• Objectified Interior: Gendered, non-gendered, re-gendered tools for spatial production

Harriss, Harriet, 2016, Conference or Workshop, Objectified Interior: Gendered, non-gendered, re-gendered tools for spatial production at Architectures and Feminisms, Stockholm, 17-19 November 2016.

Abstract or Description:

The perennial question, can design be genderless has become increasingly complicated by our fluid, contingent, nuanced and transient gender identities. Most commonly, our collective focus is on the possible gender of spatial outcomes, rather than the processes themselves: upon the genders we attribute to interiors and exteriors, and not upon the role that the objects or indeed tools of spatial production play in shaping gendered outcomes. This paper therefore seeks to consider to what extent our processes are gendered, how this impacts upon space and whether there are ways in which the tools of spatial production can be un-gendered, re-gendered or non-gendered.

Writing from the perspective of interior architecture educators familiar with the parallels between object-versus-absence-of-an object and exteriority-versus-interiority disciplinary tensions, we explore the extent to which we are complicit agents of gender assignation: by failing to question both the tactic and explicit identity of the objects or tools used to author space. We do this by examining the role of linguistics in assigning gender to objects, calling into question the extent to which supposedly gendered objects inform the wider social relations of space, forcing us to consider the need for a new lexicon of non-binary spatial syntax. Our analysis also reflects upon the outcomes of a making exercise run during the AHRA Architecture and Feminisms Conference (at KTH, Stockholm, Nov 2016) and a student workshop run at the Royal College of Art. Drawing inspiration from the work of Helene Cixous (1999), the Stockholm workshop began with a piece of provocative prose and invited participating delegates to engage in de-gendering objects and/or making their own gendered/non-gendered objects/voids. As anthropologist Daniel Miller identifies, objects "continually assert their presence as simultaneously material force and symbol. They frame the way we act in the world, as well as the way we think about the world’. (Miller, 1987, p.105) Subsequently, the artefacts produced in both workshops are qualitatively examined using the theoretical tools of constructivism within a feminist analytical framework.

ContributionNameRCA ID
Official URL: http://architecturefeminisms.org/
Subjects: Architecture > K100 Architecture > K110 Architectural Design Theory
Other > Social studies > L200 Politics > L210 Political Theories > L216 Feminism
Other > Linguistics > Q100 Linguistics > Q110 Applied Linguistics
School or Centre: School of Architecture
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2016 14:53
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2016 14:53
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2320

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