The Design Observer Group


Posted 05.13.12


The Editors

Our Mothers, Our Selves



Mother, the original multitasker: and she raiseth a designer!

Between cooking and cleaning and chauffeuring and chaperoning, a mother's work is indeed never done. While their primary role is to nourish us, they are also capable of embarassing us, nudging with irrelevant, unsolicited advice — but is it not every parent's prerogative to offer unsolicited advice? (Then again, is it possible to watch My Mom's on Facebook and not cringe for every sweater-wearing mother who ever overshared?) Today of all days, let us forgive them their flaws and their malapropisms and their fashion faux-pas and remember that their hearts, if not their tweets, are in the right place. "Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world," wrote James Joyce, "a mother's love is not." And we agree. Herewith, a Happy Mother's Day to you all.

Now, go call your Mother.

Tina Roth Eisenberg with her mother, Trudi Roth, January 1975

Nancy Levinson with her mother, Sally Levinson, on Cape Cod, about 1961


Allison Arieff with her mother, Carol, 1966


Julie Lasky with her mother, Ruth Lasky, about 1961


Alexander Isley with his mother, Jane Isley, 1965

Mother's Day
Adam Harrison Levy with his mother, Lorain Levy, April, 1967

Mother's Day
Nancy Sharon Collins with her mother, Charlotte Kaufman Feldman, about 1956

Mother's Day
Keira Alexandra with her mother, Alexandra Ossipoff, circa 1969

Mother's Day
Peter Mendelsund with his mother, Judy Mendelsund circa 1971

William Drenttel and his mother, Shirley, circa 1960

Mother's Day
Carol (Darlow) Wahler with her mother, Dorothy Darlow, June 1946

Mother's Day
Betsy Vardell and her mother, Guyla Vardell, 1972

Sean Adams and his mother Sylvia, 1966

Mother's Day
Andrew Sloat, his sister Elizabeth Sloat, and their mother, Caroline Sloat, 1978.

Allan Chochinov and his mother, Ethel, 1962


Mark Lamster with his mother, Jane, 1972


Eric Baker with his mother, Anne, about 1952

Nancy Skolos and her mother, Marge (and Cleo) circa 1965


Antonio Alcalá with his mother, Ruth, Thanksgiving, 1969

Mother's Day
Teddy Blanks with his mother, Cindy Hudgins Blanks, 2011


Nancy Essex with her mother, Jeanne and family (Nancy is second from right, bottom), 1965


Alexandra Lange with her mother, Martha Scotford and grandmother, Anne Scotford, 1977

Mother's Day
Derry Noyes with her mother, Molly Noyes, and her father, Eliot Noyes, about 1956

Mother's Day
Kali Nikitas and her mother, Catherine Louise, circa 1965

Seymour Chwast and his mother Esther, Bronx, NY 1932


Stefan G. Bucher with his mother Jutta, about 1978


"Here is picture of my mom, Anne Marie Campbell Bierut from her days as a freelance product model, about 1955" writes Michael Bierut. "Just pretend that I'm a Western Union Intrafax!"

Mother's Day
Karin Fong and her mother, Sylvia Leong, 1972

Nathalie Destandeau and her mother, 1962

Dori Tunstall with her "adapted" mother, Aunt Jill, circa 1974

John Foster and his mother, Nell Foster and twin sister, Nancy, 1952.


Carl W. Smth with his mother and sister (both named Barbara), Honolulu, 1968

Tom Wedell and his mother, Mildred, 1949


Gaby Brink and her mother, Rosemarie, 1971


"The only early picture I have of me with my mother is one in which she does not appear," writes Ralph Caplan, pictured here in an undated photo. "I am on a pony and she crouches behind, invisibly demonstrating that I am brave enough to sit on a steed without an adult holding the reins."


Jessica Helfand and her mother, Audrey, early 1960s


Ashwini Deshpande with her mother and father, Sunetra and Shankar Oak, and older sister Rajani, 1969


Marian Bantjes with her mother June, early 1990s


Oded Ezer with his mother Lily Ezer, about 1978


Laurie Rosenwald's father, Robert Rosenwald, was a sculptor: above, an alabaster sculpture that he made of his wife, Ruth, holding Laurie as an infant, about 1955

Debbie Millman and her mother, Roberta, Howard Beach, Queens, about 1966


Erik Spiekermann with his Mother, Barbara, and family in Northern Germany, summer, 1951


"How about other designers with your parents," asked Gail Anderson when she received our prompt. "One of my students came to Thanksgiving dinner last year, and I couldn't resist taking a picture of him with my parents (85 and 89). His name is Zipeng Zhu and my parents were totally baffled when he took off his shoes at the door."