Has gender become trouble for Design?

From the anthropologists and geneticists that questioned the existence of only two genders to the technological utopia of genderless AI, this binary concertina explores the ways in which design experimented with a genderless option.

[The book was also exhibited in the collective’s exhibition ︎Corrrective: Review, React, Reform.]

︎Design Trouble. How to design beyond Gender. A Thesis
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As part of my dissertation, I explored the possibility of a genderless society and the designers that challenged the notion of gender in their practices.

The result was an unfoldable booklet, that starts as a binary, two-page, layout and unfolds to become an 8-meter long spectrum of pages, where the conclusion can only be read if all the spreads are open.

The symbol of the cover was designed by distorting letters from the title’s typeface, to create a harmonic mix of soft curves and pointed edges, stereotypical representations of male and female.

The title Design Trouble wants to be a direct play of words of another famous title in the field of gender studies, Gender Trouble, by Judith Butler.

[Essay excerpts]

“The idea that the subject is not a pre-existing, essential entity and that our identities are constructed, means that it is possible for identities to be reconstructed in ways that challenge and subvert existing power structures.”
(Salih, 2002, p.11)

Even though notions like ‘genderless’ and ‘post-genderism’ are not new to the audience of critical studies, design’s active response to the issue has been sporadic and slow. This essay is a ‘work in progress’ attempt to bring together old and new gender theories and ultimately explore how design - broadly defined as ‘The art or action of conceiving of and producing a plan or drawing of something before it is made’ (English Oxford Living Dictionaries, 2018)- has and can contribute in this societal transformation, not only by challenging it but also, and most importantly, by offering a creative exit to this complex matter. Succeeding, and failing, of course.