Semiotics

Brief: Find an image or object that can be interpreted in at least three different ways by different sets of people.

ALPHA

Greek_lc_alpha.svg

  1. Greek Letter A –  The symbol is used to represent the first letter in Greek alphabet, while in the numeral system, is often given the value of 1. ∝ (alpha) is said to be derived from Egyptian hieroglyphic for a horned ox’s head. Transliterated into English, the symbol stands for the letter ‘A’. It is pronounced as  æl-fə, as a in father. It is commonly used by historians or Greek linguists.
  2. Alpha Male –  The term ‘alpha male’ involves a level of dominance. The concept is taken from animal hierarchy, where the highest ranking individual is termed as the alpha.
  3. Alpha Particle –  Alpha particles are positively charged particles, a set of two protons and two neutrons bound together. They are used to detect the structure of an atom. It is named after the the Greek letter ∝. Greek letters are used in order to prevent confusion between the letters used in a word and symbol itself. It is generally used by scientists or physicists.
  4. Active Return – ∝ is used to represent the active return in investment, i.e. the percentage of profit as compared to investment and expected profit. It is often used as a benchmark to assess performance. It is often used by marketing managers or finance experts.
  5. Unknown values in Maths –  In mathematics, ∝ is used to represent unknown quantities such as angles. Greek symbols are often found in mathematics as Greek mathematicians often used these symbols in their own calculations and this influenced their use in the modern field of study. It is often used by mathematicians.
  6. First Version – ∝ also often stands for the first version of a software product, that generally doesn’t contain all the features of the final product. The term comes due to the numeric value of alpha, i.e. ‘1’. It is most often used by computer programmers or software developers.

 

Bibliography – 

https://jakubmarian.com/pronunciation-of-the-greek-alphabet-in-english/

http://www.pathguy.com/alphabet.htm

http://www.rapidtables.com/math/symbols/greek_alphabet.htm

http://nymag.com/betamale/2016/05/the-rise-of-the-alpha-beta-male.html

https://www.britannica.com/science/alpha-particle

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/alpha.asp?lgl=rira-baseline-vertical

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/active-return.asp?lgl=rira-baseline-vertical

https://www.easycalculation.com/maths-dictionary/alpha.html

http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/A/alpha_version.html

 

 

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Analysis of Proposition 26, Grammar of Ornament

Proposition 26: Colours on white grounds appear lighter; on black grounds, darker.

Owen Jones (1809 – 1874) was a Victorian architect, most well – known as author of the book ‘Grammar of Ornament’, published in 1856. He was one of the most radical designers of his time, especially in the case of his ornament designs. His book illustrate historical ornaments from architecture, metalwork, woodwork, glass painting etc. Jones’ book covered all bases and inspired artists and designers all across the world. The Grammar of Ornaments also lists and explains thirty seven propositions that dictate arrangement of form and colour. These propositions turned out to be ground-breaking and of highest quality even in its least revolutionary parts. They present a logical distillation of the principles apparent in the decorative plates that he studied across the length of the book. Jones saw them as the intellectual core of his work. They were written as a remedy to the problem located by critics in the definition of ‘arrangement of form and colour.’

Proposition 26 states that ‘Colours on white grounds appear lighter; on black grounds, darker.’ The statement suggests that the colour ‘white’ makes the colour placed on top of it seem of lighter value or tone, while the colour ‘black’ would make the same colour seem darker.

The principle works on the basis of simultaneous colour contrast, i.e. how each colour affects the other. Since we rarely see colours in isolation, this effect is a part of our daily lives. The effect does not change the original colour, it simply changes our perception of the colour. For example, if blue and red are placed one beside the other, the blue would seem to be greenish, while the red would seem to be a shade of orange.

The theory of simultaneous colour contrast is also connected to the Bezold Effect. This effect was discovered by a 19th Century rug designer, Wilhelm von Bezold. He found that he could alter the appearance of his rug entirely simply by changing the background colour. This concept – of the change in perception of colour in relation to another colour – came to be known as the Bezold Effect.   When white is applied to the entire composition, its light value washes over the rest of the composition, while same is the case with black. The reason behind this effect is a neurological puzzle. There are several theories – some believe that it may be due to spatial frequency dynamics or brightness perception, other believe that it is due to the manner in which our retina processes each colour.

