Student Book: Michelle Millar Fisher

Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick
Designing Motherhood: Things that Make and Break Our Births
(MIT Press, 2021)

image of book: designing motherhoodWhile 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 BabyBj√∂rn, 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.  

Millar Fisher is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Purchase this book.

Submitted on: AUG 9, 2021

Category: Art History | Student News