Subscribe: Comments on Soodie Beasley: Women in Design: Nancy Vincent McClelland (1877-19...
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
design  designer  female  interior  job  people  person  plastic surgeon  plastic  soodie  time  woman  women  work  working 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Comments on Soodie Beasley: Women in Design: Nancy Vincent McClelland (1877-19...

Comments on Soodie Beasley: Women in Design: Nancy Vincent McClelland (1877-1959)

Updated: 2014-10-17T19:28:03.626-05:00


Interesting information on Nancy M! Where did you ...


Interesting information on Nancy M! Where did you do your research?

Errant, i sit at my keyboard with nothing to say. ...


Errant, i sit at my keyboard with nothing to say. your comment was so thorough, so seasoned and incredibly thought provoking.

i do think you raised the most important point: this instant celebrity mayhem. i do not understand it and it is causing society to look at those who seem to be simply attention getters over those who have the knowledge, experience and those who can deliver.

Soodie, Wonderful discussion. I have so much I co...



Wonderful discussion. I have so much I could add to the subjugation of women in the workplace, not in interior decorating, but entertainment and media. My own career has been one long tiresome struggle of sexual harassment, overt bullying, punitive and condescending management styles, demands from higher ups to cease asking questions in meetings (that history had demonstrated they couldn't answer), implied threats to my position for independent thought and contrarian opinion, and on and on.

All of what has been said contributes not only to the causes of the problem, but the continuation of it as well. As MV pointed out, a woman can be an advocate or an enemy in a position of power, but rarely impartial. Women as clients, as LA suggested, tend to view female contractors as less worthy than their male counterparts unless the female's reputation precedes her and she travels with an entourage. Otherwise men continue to enjoy the authority and privilege that is automatically and unconsciously bequeathed them. And yes, most certainly, to a sports background as Home recommended.

The decline in how truly authentic and deserved talent is evaluated is not helping the situation, but deteriorating it further. Reality television has assigned "instant celebrity" to the most marginal of abilities and the cult of beauty continues to award the beautifully undeserving. (I so enjoyed MV's account of the plastic surgeon and can so concur with that mentality. Years ago, as a very young woman, I dated a plastic surgeon of the Beverly Hills variety who once told me that it was contingent on his practice and his judgment of aesthetics that he date only the most comeliest of women. It is an attitudinal strain that runs deep).

While I'm ready to declare the ongoing unfairness of it all, I take real heart in last week's DGA (film director's) award going to the first female recipient in its history - Kathryn Bigelow for Hurt Locker. Word had it that her peers jumped up and cheered at the announcement for an honor long denied and tragically overdue. Word also had it that a few of the men in the crowd, being as they sometimes are, were making inappropriate remarks about her glamorous gams. Perhaps one should be encouraged that said remarks were directed toward a woman who is nearly sixty.

oh RD, interesting to note that a renewed interest...


oh RD, interesting to note that a renewed interest in antiques with the social elite was spurred on by an exhibition she contributed towards.
i do hope she is waving a little flag in her grave seeing that -- despite the rather small audience here -- she is being remembered once more.

oh LA, say it isn't so! but yet we see this wi...


oh LA, say it isn't so! but yet we see this with clothing trends, plastic surgery for the ideal body trends, suburban house style trends, etc. and i do think these messages are reinforced through the media. oddly, we have such a variety of ways to receive messages and reinforcing codes of behavior and images of the way things ought to look, you would think people would have enough of the sameness thrown in their faces and run screaming for the hills in search of something different.

Wow, what a riot of comment here. NM has heretofo...


Wow, what a riot of comment here. NM has heretofore been the single greatest authority on Duncan Phyfe, at least there has been no better book on the cabinetmaker than hers. I believe she was instrumental in the Girl Scouts' exhibition in NYC the 1920s that many antiques collectors consider to be the "kick off" to the 20th century's american antiques rush amongst the likes of DuPont, Ford, Webb, Hogg, Garvan, etc. A seminal figure, indeed.

Soodie, I think it is too late, honest I do. It ha...


