Welcome to the website.

Tammis Keefe was born Margaret Thomas Keefe in 1913. Originally a math major in college, she transferred to the Chouinard Institute of Art, now part of the California Institute of the Arts. As did many Chouinard graduates, Keefe worked for the Disney studios, and later became art director of the influential periodical Arts and Architecture, a publication renowned for innovative layout and graphic design. Next followed a stint in the California studio of textile artist Dorothy Liebes, who mentored many young designers.


Detail, Dishtowel


Detail, Handkerchief

Long before Gloria Vanderbilt and her blue jeans, Keefe became one of the first women to sign her name conspicuously on her work and to achieve name recognition. Lord & Taylor Manhattan even took out a full-page ad in The New York Times for a "Meet the Designer" day to introduce Keefe and a new line of furnishing fabrics. At the time, the major department chains, such as Lord & Taylor and Wanamaker's, were still temple complexes to the gods of mercantilism, with their own home furnishing departments whose buyers had national clout and influence.

Sport ShirtMen's Sport Shirt

Furnishing FabricFurnishing Fabric

A photogenic "girl artist," as one newspaper referred to her, Keefe was featured in many contemporaneous newspaper articles, periodicals and books, some of which will be featured in this website. Long a favorite of textile afficionados, Keefe has been rediscovered in recent years by a wider audience through inclusion in events such as "A Woman's Hand: Designing Textiles in America, 1945-1969," an exhibit of work by women designers at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2000.

Playing Cards

Playing Cards

Silk Scarf

Silk Scarf

Before her death at age forty-six in 1960, Keefe produced approximately four hundred designs for handkerchiefs and at least one hundred for dishtowels, all featuring her trademarks of unexpected color and subtle wit.