26 September 2009

Design and gender: going beyond shrink it and pink it

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Femme Den is a small internal cadre of designers of Smart Design — the company that was responsible for the OXO Good Grips kitchen tools and the Flip Mini Digital Camcorder — that is devoted to thinking about the differences between genders and what that means for product development.

“The Femme Den started as an underground collective of international women searching for answers in a world that was not designed for us. We’ve now grown to a leading team of design researchers, industrial designers, and engineers who are paving the way for a deeper understanding around design and gender.

Armed with our unique toolkit of know-how and fresh design methods, we create products that make a positive impact on people’s lives, particularly women’s. We bring our knowledge to life in the products we design–from the kitchen to the ski slopes to the emergency room.”

A series of articles on Fast Company provide more background on their work:

Forget “shrink it and pink it”: the Femme Den unleashed
by Kate Rockwood – From Issue 139 | October 2009
Boobs. The Femme Den talks about them easily and often — and about the challenges they present to designers. Backpack makers don’t seem to have a clue what to do about boobs. Ditto designers of unisex hospital scrubs, famous for their gaping V-necks. “One surgeon told me there wasn’t a woman at the hospital whose boobs he hadn’t seen,” says Femme Den member Whitney Hopkins.

Femme Den’s five tenets of designing for women
by Kate Rockwood – From Issue 139 | October 2009
1. EMPHASIZE BENEFITS OVER FEATURES: Rather than touting feature sets and specs (how fast or big or slick something is), make the product’s benefits clear. Who can it connect her to? How does it make her life easier? How will it save …

Design in action
by Kate Rockwood – From Issue 139 | October 2009
The Femme Den points to an array of products that smartly and subtly consider women in their design.

Examining design values: warm, cold, or just right
by Erica Eden – Sep 25, 2009
How products can hit a sweet spot between traditionally female (Warm) and male (Cold) values.

Designing for gender, when one or both parties reap the rewards
by Yvonne Lin – Sep 24, 2009
The most successful products are designed for one sex but embraced by both.

How companies can woo women with design
by Agnete Enga – Sep 23, 2009
When shopping, men tend to go linear and deep, researching a product in detail and then going in for the kill. Women go wide, gathering information that goes beyond herself and her personal needs.

Hunter vs. gatherer: gender differences on the mind
by Whitney Hopkins – Sep 23, 2009
Most of us are only aware of obvious physical or behavioral attributes that differ between genders. But our differences run deeper–to the way we think, the way we act, and to our primitive desires.

Why designers need to talk about sex
by Femme Den – Sep 22, 2009
It’s about time the design industry got serious about gender differences.

Introducing the Femme Den: going beyond “shrink it and pink it”
by Linda Tischler – Sep 21, 2009
The Femme Den aims to go far beyond the traditional “shrink it and pink it” strategy that manufacturers often employ when targeting the female market.

Sex and electronics – Part 1: women and smart design
by Linda Tischler – Jan 13, 2009
In the wake of CES, a pair of women designers offer some suggestions on how consumer electronics manufacturers could boost their market share by taking gender differences into account.

Sex and electronics – Part 2: Femme Den’s favorite gadgets from CES
by Linda Tischler – Jan 13, 2009
Here are the gadgets they loved at CES… and the ones they want to send back to the locker room.

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