Design and Gender Identity

  • 5Feb-Desig&Gender-GabrielMayer-DE_SIGN_01

Past Event

This event was on Thursday 5 February, 7pm

Is design a ‘man’s world’?  Join Design critic Alice Rawsthorn as she moderates a debate about the role of gender identity in design, from early prejudices towards women to contemporary theory.

The conversation considers whether design culture has become less misogynistic, and felt any impact from the ongoing debate about gender transition. The discussion speculates how the evolution of an increasingly eclectic and fluid concept of gender identity will redefine the traditional feminist arguments.

Joining the debate is designer Gabriel Ann Maher and Professor in Design, Linnaeus University, Mathilda Tham.






Gabriel Ann Maher is a designer currently living and working in the Netherlands. With a background in interior architecture, Maher’s practice is essentially focused on relationships between body and structure and an interest in objects and systems. An emerging methodology seeks to create situations where research and design come together in performance. Questioning design practices through queer and feminist frameworks has become a core position and approach. Until 2012, Maher practiced and taught interior architecture and design in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. Maher has been awarded the SIDA Foundation Mary White Memorial Scholarship from the University of NSW, nominated for the Vice Chancellors Distinguished Teaching Award while teaching at RMIT University, and became the recipient of the SIDA foundation Travelling Scholarship in 2011. In 2014, upon completion of a Masters degree in Social Design at Design Academy Eindhoven, Maher received the Keep An Eye Foundation Grant and Gijs Bakker Award.

Alice Rawsthorn writes about design in the International New York Times, which syndicates her articles worldwide. She is also a columnist for Frieze magazine and an author, whose latest book, the critically acclaimed Hello World: Where Design Meets Life, explores design’s influence on our lives: past, present and future. Based in London, she is chair of trustees at the Chisenhale Gallery as well as a trustee of the Whitechapel Gallery and the contemporary dance group Michael Clark Company. From 1985 to 2001, she was an award-winning journalist for the Financial Times; she was director of the Design Museum in London from 2001 until 2006, when she became design critic of the global edition of the New York Times. An honorary senior fellow of the Royal College of Art with an honorary doctorate from the University of the Arts, Alice has served on numerous cultural juries including the Turner Prize for contemporary art Alice was awarded an OBE for services to design and the arts in 2014.

Dr Mathilda Tham’s work sits in a positive, activist space between design, futures studies and sustainability, which she developed during the work on her doctoral thesis Lucky People Forecast (2008). Her research explores how design can intervene at the level of paradigms to support futures of sustainability. She uses design research as activism by staging and facilitating participatory and interdisciplinary workshops for critical and creative envisioning. Mathilda’s current research themes include metadesign, post-growth fashion, peace, and gender. As Professor in Design, Linnaeus University, Sweden, she leads the development of a new research platform Curious Design Change. She is a member of the board of Mistra (The Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research, Sweden), and an associate of the Sustainable Fashion Academy, which provides education for the Scandinavian fashion industry. Mathilda Tham is a metadesign researcher, co-convenor of MA Design Futures and Metadesign, and PhD supervisor at Goldsmiths, University of London.