To illustrate further, if we place the colour orange against a black background, it will seem darker as compared to when placed on a white background. The case remains true across the entire spectrum of colours. However, if we place grey on a white background, it seems darker, while on a black background, it seems lighter.

Thus, we can conclude that proposition 26 ‘colours on white grounds appear lighter; on black grounds, darker’ works for all hues except grey.

 

Bibliography
New World Encyclopedia. “Bezold Effect”, last modified on June 6, 2016. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Bezold_Effect
Feisner, Edith. Colour: How to use colour in Art and Design. London: Lawrence King Publishing, 2006.
Ornament Scholar. “Ornament as a distinct from Decoration”, last modified on February 23, 2014. http://ornament-scholar.blogspot.in/
Jesperson, John. “Originality and Jones’ The Grammar of Ornament of 1856”. Rhode Island College, 2008.
Frankel, Nicholas. “The Ecstasy of Decoration: The Grammar of Ornament as Embodied Experience”. Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide 2 (2003), last accessed on October 1, 2016. http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/winter03/79-winter03/winter03article/246-the-ecstasy-of-decoration-the-grammar-of-ornament-as-embodied-experience

Religion and the Great Exhibition of 1851

 

Introduction

The concept of The Great Exhibition of 1851 was created by Henry Cole, a council member of The Society of Arts. Henry met Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria in the year 1846. This resulted in The Society of Arts receiving a royal charter and its name was changed to ‘The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce.’ They began arranging small exhibitions to promote their cause. Inspired by the French ‘Industrial Exposition’ of 1844, Henry sought the help of Prince Albert to stage a similar event, catering to the public of England. Although there was little interest in this idea, Henry and Albert continued developing it until the government grudgingly set up a royal commission to investigate the idea. The venue for the exhibition was set to be the Crystal Palace, designed by Joseph Paxton. Prince Albert and Henry hoped that the exhibition be global and self-financing.

The exhibition opened on 1st May, 1851 with the first royal walkabout by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The exhibition displayed over 100,000 artefacts including industrial inventions, art, photography, and many other novelties. Some of the exhibit displayed at the event were The Koh-i-noor, The Tara Brooch, the world’s first voting machine and a precursor to today’s fax machine.

Although the exhibition was meant to be a celebration of art from all across the globe, the event turned out to be a showcase for British products. It went on to run from May till October. Over six million people visited the fair. The exhibition was the pinnacle of Victorian Britain.

Religion in the Victorian times

During the 1800s, the government of England was attempting to improve the church’s representation across England’s manufacturing city. In 1818, it invested £1 million in order to build more churches. There was a huge increase in the number of churches from 14,500 in 1841 to 24,000 in 1875. Due to this, religion was playing a central role in the era round the great exhibition.

Religious Participation in the Great Exhibition

As the great exhibition was mostly about material artefacts, one may assume that religion did not play a role in the event. Moreover, it was an All Nation event, thus secular. The most obvious mention of religion was the prayer made by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the beginning of the exhibition. Each religion however, viewed the exhibition differently. Following this, were the hundreds of sermons delivered by priests all across the country on the day after the opening ceremony. Special guides were produced to guide visitors and explain the rich religious lifestyle of the people of London. Religious organizations produced books, pamphlets and handbills in order to advocate their religion.

Exhibits were not only about the gross material value, but also about spiritual enlightenment. The British and Foreign Bible Society and The Religious Tract Society even managed to put up stands inside the exhibition hall and were thus listed as authorized exhibitors.

Religious perspectives about the Great Exhibition

While there was strong religious opposition to the event during the late 1850s, it dissolved by the time of the opening of the exhibition. Several periodicals which had earlier criticized it were now encouraging the masses to attend the event.

The organizers looked at the event as a secular celebration of products manufactured across the globe, but religious missionaries perceived it as an opportunity to promote their beliefs.

Christians welcomed The Great Exhibition with open arms. John Stoughton, a historian and a Christian, stated that The Great Exhibition was ‘a monument to Christianity.’ Prince Albert himself believed that the exhibition would be the key to great technological advancements. It would be a divine event that would showcase God’s creations and would advance Christianity.

Some students put forth a strong connection between the Great Exhibition and Belshazzar’s Feast. 1

They went on to say that the Great Exhibition too, will end in the same way that Belshazzar’s feast ended.

