Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, IDSA
Founder | Interwoven Design
Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman is an expert in human interaction, wearable products and smart textiles. With a background in performance apparel and product design, she is a pioneering researcher in design methodologies and smart materials and is Professor of Industrial Design at Pratt Institute. Her work and the work she does with her students focuses on products worn on the body, and the dialogue between her practice and the classroom is her inspiration.
Rebeccah brings over 20 years of corporate designing experience in performance athletic apparel, soft goods and consumer product design and has held positions as Design Director for Fila, Champion and Nike. She is founder of Interwoven Design, an innovative product design and development studio based in Brooklyn, NY specializing in soft goods, wearable technology and apparel innovation. Interwoven is the bridge between fashion, engineering, material science and product design and has done work for companies including the Miami Dolphins, Brooklyn Ballet, HeroWear, Kontoor, VF, UTC Aerospace Systems, and Vanderbilt University’s Biomechanics & Assistive Technology Laboratory. She has developed a number of projects working with NASA, both with students and professionally, including participation in the Mars Centennial Challenge where she is a founding member of SEArch+, the winning team with the Mars X-house. She was named one of IDSA’s 20/20 for both her work promoting diversity in design and Interwoven’s design work on the APEX exosuit, which was recognized with a SPARK Platinum Design Award.
She is the author of Smart Textiles for Designers: Inventing the Future of Fabrics, has published many articles and speaks internationally on design, innovation and the future.
Statement of Candidacy (Women in Design Committee - Northeast | 2022-2023 term)
For over 25 years, I have been a part of the Industrial Design community, both as an educator and as a practitioner. I started teaching to give back. My design career has been very good to me, and I wanted to share what I learned “the hard way” to help young designers get ahead and find happiness in their work. As a practitioner, I use all my design and problem-solving skills to serve my clients and to best address the needs of their customers. Whether they are a start-up or a large corporation, I often find myself the “only” in the room—the only creative, the only entrepreneur and the only woman.
Over the years, I noticed an absence that can’t be easily explained. In my classroom, women make up the majority of our students; women are studying design and doing it with incredible drive, creativity, and dedication—so where are all the female creative leaders? In design today, women and men exist in the same institution and businesses, and they emerge from the same educational systems, yet there is a disconnect with reality. I seek to better understand why this is such a challenge, so that the IDSA women in the design community can smash the status quo apart and create some real and tangible change. It is time for women in design to move the needle and the energized collective of IDSA can play a significant role in supporting women to dive in feet first to make their career dreams come true.