The designer Gere Kavanaugh is an irrepressible force of nature who epitomized the craft and folk vibe of the '60s and '70s California design scene and remains a larger-than-life personality today. Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Kavanaugh became in 1952 only the third woman to earn a degree in Cranbrook Academy of Art's design program. After successful stints as one of GM's so-called Damsels of Design and as director of interiors for Victor Gruen's architecture and planning firm, she opened Gere Kavanaugh/Designs. There, Kavanaugh put her unique stamp on textiles, furniture, toys, graphics, store and restaurant interiors, holiday decor, housewares, and public art---even designing and curating exhibitions. But perhaps her most enduring project has been the joyful, open-ended, ongoing experiment of her own lifestyle and homes, a dream of color and handcraft. Kavanaugh was awarded the AIGA Medal in 2016, recognizing her "prodigious and polymathic approach to design."

Louise Sandhaus teaches in the graphic design program at California Institute of the Arts and is the author of Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: California and Graphic Design, 1936 -1984.

Kat Catmur is a graphic designer and illustrator. Recent clients include the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, California Institute of the Arts, and the BBC.

Editorial Reviews

 Santa Barbara Magazine:

"In the design world, Gere Kavanaugh looms large. The lavishly illustrated book is a well-deserved tribute to a supremely talented designer whose creative influence will be felt for generations to come."

Frank Gehry:

"Gere Kavanaugh is an inventor and an explorer looking for and making beautiful spaces, objects, and textiles. She is restless and relentless, and I am so proud that her accomplishments are being published for all to study."

Architectural Digest:

"The current climate is an ideal one for a survey of Kavanaugh's wide-ranging repertoire."

Steven Heller, The Daily Heller:

"A Colorful Life is among the most exuberant design books I've seen in years. This one is not to be missed."

Los Angeles Times:

"A Colorful Life: Gere Kavanaugh, Designer, the first monograph on Kavanaugh's life and work, tells her story through a fascinating avalanche of visual material. The book by fellow Southern California designers Louise Sandhaus and Kat Catmur surveys Kavanaugh's seven decades of work, which reveals a dazzling wealth of intuition and talent, plus her elastic ability to distill the present moment like a true marble-walker."

Interior Design:

"Not only has Kavanaugh had, as the authors of this book say, a life in color, she has brought color to everything and everyone around her. Here's to you, Gere!"

Communication Arts:

"Sandhaus and Catmur offer not only an expertly curated archive of Kavanaugh's many talents in A Colorful Life, but also warm, firsthand accounts of the designer from the many people she's impacted with her work. This book is a fitting tribute to the storied body of work that Kavanaugh has built up throughout her lifetime."

book signing events

Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI - November 15, 2019

Join Academy graduate and design icon, Gere Kavanaugh (Design ’52) in conversation with Louise Sandhaus and Kat Catmur, co-authors of the new book, a colorful life: gere kavanaugh, designer.

They’ll discuss the breadth of Kavanaugh’s contributions to design over the last seven decades, in a career that covered everything from flamboyant textiles to unique furniture, playful products, and vibrant interiors. Kavanaugh will also receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Academy of Art in recognition of her career accomplishments.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum - NYC - August 2019

Join Louise Sandhaus, co-author of a colorful life: gere kavanaugh, designer for a lively conversation with design legend Gere Kavanaugh. They’ll discuss the breadth of Kavanaugh’s expansive contributions to design over the last seven decades, in a career that covered everything from flamboyant textiles to unique furniture, playful products, vibrant interiors, and so much more.

Helms Design Center - 2019

A force behind mid-Century California style, a maker and “influencer”, Gere Kavanaugh was somewhat overlooked as a design icon – that is until she won a 2016 AIGA Lifetime Achievement Award.  Since then, the design world as been remembering her work and her vast array of contributions in products, textiles, furniture, toys, exhibition design, restaurant interiors, public art and more. Originally from Tennessee and an original GM ‘Damsel of Design,’ Kavanaugh arrived in Los Angeles in the mid-1960’s where she befriended and shared studio space with Frank Gehry. Along with the move to sunny, bright California came a new sense of color that became her trademark. Her new book, a colorful life: gere kavanaugh, designer, tells Kavanaugh’s stories in the hues of her unique and fascinating personality and style. You can join co-authors Louise Sandhaus and Kat Catmur in conversation with the Los Angeles design fixture.