oxman

She is an Israeli-American designer and former professor at MIT Media Lab.

She is the founder of the Mediated Matter research group.

She is a true design polyglot.

She coined the phrase "material ecology" to define her work.

Her projects combine design, biology, computing, 3d printing, and materials engineering.

Our favorite has to be the silk pavilions.

She recently launched her company OXMAN.

She believes "the world needs to be redesigned using some of the principles and patterns found in nature. "

“Imagine that nature is the single most important client in the architectural practice.”

Form follows pheromones!

Neri Oxman

Her work tends to marry digital fabrication, computational design, and synthetic biology to produce aesthetic compostable structures and materials.

3) Yasmeen Lari

She felt all big projects were "aiming for the same thing – just to impress everybody".

So she switched to humanitarian work in 2000.

Lari is famous for her "barefoot social architecture."

She won the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for 2023.

Image credits: Guardian

We need to do away with the prevalent colonial mindset and the desire to create imposing megastructures.

Yasmeen Lari

"Architects have a very important role to play and we cannot design just to please our clients anymore or just to please ourselves."

She believes that designers are too lazy to not go beyond concrete and steel.

She wants the architects to change their roles from egoists to activists now.

4) Emma Van Der Leest

Emma is an award-winning biodesigner, researcher, teacher, and author based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Emma is the founder of BlueCity Lab.

Form Follows Organisms.

Emma Van Der Leest

Her projects focus on discovering materials and processes by incorporating living organisms e.g. bacteria, fungi, algae, or cells into the design process.

She believes that “ ultimately the role of the future designer is to explore how nature’s biodesigned materials could become tomorrow’s consumer products.”

5) Salma Samar Damluji

She is an Iraqi British architect, professor, and author.

Salma believes in the power of the local architecture of Yemen and has been working relentlessly to revive it.

Watching Arabian Nights, which was filmed in Shibam, was a turning point in her life.

She worked with the famous Egyptian architect, Hasan Fathy, before establishing the Daw‘an Mud Brick Architecture Foundation in 2007, which is based in Mukalla, Yemen.

She believes she must “ reconstruct anything that gets destroyed, which is part of the culture, memory of the people, country, an area that I have worked in for the past 30 years. “

6) Shagun Singh

She is the founder of the Geeli Mitti Centre of Excellence and the Geeli Mitti Foundation.

That is where we attended our first natural building workshop.

She is our mentor and one of the pioneers of the natural building movement in India.

Image credits: Geeli Mitti

She is a self-taught natural builder and has been driving innovation by making ecological architecture and sustainability products available to all.

She has been involved with the governments helping them to form ecologically sensitive policies.

7) Neha Jain

She is the founder of Zero Circle, which helps conscious brands across industries adopt carbon-neutral materials.

Zero Circle bagged the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize for crafting bio-soluble packaging from seaweed.

Neha, a former journalist and employee at Google realised that “ however hard I tried, effectively reducing one’s carbon footprint would need way more than just individual conscious consumer choices. “

She aims to make a zero-waste lifestyle as easy as instant noodles.

These are the women who inspire us to take tiny steps towards creating a healthier planet and lives for everyone.


Raghav and Ansh

PS: We have been trying to be more active on Linkedin, so if you wish please connect, and follow. However, that works.


“ Less concrete, more earth – we can’t continue to build like we do. Here in Germany, I figured out that the cheapest solution always is the least sustainable, while in Bangladesh the cheapest solution also is the most sustainable.”

Neri Oxman talks with Lex about her philosophy, synthetic biology, plant communication, and engineering with bacteria.

First published in 2007, The Architecture of Yemen was the first book to offer an in-depth investigation into the characteristic architecture of the country and the result of nearly two decades of research.


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