In her article “His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society,” Suzanne Tick argues that interior designers and architects should set out to create non-gendered spaces that will better accommodate the evolution of traditional gender roles and identities that is happening in today’s society. Tick uses the gender shift in today’s workplace, the ever-evolving definitions of “male” and “female,” and the nationwide focus on bathrooms to support her claim that interior designers need to embrace the gender revolution and work with it.
As traditional gender roles are evolving to fit the advances of today’s society, designers should use their spaces to promote change.While a new wave of feminism has begun to break down hierarchy in the workplace, Tick argues that today’s office landscape “is still deeply rooted in Modernism.” Modernism is design style shaped solely by male necessity. Even in today’s society, as women become more prominent in positions of power, the design of most workplaces specifically cater the needs of men. Tick believes that it is time for interior designers to change this. Instead of creating spaces that only accommodate one group of people or a specific gender, designers should join the gender revolution and begin to incorporate gender sensitivity into their work.
As androgyny becomes today’s norm, the traditional definitions of masculine are feminine are changing. The fashion and beauty industries are the first to fully accept this phenomenon. Fashion designers such as Alexander Wang have even begun to create gender neutral pieces, and makeup lines like Annemiek van der Beek’s Primal Skin are being designed to attract male buyers. Tick states that the processes of architecture and interior design are much slower than those of fashion and beauty. If designers do not take it upon themselves, Tick believes that the opportunity to create accommodating spaces for all, will be missed. What was assumed about gender is changing as individuals begin to identify themselves regardless of their assigned sex at birth. Students have started not specifying their gender on forms and others are asking to have their gender unspecified. Schools are even accepting this, which is huge. Tick argues that designers cannot fall behind the gender revolution, and instead should embrace it by creating spaces that promote acceptance and change.
Due to the evolution of gender identity, bathrooms have become the focus of change, and have created controversy across the country. In order to accommodate all individuals, large corporations like Google have created gender neutral and unisex bathrooms in their offices. This movement is providing individuals the choice to not choose a gender while at work. Tick realizes that bathrooms, while “only part of the puzzle in addressing gender inclusivity in the office,” are spaces that are sensitive to personal issues. Tick believes that designers can help address these new and sometimes uncomfortable situations revolving space. Gender neutral bathrooms are vastly different from the gendered restrooms we are all used to, but making everyone feel accommodated is what is important. Tick pushes designers to think of ways to address the bathroom situation by stressing the importance of creating an office landscape where everyone is safe and comfortable. Offices are places “where everyone is expected to collaborate closely,” so they need to be accommodating to all. Instead of waiting for gender neutrality to become a regulation, Tick pushes interior designers and architects to get ahead of the movement and to begin creating gender neutral spaces today.
Tick, Suzanne. “His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society.” Metropolis Magazine, http://www.metropolismag.com/March-2015/His-or-Hers-Designing-for-a-Post-Gender-Society/.