Margaret E. Page, City's First Woman Designer
Furniture designer, Margaret E. Page, made a success in a field that very few women had entered in 1916. Of the furniture designers in the city at that time Miss Page was the first and only woman in that profession. Possessing natural ability, beside having studied drawing since she was nine years old, Miss Page decided upon some phase of art work as a vocation, and finally chose furniture designing, competing with some of the cleverest men in the country who were engaged in that work in Grand Rapids.
Miss Page did all her preparatory work in this city. Starting as an apprentice with Otto Jiranek, a local freelance commercial designer, located in the Ashton Building, she remained in his employ eight years, mastering all the details of the work, even to the making of the working drawings and blue prints. While doing practical work in the daytime she devoted most of her spare moments to study. Attending Mathias Alten’s drawing classes she made contacts with furniture designers. Taking a course in mechanical drafting, rod-making, and construction work at Riccardo Iamucci’s school on Pearl St., she mastered the mechanical as well as the art side of her work. Dissatisfied with the pace of her progress, she accepted a position with John D. Raab, designer and manufacturer, who eventually encouraged her to start on her own.
Around 1912 she opened an office and studio of her own and built up a successful business. Included in the list of factories in various parts of the country for which Miss Page designed were several that manufactured the highest type of period furniture. Calling personally at the various factories for which she designed, kept her in touch with the various methods of construction, finish and the like. Miss Page was her own business manager and the substantial business that she built up was a credit to her executive and artistic ability.
During a course in Decorative Design she attended at the Chicago Art Institute, sometime before 1916, she met A. George Seagren, a furniture designer skilled in architectural modeling and hand carving. By 1916 Seagren had joined Page as a partner in Grand Rapids in the freelance business. They married in 1918. Three years later Seagren died suddenly from appendicitis. From that time on Margaret Page Seagren tended to her designing business, maintaining an office in Grand Rapids until 1932, when she located in Lenoir, N.C.
Margaret’s philosophy was that effort is always rewarded, sooner of later. She had a daughter, talented in drawing, who was being trained to follow in her mother’s vocational footsteps.
Miss Page believed that furniture designing afforded an excellent opportunity for women.
“Since it is generally conceded,” she said, “that ninety per cent of the furniture retailed is selected by women, their enlightenment on this subject would greatly improve further conditions.
Grand Rapids Press, July 17, 1914, page 5
Grand Rapids Herald, January 16, 1916, page 8
Fine Furniture, “Women in Furniture”, November 1936, page 20