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Jane Thompson AICP (2015)

Jane Thompson AICP
Principal, Thompson Design Group
Women in Design Award of Excellence, 2015 winner

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Jane Thompson called herself an “architect without portfolio”—a nod to her lack of formal training in the profession. Yet as a designer and urban planner, an editor and a writer with a sharp eye and precise thinking, she helped transform urban shopping through the Faneuil Hall revitalization 40 years ago and in like-minded reinvigorations across the country.

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A connoisseur of beauty and elegance in the commonplace, Mrs. Thompson saw the importance of tiny details many grand visionaries might overlook. “Can openers, candlesticks, bedsheets—if they’re well made, they should be displayed,” she once said. She was particularly proud of her research on the Bauhaus and particularly the Vorkurs (first year course) which she wrote about.

Design Research Headquarters Building at Harvard University

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In her late-20s, Mrs. Thompson was a founding co-editor of the magazine Industrial Design, later known as I.D., and she joined Ben Thompson’s Boston architectural practice in the 1960s. They married and went on to collaborate on festival marketplaces, the Harvest restaurant in Harvard Square, and the iconic retail store Design Research, or D/R, on Brattle Street in Cambridge with its all-glass exterior. She was close with Armi Ratia, the founder of Finnish company Marimekko. She wore their clothes almost every day, and championed their fabrics in the US.

Sample Marimekko pattern

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In 2000, she and Ben Thompson were both knighted by the Finnish President, making her the only person to be both a knight and the wife of a knight earning her the unique title, “Sir Lady Jane.”

Boston's iconic Faneuil Hall