Soodie, I think it is too late, honest I do. It has happened-the idea of something completely unique to someone is waning- they don't want it-the "perfect decor and design home blog" has destroyed it. what she's got is what they want-down to the dish towels. again,cynical?-Yes.

Magnaverde, one the one hand i wonder if so many o...


Magnaverde, one the one hand i wonder if so many of the second generation women decorators (from 40s, 50s) have been excluded because of increase attention on training. however, at the same time, there was a flush of non-formally-trained male decorators -- their contemporaries -- who were thrust into the spotlight and those names we still remember. this timeframe is where i am speculating so many women's names and their work has gotten lost, over shadowed… women who might have been key to developing design as we know it today.

another great point you mentioned: what does "design" even mean. what is a "designer" and what a terribly misused and misunderstood word. there is a difference between the interior decoration and interior design vocations. designers are professionally trained and qualified through education, experience and examination. a designer is trained and subsequently employs a wide range of skills: program analysis, problem definition, space planning and provides solutions. a designer must have specific technical knowledge of construction, codes, zoning laws and permits, fire regulations, product technology and sources. some states require designers to be licensed. decorators do not need formal training and primarily work with surface materials. (magnaverde, I’m typing this out to make the public aware as I know you’re on board)

a stylist does something very different than a decorator and YES magnaverde, these various jobs must be defined and the public educated. McClelland championed this nearly a century ago and it seems as if we have backpedaled. after reading your comment about the plastic surgeon, i got a little steamed and would have been fearful (if I were in your shoes and if I had let’s say a few glasses of wine) that I might retort ‘oh you’re a plastic surgeon so does that mean you just inject botox into people’s foreheads all day?’

the personal property appraisal world was experiencing something similar for a long while. then the IRS finally set forth rules and regulations defining the difference between an appraiser and a qualified appraiser and what education, training and examinations were required. i am fearing this culture today with all these sham people on BravoTV claiming they are something they are not. it seems to be filtering down. i don’t like it. after all, i am from the 'show me' state. do not pretend to be what you are not.

Tracy, you're not late. i think it is KEY what...


Tracy, you're not late. i think it is KEY what you mentioned and magnaverde illustrated with an example, McClelland worked in a variety of different areas for a long time. and i do think, in some instances, when a person (male or female) cannot let go to let others do their jobs that person becomes awful to work for. as you mentioned, many times this is due to insecurity from lack of training, skills, etc. but the screaming, the blaming, the sabotaging, the BS write-ups. one time i had a heavy 3-ring binder filled with POs thrown at me followed by shrieking over a mistake this person made. then i was told to clean it up -- all the papers that popped out of the notebook strewn about on the desk and floor.... i was pissed on (not literally). and that was IT for me. i was done. i do not know why people feel this type of behavior is remotely acceptable in the work place.

i've totally lost my point now that i brought that up.... oh, i too, do not understand why in the workplace just doing your job and not spilling sordid details about your private life has become unacceptable for some women. another time years ago i was told in a review: 'you come in and do your job and then just leave'. there was a lot of drama going on there at the time and i felt it is always best to put your head down if you're not involved. getting involved would jeopardize the job, i thought, but in fact, points went against me because i refused to conspire.

good god, no wonder i'm finally working for myself!

...continued The good boss was smart & strong...



The good boss was smart & strong & she knew exactly what she wanted & she went out & got it. She was highly competitive--lots of medals & ribbons in horsey stuff going back to her college years--but I never once heard her raise her voice. If anything, she lowered her voice, and when she did that, you sat up & listened. She was the head of a major arts organization, but she knew details of every job in the place. Once she was on a panel at a big management seminar, and in response to a question, she said 'If {Our Organization] were an automaker, I could build a car by now"--and she meant it. She was above no job in the place, sat down in our small lunch room every day--if she wasn't eating with the mayor or hitting up some society figure for a hefty donation--and she ate with whoever happened to be sitting there, whether it was the CFO or the customer service folks or the janitor. Everybody loved her. All she had to do was ask & people would line up to do her bidding. She took our organization from a massive deficit that threatened to sink the place to the biggest profit the place ever had, and she did it without mussing her perfectly groomed hair or cracking a nail. When she announced she was leaving, people--those whom Leona Helmsley would have called "the little people"--broke down & cried.But we didn't have time to mourn.

