Visualising Gender Norms in Design: Meet the Mega Hurricane Mixer and the Drill Dolphia
Karin Ehrnberger, Minna Räsänen, Sara Ilstedt


This article highlights how a gender perspective can be performed by design as critical practice. Two common household appliances – a drill and a hand blender – were used as a starting point. Inspired by Derrida’s term deconstruction, the product language of the tools was analysed and then switched in two new prototypes: the hand blender Mega Hurricane Mixer and the drill Dolphia. The prototypes were shown at exhibitions and lectures. The comments by the audience show that a switching of product language entails that their relationship to the artefact itself also changes. Overall, the elements, which previously had been perceived as ‘lacking transparency’, were now visible. For example, the drill was identified as a “drill for women” and considered inadequate for drilling, and the mixer revealed needs and functions that the traditional mixer did not satisfy. This implies that design should not only be seen as ‘final products’ but as a part of a social process that takes place between the user, the artefact and the norms of society. By switching the product languages it was possible to highlight how gender values are connected to each design and each artefact. This means that the design of the artefacts around us is not fixed, but can be renegotiated and situated in time, place, and context.

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