Catholics viewed the exhibition as an oppressor that made the exhibition exclusionary and exclusive, but the Anglo-Jewish elite thought that it encouraged equality of the Jews, especially at the time of their emancipation. For the Jews, the exhibition was a chance to gain respect. Pacifists such as Burritt believed that the exhibition as the start of a new world order, and peace would prevail over warring nations.

Secularists were mostly divided in their opinion about the exhibition. Radical socialists saw several social dangers.

All the three groups, however – Catholics, Jews and Secularists – found that the exhibition raised the question of identity, more so because it was during this period that they were attempting to figure out their position on the religious landscape.

The very fact that the Great exhibition was an extensive display of material artefacts raised issues of spiritual sensibility. Some clergymen, however, thought that the exhibition was a dedication of sorts to the God of material wealth, Mammon.

Another issue that cropped up was the fact that the event was a celebration of human achievements, and thus encouraged the growth of pride. Therefore, to many, the exhibition became a source of sin.

The religious parameters of the exhibition, however, were not confined to its purpose. During the period of the exhibition, Jews, Muslims, and other such ‘heathens’ flocked to visit this great event and their presence posed several other issues. Christians in England wondered if their presence posed a threat to them or an opportunity to facilitate mass conversions.

Conclusion

Old history depicts the Great Exhibition as one of the most important events in the development of science and technology across the world. One must strive to understand the exhibition by looking at it stripped of its official ideology, since the exhibition served a variety of purposes. Unsurprisingly, the exhibition, given its magnanimous scale, had a profound bearing not only on the industrial side of the word, but also on contemporary religion.

Notes

  1. Belshazzar was the Coregent of Babylon who celebrated a great feast for a thousand of his grandees and drinks from the temple vessels. During the feast, a hand appears and writes something incomprehensible on the wall. The king’s advisor, Daniel, a man renowned for his wisdom, explains that Belshazzar had blasphemed God, and thus, God had sent down the hand to curse him. The curse stated that Belshazzar would be overthrown by Mendes and the Persians.

Bibliography

Cantor, Geoffrey. Introduction to Religion and the Great Exhibition of 1851.  Oxford University Press, 2011.

Cohn, Jonathon. “Who is out of line in the march of progress? Perspectives on Religion and Industry around the Great Exhibition of 1851”. Georgetown University, 2010.

English Heritage. “Story of England: Victorians: Religion”. Last accessed on August 29, 2016. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/learn/story-of-england/victorian/religion/

Historic UK. “The Great Exhibition of 1851”. Last accessed on August 29, 2016. http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Great-Exhibition-of-1851/

History. “The Great Exhibition”. Last accessed on August 29, 2016. http://www.history.co.uk/study-topics/history-of-london/the-great-exhibition

UK Essays. “The Impacts of the Great Exhibition”. Last accessed on August 29, 2016. https://www.ukessays.com/essays/history/the-impacts-of-the-great-exhibition-history-essay.php

 

The Industrial Revolution

Early 18th century industries were small-scale and unsophisticated. Mid-18th century saw the invention of new technologies and rise of large scale, intensive factory system.

 

Events leading up to the Industrial Revolution

1764

The spinning of cotton into thread generally took place at the homes of the textile workers – this was known as cottage industries. Invention of the spinning wheel by James Hargreaves radicalized the process, with the worker being able to spin 80 spools of thread at once as compared to the previous number of eight. This invention facilitated the rise of large textile factories. The new machines also led to reduction in number of workers required, thus threatening jobs of textile workers.

1769

The first steam engine had been patented in 1698. Watt, however, realized that this design was highly inefficient and his first patent of his steam engine in 1769 improved upon the earlier engine. Unemployment rose creation of mills and factories run on steam drove out hand-produced goods. Steam powered ships and trains moved goods and people from one place to another more efficiently. A middle class sprang up amongst the factories and mills – these people worked less, yet enjoyed improved standard of living. The majority of the population who worked in the factories, however, labored at low wages and long hours. This also led to child laborers, as children of laborers worked in order to earn more money.