The woman who followed her, who had been waiting in the wings, was the worst boss of my life, a smart, attractive woman with lots of social connections, lots of designer clothes (all of which turned out to have been donated by Gold Coast ladies to a charity resale shop & skimmed off the top of the pile by the mother of one of her friends who ran the joint) lots of unflattering and borderline-libelous stories about people in positions of power, and, sorry to say, absolutely no idea what she was doing. The frozen expression that came over her face whenever she was asked a direct question about our field without adequate time to first ask her handlers their opinions on the matter always reminded me of Butterfly McQueen's terrified confession in Gone with the Wind. "I don't know nothin' bout birthin' no babies!" She was clueless & people said the only reason she got the job in the first place was that she knew something big about somebody big.

Her main skill was playing one department, one executive against another, and her role models seemed to be Lady Macbeth & Hedda Gabbler: warm & smiling on the outside, seething with repressed rage inside. Except when it wasn't repressed, and you could stand in the public elevator lobby and hear her cursing right through the walls of her office.

The smartest people in the organization left soon after she arrived. The less perceptive stayed around, hoping & waiting for her to calm down as she grew into the job, but the only change they saw came when she fired them the day before Christmas. She wanted no witnesses to her incomptenece. When the dangerous mixture of evil & incompetence finally blew up in her face & she herself got canned, she played the poor victim of the sexist old-boy club that ran the board. Every male boss I ever had, good and bad, fell in between those two extremes.

Another latecomer to the party. A) Yes, after a f...


Another latecomer to the party.

A) Yes, after a few decades where, on one hand, the profesional status of Interior Designers rose steadily in the polular opinion due to constant education of the public by said designers, while, at the same time, the status of the mere Interior Decorator sank lower & lowewr, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the designers to put them down & keep them down, both groups (and even the title Interior Desiuigner) are now in danger of being lumped together with event planners & food stylists under the vague & meaningless umbrella term "Designers".

At a recent social event, I was introduced to a local plastic surgeon, who, as a way to mae polite conversation, asked me a hypothetical & open-ended design-based question about updating the new house she had just bought. She wasn't looking for specifics and I didn't intend to give them away for free, but there were several possible answers to her question, the correct one depending on the kind of house we were talking about. So, rather than ask for a long description of the house, I approached the question from the other end: I ssked if she had a favorite designer, thinking that that might guide my answer a little better. I was thinking of the big names in the kind of magazines you might find in a plastic surgeon's waiting room--John Saladino, Bunny Williams, Miles Redd, that crowd. Then I'd know how to answer. But the individual she named as her favorite designer wasn't an interior designer at all, nor even an interior decorator, but was, rather, basically a party planner. Pretty, pretty, pretty. And certainly, there's nothing wrong with prettiness. But that's all this particular person had to offer.

I wanted to tell her that that person is no more an interior designer than the girl behind the makeup counter at Macy's is a plastic surgeon--I mean, they're both interested in helping you look your best, right? So isn';t it the same thing?--but then I figured why bother? These days, the lines are getting so blurred that the title "interior designer" means just about anything you want it to be.

But enough of that. OK, women as bosses: the best boss I ever had in my life was a woman, and also the worst I've ever had, and unfortunately, in that order, at the same place.


Wow Soodie, I'm glad I got in late on the comm...


Wow Soodie, I'm glad I got in late on the comments... so much to learn from them alone. Ms McClelland seems quite the formidable woman. Love it that she worked in every area of the decorative home arts - advertising, display, retail on both the buying and selling ends, client consultations - before she took on "professionalizing" the industry. It must have been so exciting for her to see her passions become a viable profession.
As for working with men vs women: I have always been a very straightforward person when it comes to business. I'm professional and decisive and I "mean what I say and say what I mean". And no, I'm never a hardass or a bitch, just doing my job. In a pretty dress even. Except for the most egotistical (or insecure), the men I've worked with and for have appreciated those qualites and I've scored some really great assignments as a result. Why is it that women (co-workers and bosses) seem for the most part to not appreciate those same qualites? Is it because I operate drama-free, don't play games, stay out of the gossip loop, etc that I've been subjected to some pretty viscious attempts to undermine me? We (women) talk a lot about not being able to get a fair shake in "a man's world", but I think that's become a pretty lame excuse. As far as I'm concerned, it's everybody's world and I think women are more guilty of keeping women from advancing or being treated equally than men are anymore. Look at all that Ms McClelland achieved and she probably took crap from men and women both! But she wanted it enought to do it anyway.
(whoa, got a little off track and blabbery... but that's what I love about your thought-provoking posts and the conversations they invite!)

