apps, tech + onlineWise Words

10 Designers and Artists Over 60 To Follow and Support

by Erin Austen Abbott

Writing this roundup of incredible designers over 60 was really exciting for a lot of reasons. I wasn’t familiar with most of these people, so finding new (to me) artists to discover and enjoy is always refreshing. I loved seeing the strong aesthetic voices they all have. Social media trends and pressures don’t play into their work, which stands proudly with a clear and refined style, honed over the past few decades.

Writing this piece presented more challenges than I expected, because many artists over 60 aren’t broadcasting their ages or popping up in my social media feeds. But the great thing about our work here at Design*Sponge is that it’s our job to look harder find untold stories and help those voices to be heard.

We’d love to hear from you on how we can make this a space that celebrates creatives of all ages and a resource for those that might just be joining the online design world for the first time. Have a look, and I hope you enjoy what they bring to the conversation as much as I do. —Erin

All photography found via the artists’ sites unless noted. 

Wise Words on Design*Sponge
With a focus in textile arts, New York City based designer Dana Barnes has branched out to include wood, metal, and stone. Each piece that she creates fosters warmth, even when working in stone. You feel a certain connection with the work.
Wise Words with Allan Wexler on Design*Sponge
Architect, fine artist and designer Allan Wexler has been perfecting his crafts for over 45 years, based in New York City. "He explores the fields of architecture and design as an artist. Throughout his 45-year career he has reevaluated our most basic assumptions about our relationship to what we build, why we build, and how it affects our daily lives," from a passage describing his work for a lecture he gave at California College of Art in San Francisco.
Wise Words: Matthew Hilton on Design*Sponge
With a touch of Danish Modern, Matthew Hilton, based in England, says he designs with functionality over style in mind. Well, Mr. Hilton, I do believe you have achieved both.
Wise Words with Erik Magnussen on Design*Sponge
Danish designer Erik Magnussen got his start as a young ceramic artist working for Danish-based manufacturer Bing & Grondahl. From there, he has gone on to design tables, chairs, cutlery, lamps and more.
Wise Words with Nike Davies Okundaye on Design*Sponge
This textile designer turned philanthropist Nike Davies Okundaye is someone over 60 to keep your eyes on and to support. She has helped over 3,000 women to earn a decent wage from their art, which they learned at the Nike Centre for Art and Culture. Nike was taught her art by her great grandmother and grandmother.
Wise Words with J Morgan Puett on Design*Sponge
J Morgan Puett, based in Pennsylvania, is truly skilled in many fields of art and design, including, but not limited to, clothing and furniture design, architecture, fine art, and film -- a powerhouse with no plans to slow down anytime soon. The Big Island Bees Museum is part museum but mostly art installation, by J Morgan Puett.
Wise Words with Cathy Fussell on Design*Sponge
Based in Georgia, Cathy Fussell has been quilting for over 50 years. She tends to hand quilt, with a focus on her literary and Southern roots. In 2016, she was selected to present one of her quilts to Michelle Obama.
Wise Words with Tod Williams and Billie Tsien on Design*Sponge
Duo design team Tod Williams and Billie Tsien are architects by trade, designers by instinct. "We believe that architecture is the coming together of art and use. Our buildings are carefully made from the inside out to be functional in ways that speak to both efficiency and the spirit."
Linda Rodin oozes style and class. From being a fashion icon to running a successful beauty line, she is still figuring it out, proving that you don't have to rush to know what you are doing. Let it happen, follow your gut and you will get there. Photograph by Sasha Israel for In the Company of Women.

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  • Thank you! Thank you! Wonderful work. I think, I hope we are moving to a place where there is less concern about a person’s age and their work is the focus. We all have something to share regardless of age, race, nationality, place, sexuality, etc. I’m so glad that Design Sponge is doing its best to include all voices.
    p.s. _ It would be great if local art/design communities could help the 60+ become media savvy so that there work can reach a larger audience.

    • I don’t know where you come from, Susansa – but wherever I lived in the past 30 years (Switzerland, UK, France) those courses exist and are taken up by many. But then, of course, those who never were interested in keeping up with new technologies won’t be the ones taking up courses with 60+.
      Kind regards from France, Kiki

      • Thanks Kiki! I live in the Catskills, in upstate NY. And work at a senior agency. I would love to read about some the courses you offer there! Your part of the world seems to be more ‘age’ progressive than much of the states. Best to you.

        • Susana

          If I can be of any help, let me know! I’m near the Catskills and am organizing a stationery/activism donation right now online- perhaps we could donate some cards/stationery to your agency to see if any of your clients want to send notes to their elected officials?


  • Praise Be! As an over 60’s woman I get a little jaded seeing all the slender, pretty young things, and no re-presentation of women older than 40. Good work.

  • So refreshing thank you. Age diversity doesn’t seem to get much play. Just checked out Linda Rodin’s insta – live it! Thanks

  • Delighted to see these established designers featured! While I believe it’s great to highlight up-and-coming artists (to help them get established, and recognize new talents and perspectives), I also appreciate seeing work of more experienced designers, to get a sense of how an artist’s work can evolve and mature. I need people to look to for guidance as I grow into my own career!

    • Yes! This! I think there is a rich and grounded perspective to be gained from seeing people who have been designing and creating over a longer period that is simultaneously refreshing and inspiring.

  • Erin, what a magnificent article this is – Praise and BRAVO to those wonderful women and men, their expertise and art, their visions and the endurance they show.
    Especially your featured Nike blew me away – she looks nowhere old enough to have made it on your list and her charisma radiated right from the inbox to my heart. I love the furniture and quilts; no scrap that – I love everything about this article and its ‘heroes’. In these difficult times we need all the courage we can get, even 2nd hand…. :)

  • Thank you for doing this article. Age seems to be such a sticky issue in social media. DS was genously shared our artwork and home, I’m Woodlucker and we are in our mid-50’s. We are out there creating with passion and highlighting our age group give me hope older creatives are not over looked.

  • As someone in their 30’s, I crave to see the work of designers, especially women, who are in their 40’s and higher. It becomes a daunting task to start a creatively-based business after caring for your children, getting them started in school, only to find you might have become irrelevant merely due to your age. This article is food for the soul!! Thank you, thank you!

  • Bravo! I’m not quite of that generation, but at 46, not too far off, either. As a fine artist and graphic designer, I think it is a mistake to discount someone because of age. If nothing else, someone who’s been around the block a few more times has a different perspective, and more experience, skill, and knowledge!

  • Thank you so much for this post! I am a surface designer reaching this hallowed age and am so thrilled to see others of my ‘era’ featured here. As I reinvent myself for what seems like the 20th time I do worry that my age might be an issue going forward but hey Vivienne Westwood is 75 and still going strong. Love and agree also with what most others have commented here. Bravo all!

    • Thank you so much for featuring artists from the boomer generation! So appreciate this. Would love to read more stories like this here.

  • Bravo to you for writing this article. Good work, good art, and good ideas come from everywhere, especially from those who have seen more, done more, lived more? They are and should be the wise inspiration for the young.

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