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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

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Dec 21, 2021

When it comes to human reproduction, particularly from a Western perspective, there’s no shortage of physical things involved. Pregnancy tests. Maternity clothing. Pacifiers. Baby carriers. Reproduction and parenting involve a plethora of objects, each designed with a purpose in mind and each contributing to the reproductive experience, for better or for worse.

Historians and authors Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick explored the stuff of reproduction in their new book, Designing Motherhood: Things that Make and Break Our Births. Their highly visual, design-driven book explores over 80 objects that have shaped the world of people and babies during the past century, revealing designs that range from iconic to just plain strange. Together, Fisher and Winick considered how design impacted everything from the clothing that pregnant people wear to how the home pregnancy test was once a “threat” to male gynecologists—and beyond.

Michelle Millar Fisher, a curator and architecture and design historian, is Ronald C. and Anita L. Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She lectures frequently on design, people, and the politics of things.

Amber Winick is a writer, design historian, and recipient of two Fulbright Awards. She has lived, researched, and written about family and child-related designs, policies, and practices around the world.

Zoë Greggs is a queer, Black, disabled Philadelphia-based artist and nonprofit administrator who serves as the Community Outreach Coordinator at Maternity Care Coalition (MCC). Greggs is also the Curatorial Assistant for Designing Motherhood, where she brings her expertise of community engagement, project management, and art history. 

Buy the Book: Designing Motherhood: Things that Make and Break Our Births (Hardcover) from Third Place Books 

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