Design and the Gender Revolution

In “His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society,” Suzanne Tick makes a case for the employment of gender-neutral design by modern interior designers. She states that “Identity is no longer clearly defined as female or male, but by increasingly visible manifestations of sexuality or lack thereof.” Being one of the United States’ leading textile designers, she has the background to speak on the issue and the primacy to affect real change in the industry.

Tick describes a new era in the societal perception of gender. She states that “masculine and feminine definitions are being switched and obscured”*, and that individuality in identity are being widely accepted in many realms and institutions. Examples include the now commonplace appearance of androgynity, college students abstaining from identification on gender forms, and middle school students asking for unspecified or nonconforming identification. It is in her view that designers must keep up with the progression of institutions such as education if the field is going to stay relevant and appropriate.

She argues that designers must cleanly break from the modernist school of the twentieth century. She explains how this school is influenced by male thought from both the creative and the user ends. Male designers are creating public spaces that will be ultimately controlled by men. This means that the men who control office spaces and other structures will have their needs addressed while others must conform to the style. As women achieve parity in the workplace and nonconforming identities become commonplace, design must change to reflect the needs of the new demographic. This can be done through the employment of gender-neutral aesthetics. She demonstrates how this is already occurring in fashion, as female clothing takes on a masculine cut and male makeups become acceptable. Examples of its implementation occur elsewhere, such as the furnishing designs of Nika Zupanc and the art of Ernesto Artillo. With regards to interior design, she sees a public desire for the incorporation of nature, open floor plans, and soft texturing of colors and materials.

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