In Woman as Design, Stephen Bayley discusses how the female body works as a sign, a symbol…as a designed object. Both provocative and beguiling, Woman as Design is an eclectic mix of design, cultural history, erotica, fashion, fetishism and observation.

In Part One: Before, Behind, Between, Above and Below, Stephen Bayley takes us from Aphrodite to the Delta of Venus and then to the industrialisation of the breast (in bra form) and sexual identity. He questions what strange mixture of evolution, social competition, cultural modelling and (predominantly male) desire made the substance and the style of women. In Part Two he examines pin-ups, stereotypes, cosmetics, hemlines and heels and looks in detail at how design has appropriated the feminine form.

He illustrates how we see, display, dress, decorate and distort women – including how shoes and clothes form our impression of womanly ideal and how different ages and different cultures developed different womanly ideals. Wonderfully designed and superbly illustrated, Woman as Design is a compulsively attractive book and a modern study of the continuous conflict between the real and the ideal…in its most familiar form.



Stephen Bayley is an author, critic, columnist, consultant, broadcaster, debater and curator. His best-selling books and award-winning journalism have, over the past thirty years, changed the way the world thinks about design. With Terence Conran he created the influential Boilerhouse Project in the Victoria & Albert Museum. This became London’s most successful exhibition space during the eighties and evolved into the influential Design Museum which Mrs Thatcher opened in 1989.

He is also a consultant working with designers, architects, consumer goods and manufacturing businesses at the highest level. These include Ford, Coca-Cola, BMW and Conran. Stephen was formally educated at Manchester University and Liverpool University School of Architecture. Informally, by the motorways, restaurants, cafes, bars and museums of mainland Europe. He is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, a Honorary Fellow of the RIBA, a Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales and a Fellow of Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.

His books include In Good Shape (1979), The Albert Memorial (1981), Harley Earl and The Dream Machine (1983), The Conran Directory of Design (1985), Sex Drink and Fast Cars (1986), Commerce and Culture (1989), Taste (1991), Labour Camp (1998), General Knowledge (2000), Sex : a cultural history (2000), A Dictionary of Idiocy (2003), Life’s a Pitch (2007), Design : intelligence made visible (2007), Cars (2008), Woman as Design (2009), Liverpool: shaping the city (2010), La Dolce Vita (2011) and Ugly: The Aesthetics Of Everything (2012).

He writes for a huge range of national and international consumer, trade and professional publications including: The Independent, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Sud Deutsches Zeitung, GQ, Conde Nast Traveller, Vanity Fair, Car, Red Bulletin, The Official Ferrari Magazine, The Financial Times, The Lady and Octane. He is a contributing editor of GQ and Management Today.

Stephen has lectured in universities and museums and argued, usually successfully, in debates everywhere in Britain. Additionally, he has lectured, talked and debated in: Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam, Delft, Bucharest, Milan, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Nagoya, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.