A bench for breastfeeding in public spaces, a hijab for high performance sport, a prostate-relief bicycle seat, a swanky puffer and a smouldering femme-fatale, boys prefer blue and girls love pink? What does gender have to do with design?
Gender Design focuses the socio-culturally defined concept of ‘gender’ at the centre of the discussion about professional design – in education, training and career, as well as in everyday life. What does it mean to design in a gender-specific, gender-sensitive or, indeed, gender-blind way? This much is certain: there is no such thing as a neutral product.
Reflecting on gender in design provides diverse and critical answers to a question that is still unresolved: how do we want to live? A question that was already highly topical at the Bauhaus and at the former HfG Ulm. ’Good form’ and post-war functionalism were the answers back then. However, times are changing and with these changes come new role concepts, new job profiles, new target groups and new design principles and solutions.
Design ‘for all’: what does that mean today? Now more than ever, it’s time for a comprehensive exhibition that links this question to both the category of gender – a category that affects each of us personally – and to the things that surround us. Presenting critical, playful, innovative and provocative solutions from applied design research and introducing both historical and contemporary positions, the exhibition Not my Thing – Gender in Design encourages the viewer to actively engage with this topic.
In 2018, the HfG Archive Ulm organised the first Designer-in-Residence programme with a focus on Gender Design. During her three-month stay, Canadian architect Olivia Daigneault Deschênes (born 1993) lived and worked on the HfG campus.
Further projects were carried out in collaboration with the Aicher-Scholl-Kolleg (vh ulm) and with Realschule (secondary school) Dornstadt. Together with exhibits from the 1950s and ‘60s, which are juxtaposed with contemporary positions from the worlds of design and everyday life, the results from these projects provide a multi-facetted tour to reflect on gender in design.
There will also be a temporary exhibition at the die PUTTE project space featuring photographic pieces by Juliane Peil: her excursions into the urban spaces of the twin cities of Ulm and Neu-Ulm provide perspectives on the relation of ‘Gender – Space – Architecture’.