Bonnie Cashin was an ‘ideas’ person and a self-proclaimed, ‘do-er’. Her ideas were about form, function, and modern living. One of Cashin’s big ideas was what she called, her ‘impossible dream’ which was a fund that she dreamed of establishing to support what she called, ‘real creativity’. A fund that would support the development of ‘true exploration, curiosity, discovery and the talent of creative people’. Cashin documented her impossible dream in her ‘Do Some Day’ book.

Cashin understood, from experience, and declared that industry is a turn-off to the ‘truly creative’. She knew that much like scientists, creatives need funding, time and space to ask questions, do research, theorize, observe, analyze, and make ideas come to life. Her uncle, a geologist and a futurist, was her great mentor. Cashin and her uncle would discuss the world and the future and he stretched her mind. He was a great influence upon her and helped her come to embrace the integration of the sciences and art. Though Cashin was a self-declared artist and had a background in theatre, she was rationalist and like her contemporary American designer counterparts, embraced practicality. She hated ‘buttons and bows’, the Parisian runways, and rejected 7th Avenue. In the 1950s and 1960s, she embraced mid-century modern philosophy and was friendly with mid-century modernists Ray & Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi, George Nelson and others.

In the early 1980’s, Cashin retired from design to focus on achieving some of the big ideas that she wrote down in her ‘Do Some Day’ book and she achieved her impossible dream: she established a foundation for innovative design. Cashin, who shared the same innovative ideology with futurist, Buckminster Fuller, promoted his ideas through her fund.

Funding organizations carry on the legacy of Bonnie Cashin today as some have supported research, scholarship and creativity at institutions such as UCLA, FIT, and University of Cincinnati. Bonnie Cashin’s big ideas and funding organizations that carry on her legacy continue to generously support research, scholarship and creativity at the University of Cincinnati. We are grateful to these organizations for allowing us, through this support, to preserve our collection of Cashin garments at the University of Cincinnati and educate society about history and design through Bonnie’s work and her personal story.