GENDER-SENSITIVE! DESIGN FOR SPACES, PRODUCTS and DEBATES
New Design University (NDU) St. Pölten
This year, VIENNA DESIGN WEEK exhibited a range of design positions from young students in its Expositur SOLARIUM. As part of this format, two courses from the New Design University St. Pölten (NDU) – the bachelor's course Manual & Material Culture and the master's course Interior Design & Visual Communication – displayed products and concepts related to the issue of gender. During the festival, the spaces of the former solarium were filled with not only a large number of exhibits, but also the designers themselves, who were keen to share with the visitors the know-how and experiences that they had gained during their investigation of gender-sensitive design. The exhibition was notable for the wide range of answers that it provided to questions about the relationship between the designed environment and our notions of gender roles. The students prepared strategies for developing gender-neutral and gender-specific products and for questioning the established “norms” in the design of everyday objects. In addition to this, a series of debates – about such subjects as body images and unequal pay – were triggered and investigated in the designs. The objects that could be marveled at included gentlemen's engagement rings and body masks, reflecting objects that alter our sense of perception, modular bathroom furniture, organically enhanced tools, and physical luminous objects.