Gere Kavanaugh American textile, industrial & interior designer

Gere Kavanaugh Textile
Gere Kavanaugh Textile

Gere Kavanaugh (born 1929) is a textile, industrial, and interior designer from the United States. She is the principal of Gere Kavanaugh Designs.

Early Years & Education

Gere Kavanaugh grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and was born in 1929. She graduated from the Memphis Academy of Art with a BFA. She was the third woman to acquire an MFA at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan.


Kavanaugh worked for General Motors as a stylist, primarily designing exhibitions to demonstrate autos and creating displays, model kitchens, and interiors. She was one of the company’s first female designers, called the “Damsels of Design” by design director Harley Earl. Her GM design team was credited with designing the set for the 1958 Feminine auto show. She made three cages filled with live canaries who sang when the lights were turned on, as well as a centrepiece in the middle that resembled a dress, out of net-like material. With rainbow reflections on the floor, coloured cellophane beneath the cages’ floors added to the dream-like ambience. Chiffon panels and white hyacinths completed the look.

Kavanaugh emphasised the value of diversity and the relationship between form and function. She left GM in 1960 to work for architect Victor Gruen, renowned as the “Father of the Shopping Mall,” in his Detroit office. She was in charge of designing the interiors of retail stores and shopping malls throughout the country. Later, the firm relocated to Los Angeles, where she met Frank Gehry. She later created Gere Kavanaugh/Designs (GK/D) in 1964, sharing studio space with Gehry, Don Chadwick, and Deborah Sussman.

Multi-talented Designer

Kavanaugh has designed ceramics, light fixtures, residences, retail interiors, textiles, town clocks, and furniture during his career. She designed the “California umbrella” with furniture business Terra in the 1970s. In the absence of a patent, she established an alumni product archive at Cranbrook, where alumni could give work that corporations could replicate and directly pay royalties to the school.

She was the first interior designer to get a COLA grant from the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of Los Angeles. The exhibit 1945-1980 included her work. For the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Kavanaugh developed a research room and typeface.


In 2014, she received the Julia Morgan Icon Award at the Los Angeles Design Festival.

In 2016, she was also awarded the AIGA Medal by the American Institute of Graphic Arts.


Wikipedia contributors. (2020, November 30). Gere Kavanaugh. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:20, November 3, 2021, from

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