LA, thanks for all of your comments. i, too, am se...


LA, thanks for all of your comments. i, too, am seeing what this DYI-ing and posting pretty pics on the internet is doing without truly understanding the reason behind it. this is further pushing the marginalization of women into these expected biological and conjugal roles. i also see what you are talking about hiring a male vs female designer. designing one's home, after all, is personal. and your point: it does seem to be true... we thank a man for suggesting we not wear such a tight skirt which makes our bum look bigger, but when a woman comments... whoa nelly.

are we going back 150 years? (as we are in the health care industry but that is a brewing, bubbling, raging post for later...)

even McClelland when she was addressing Smith College stated that training must be set forth as vast amounts of untrained people were flooding the market because they were told they have 'flair'. that just because one can toss around a few throw pillows does not mean they are a 'decorator'.

Virginia, no, your comment is not off the subject ...


Virginia, no, your comment is not off the subject but very relevant. i did NOT know that about scott brown and will admit my initial reaction was to giggle and want to google to see the pic, as opposed to if he was a female in office posing nude back in '82 my reaction would probably have been: 'oh puleeese' followed by an eye roll.

i just realized that my last sentence on this post was about how McClellan was said to be a 'warm and charming person'. why did i feel the need to type that? she faced challenges and hardships, no doubt, but was i surprised that she stayed warm and didn’t turn into the 80s stereotype of a bii-atch?

Oops, one more thing -- Thank you and your blogge...


Oops, one more thing -- Thank you and your bloggers for being such advocates for many of the forgotten women in design. Most are names I had never heard of and am delighted to learn about.

Home, i've worked years in the publishing indu...


Home, i've worked years in the publishing industry, curatorial departments, graphic and web design departments, in interior design (and of course in the appraisal industry but i'm not touching that). regardless of what type of work, i've found the same dynamics -- passive-aggressive and sabotaging behavior. some of the many strengths women have is the ability to intuit, be inclusive, see the gray areas and explain tasks at hand.

but what i don't understand is we are STILL paid less than men, so why does it seem like women (i’m generalizing here) we work for make us work 40x harder to prove ourselves and challenge us to sacrifice more than what the job calls for? great assimilation with sports. i played team sports (primarily soccer) and you need each and every position involved and interacting with one another to not only provide a defense against the other team, but get that goal. why does this not translate into the work place? we have complained about the ‘old boy network’ keeping us out, but perhaps we need to strengthen our team and help each other out a bit more instead of holding our heads under water.

your last point is really strong. this is the type of dynamic we practiced in high school (as we sneered at the boys thinking they were immature giving one another wedgies), but didn't we learn? these high school boys hired their wedgie victim years later, yet we tend to still hold a grudge.

Soodie, your blog has brought up a lot of wonderfu...


Soodie, your blog has brought up a lot of wonderful comments.

This is a bit off the subject of women designers and working for women vs. men. Here is my two-bits.

2009 brought an all time high for women serving in Congress -- 17 women out of 100 are serving in the Senate. There are 74 women out of 435 representatives serving in the House.

Did your hear about the new senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown? In 1982 he posed nude for the centerfold of Cosmo magazine and won the "America's Sexiest Man" contest. Now, do you think the state you are living in would vote into office a woman that posed even semi-nude as the centerfold of a magazine? Yet, the media barely mentioned it this January.

The double-standard of giving men the power, the credit, and the recognition has changed some, but we still have a long way to go. It's women's attitude on placing this power, credit, and recognition, whether it is in the design world or politics, that is part to blame.

LA, i wish you would... you are addressing some po...


