Design Patriarchy, by Maya Ober

Milan Design Week – the yearly summit of the Design World seems like a perfect occasion to inaugurate depatriarchise design.

This platform is a space to examine the condition of contemporary design through an intersectional feminist perspective. The feminist voice is nearly unheard within the field and has been systematically silenced and marginalised. The imbalanced power relation between the genders in the industry,  strongly encouraged by the main stakeholders, created a distorted reality in which the chauvinist, heteronormative, ego-tripped, predominately white, male “star designer” model had been successfully introduced and has been maintained ever since.

This is Design Patriarchy.

It includes a clear, meticulously planned mechanism that evokes male dominance over women, by creating a structure in which males hold power and privilege to control the industry and to maintain the patriarchal structure intact through the products they design. Women are dually oppressed, first as professional designers, they are being almost completely excluded from the field, secondly as consumers – women are regularly oppressed by the products of the industry that protect of traditional patriarchal social structures, ignore female needs and celebrate “macho”.

Male Star Sesigners have been ruling for decades, governing the field as if they were sovereigns and women were at best their lieges, and most of the time their existence would not even be noticed. Together with their allies – Star Brands they managed to put the crystal ceiling so low, that female designers have to constantly crawl. With help of Star Bloggers, Star Journalists, and Star Curators this finely oiled, predatory machine perpetuates patriarchy.

I decided to start this platform not only to provide a needed theoretical analysis of  Design Patriarchy, but more importantly to kindle it. The need of action is urgent, therefore I will share and discuss here the examples of Design Patriarchy and systematic oppression of women throughout the design field. Companies, blogs, magazines, curators, products, museums, galleries, schools, institutions, designers etc. which help to sustain unequal power relations that give men privileges within the design field, while leave women systematically disadvantaged will be hold accountable.

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