in other words

Everything you ever wanted to know about the art market but didn't know who to ask

#67 Designing Motherhood


Guests Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick with host Charlotte Burns. Photo by Matthew Magelof

Art Agency, Partners
#67 Designing Motherhood

This episode answers all of the questions you never knew you had about the objects associated with motherhood, from the unexpected stories behind some of the most ubiquitous designs (did you know that the incubator was inspired by a doctor’s trip to the zoo?) to the histories revealed by these objects: for example, the popularity of the baby blanket tracks with the increased industrialization of birth in America over the past 70 years.

Joining our host Charlotte Burns are Amber Winick and Michelle Millar Fisher, the co-creators of “Designing Motherhood: A Century of Making and Unmaking Babies”, the forthcoming book and exhibition that investigate more than 100 designs that have shaped our understanding of parenthood in America over the past century.

To hear more, tune in today.

Click here for the full transcript

Charlotte Burns: Hello, and welcome to In Other Words, where we cover everything you ever wanted to know about the art world but didn’t know who to ask. I’m your host, Charlotte Burns, and today we’ll be talking about a new project called “Designing Motherhood: A Century of Making and Unmaking Babies”. It was conceived by Michelle Millar Fisher, curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Michelle Millar Fisher: When I think about what design and pregnancy, how they’re meeting right now, I actually think it’s in terms of people being able to help shift legislation

Charlotte Burns: And Amber Winick, a fellow design historian whose writing has appeared in various publications. 

Amber Winick: Yes, they have liberated us so much, but designs like this have also oppressed us.

Charlotte Burns: Before we begin, here’s a quick reminder to subscribe to our In Other Words newsletter at art agency And now, onto today’s show.


Michelle Millar Fisher

architecture and design historian and curator

Michelle Millar Fisher is an architecture and design historian and curator. She is currently The Louis C. Madeira IV Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts and Design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where the next exhibitions she is working on engage design futures, rethink the display of nineteenth century European decorative arts, and engage contemporary art and design production at local and global levels.

Previously, she was a Curatorial Assistant at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, where she co-organized the exhibitions “Design and Violence”, “This Is for Everyone: Design Experiments for the Common Good”, “From the Collection, 1960-1969” and “Items: Is Fashion Modern?”

Amber Winick

writer and design historian

Amber Winick is a writer and design historian. She has an expertise in the way design intersects with the lives of women, children, and families and has researched and written extensively on these topics for places like the Solomon. R. Guggenheim Museum blog, The New York School of Interior Design, The Wolfsonian Museum, The Bard Graduate Center Gallery, and the magazine Disegno.

In 2014–15, she received a Fulbright Research Fellowship in Art and Architectural History in Hungary. A guest researcher at the Iparművészeti Múzeum—the Museum of Applied Arts—in Budapest, she researched twentieth century designs and policies made for Hungarian children and families. These days, she has the pleasure of working with design curator, Michelle Millar Fisher, on the book and exhibition, Showing: Making (and Unmaking) Babies Through Design.

Charlotte Burns

executive editor of In Other Words

Charlotte Burns is the editor of In Other Words, our weekly newsletters and podcasts. She was previously the US news and market editor for The Art Newspaper, as well as a regular correspondent for publications such as the Guardian and Monocle. Previously, she worked with the London dealer Anthony d’Offay on special projects. For several years, she was a consultant at the cultural communications agency, Bolton & Quinn. She also worked at Hauser & Wirth in London.

Burns received a Masters degree (with Merit) from the Courtauld Institute in Art and Cultural Politics in Germany, 1890-1945, as well as a first-class B.A. honors degree in English and History of Art from Birmingham University. She moved to New York in 2010.

The live record

Behind the Scenes with Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick

9 Images

For more on the Designing Motherhood project:

  1. The project’s Instagram, @designingmotherhood
  2. For more on Michelle Millar Fisher
  3. For more on Amber Winick

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