LA, i wish you would... you are addressing some powerful issues here and i think they need to be recognized.

Hating phone interruptions-but must pay the bills ...


Hating phone interruptions-but must pay the bills on occasion. Here is the crux of the problem. Most clients we(women) work with are other women-the "wife" as it were. Women(and this is not ALWAYS the case) typically prefer an attentive engaging man's company when shopping(for anything) That bomb dropped- A male designer can cut to the heart with criticisms(needed or not) that a woman can not. I have seen this practiced time and again. Remember, I have been doing this 27 years. A woman will thank a man for his honesty-while distrusting a woman for the same comments. I have always worked with strong nonwife types-or with couples equally involved together. I have attracted this client-gratefully.But It does take a sort of perfect female to work with the female mind when it comes to designing something as personal as a home.I could go on.

I started in the trenches working with fine furnit...


I started in the trenches working with fine furniture-Kindel( still going along? don't know) and others-Learn a lot, meet a lot of personalities. I was fortunate to have worked at 2 different times 2 prof. ASID women-they were managing-very fair and even. My experience with men in the business- one designer boss and his wife- was more fun stimulating-but dicey too, Can you see the dynamics? there were about 6 female in his stable. more later. pgt

having been a one time member of ASID-I have heard...


having been a one time member of ASID-I have heard of Ms McCllelland. She was quite a force for the garnering of respectability in the profession- applause. She would likely be shocked at the lack of progress made. My encounters with well schooled ASID types is- uggg. ASID has it head up there-as to the mass influx in the business-they are the dinosaurs of today-they just do not know it. No one ever asked about my affiliations. The blogging world has made it possible for anyone to "decorate-descrate". The more pat or formulaic the look of their own homes the more popular the site is- it is the "I can do that at home" syndrome that is killing the Profession. It may be cynical but it is fact. NM's work holds up beauitfully with a few tweakings though-enter a suzani or two on those twin beds & they are ready.
Great post and series xo.

What a lively, informative conversation you've...


What a lively, informative conversation you've started, Soodie. Hope to learn more.

Regarding working for men vs women: I was a feminist—still am—from the git-go. Yet, I too, have been flummoxed by women vs men employers. While not in the interior design profession, the women bosses I have had tried to act more like men rather than using their women-given strengths. And then, there is that passive-agressive stuff that I detest.

As an athlete, you understand competition. You also learned fair play. It's been said that if women played more sports in their youth, they would be better suited for the workplace. Know this is a BIG CAN OF WORMS. I was never a jock, but I was in competitive forensics. I think working your heart out, doing the best you can, leaving it all out there win or lose and start a new day goes a long way to being a better balanced person.

The other aspect that women hurt themselves with is that policing of group behavior that really can't tolerate one person to be a star. Which might be an insight of why some women in the design profession have gone missing: jealousy.

mr. worthington... i was hoping you would stop by....


mr. worthington... i was hoping you would stop by. i knew you would have good information to fill in the gaps.

I too associate Nancy McClelland with historic wa...


I too associate Nancy McClelland with historic wallpapers and recall being shown some of her documentary examples by the late Ronnie Grimaldi
who ran Rose Cumming Ltd. Though not aware of it
at the time, I realize now that most of the designs came from the great French firm Mauny of Paris, which
makes me assume that Nancy M was the conduit for Mauny's line in the USA. It eventually went to Brunschwig & Fils who were licensed, in the early 1980s, to reproduce the Mauny line, a few of which remain to this day.

down east! excellent. as i mentioned to blue i onl...


down east! excellent. as i mentioned to blue i only knew of one of her publications and did not make the connection to what a ground breaking decorator (with her theories) she was. interesting there are not more photographs of her work published. or i'm just not finding them. i need to take some time and flip through issues of 'arts and decoration' from the 20s and 30s...

also, down east, you are safe here to freely speak (though i cannot control anons) i am extremely curious about the gender differences you've encountered in your career. will you please elaborate? i will say -- and i DETEST that i am typing this -- i have had a much easier time in the workforce working for men than a department full of women. with men, i've experienced more promotions, pay increases and been able to complete my tasks without confusion or emotion. and i HATE that this has been my experiences.