Dear gatekeepers Female voices have been silenced throughout the history of design. Now that we can finally be heard, write Vera Sacchetti and Matylda Krzykowski of Foreign Legion, let’s dismantle the industry’s genius myths and insidious power structures
ABOVE A Woman’s Work, a symposium held at the Museum of Applied Arts in Dresden in January 2019
FOR FEMALE DESIGN practitioners in the early 21st century, the opening two decades have brought attention – and, with attention, visibility. This renewed interest in the role of women helps to counter design history’s systematic erasure of their presence. While there is reason to cheer, why stop there? This is an important moment, charged with possibilities to bring about overdue change, with consequences that will benefit not only women, but all those who fight for equality.
As women step into the spotlight, myths and long-standing beliefs within design can be shattered. The lone genius, the heroic creator, the idea (and object) that arrives fully formed – all of these can be challenged and the discipline can finally re-evaluate all its messy complexity, its collaborative nature, and non-linear processes. And in this effort, the design discipline can allow itself to be deeply transformed. This is how the yin revolution – a poetic concept outlined by author Ursula K LeGuin in her series of essays No Time to Spare – starts.
No longer need women strive to navigate the design profession without role models to be inspired by. No longer need women conform to any predefined career orientation, instead designing their paths in whichever way they deem best. And because, in recent years more than ever, women in design can find inspiring examples all around them, the practitioner of today should not have to quiet down their voice, hush away their presence, or hide their influence.
At present, most of our attention should be given to claiming space and agency in design: finding and using our own voices, loud and clear to say things
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