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A Colorful Life Louise Sandhaus, Kat Catmur

A Colorful Life

Gere Kavanaugh, Designer

Kat Catmur Louise Sandhaus

Details: Hardcover
Size: 7.5 X 10 IN
Pages: 224
Publication Date: 04/02/2019
Rights: World
ISBN: 9781616897628


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.

Editorial Reviews

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.

Architectural Digest

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

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!

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.

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.

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.


Sometimes designers who work between fields on ephemeral-but-memorable exhibitions, store interiors, textiles, and graphics get left out of the histories of big buildings and big ad campaigns. This new book makes sure Kavanaugh's career—and colorful life at home—doesn't suffer such erasure: Between purple-pink-and-orange covers it tells the story of a prodigious Memphis girl who was the third female MFA graduate of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and was promptly hired by General Motors to market its cars and refrigerators to women.