1770s

The reduction in jobs led to lower quality of life. Those who once worked outdoors were forced to work indoors under bad conditions. Moreover, they lost their individuality. Romanticism emerged as a movement to depict these emotions and nostalgia and focus on the wild beauty of nature and its ruggedness and freedom. While several paintings were abstract in their forms, some were not afraid to address the industrial side of the problem, such as Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken Up”.

At the same time, realist painters showed things exactly as they were and wished to give laborers something they could relate to. John Ruskin began giving art lectures to laborers at the Working Men’s College and supported and encouraged many artists.

1800

Charles Stanhope built the first printing press in 1800, which had an iron press rather than a wooden one. It could print 200 impressions per hour. Stanhope’s contribution was a crucial preliminary step in print communication. The use of steam for the machinery and replacement of the flatbed with rotary motion of cylinders further radicalized the printing press.

1807

During the Napoleonic Wars, both England and France were in economic retribution, thus testing the usual neutrality of the United States. Tension between England and US grew. British deserters joined ranks of USS Chesapeake. The British ordered that should any ships cross the Chesapeake, it must be searched for the deserters. On June 22, 1807, Chesapeake captain James Barron refused to allow the British ship HMS Leopard to search his ship. The British violated American sovereignty by using force, firing upon the American flag, and destroying American life and property.  After the incident, President Thomas Jefferson, on December 21, 1807, passed the Embargo act which closed all US ports to export shipping in US of foreign vessels. Heavy restrictions were placed on imports from England. He hoped that this act would destroy economies of both France and England, and thus force them to accept US’ neutrality. However, the two economies continued unchanged. The economy of The United States, however, was devastated. There was high unemployment, bankruptcy, lack of profits and little trade. This resulted in the people of US producing their own goods.

1812

Troubles with Native Americans, war hawks, British aid to Native Americans, impressment and loss of respect for America were a few of the factors that led to the war of 1812. The Embargo Act of 1807 and the War of 1812 acted as a springboard for industrial revolution. It forced the United Nations to begin producing its own goods. The war revealed the need for better transport, economic independence and independent market.

1837

The evolution of Design is closely linked to technological innovations, societal needs and the visual imagination of the practitioners. With the advancement in technology available to designers, the artistic and commercial possibilities for design increased rapidly. The Government school of Design in Somerset House was established in 1837 by the Board of Trade for the improvement of ornamental art. Experienced masters taught drawing, practical geometry, perspective, painting, modelling and casting.

1851

In 1846, Henry Cole, as a council member of The Society of Art, met Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria and the two of them developed an idea for an exhibition for all Nations, meant to be the greatest collection of art in the industry. It was in 1851 that the idea was put into execution. Visiting the exhibition became feasible for the masses due to the recently developed railway lines spread across the country. The events turned out to be one of the defining points of the 19th Century. Not only was the event self-financing, it also turned in a small profit. The exhibition, however, caused further partition within society. Class-consciousness became more defined.

1856

In response to the faults of the Great Exhibition, architect Owen Jones realized the need for a better understanding of design and ornamentation. In response to this realization, he published an extensive inventory of international and historical decorative styles. The book had 20 sections on illustrated motifs and contained 37 propositions on what makes good design. His book was a pioneer in chromolithography (multi-colored printing). Jones also developed new binding techniques, which further expanded design technology and design knowledge.

1880 – 1910

Many believed that the Industrial Revolution had made man less creative and the manufacturing process had removed individuality from each product produced. This led to the Arts and Crafts movement which aimed to establish ‘man’ back into the manufacturing process. The movement promoted simple goods manufactured through good craft techniques. This movement also influenced movements such as Bauhaus and Modernism.

 

The industrial Revolution had several effects, such as the emergence of middle class, faster transportation and communication and more efficient technology. There was surplus food and people led longer lives, thus leading to increased population.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gender Stereotypes and Washroom Signage: An Analysis

Contents

  1. Thesis Statement
  2. Abstract
  3. Minimalism in Design
  4. Use of Minimalism in Design
  5. Study of Gender Stereotypes – Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
  6. How Stereotypes translate into design
  7. Gender Stereotypes and Washroom signage
  8. The Debate against Gender Neutral Washroom Signage
  9. Gender Neutral Washroom Signage
  10. Interview
  11. Documentation
  12. Conclusion
  13. Reflection
  14. Citations
  15. Bibliography

 

Thesis Statement

This project aims to study and analyse use of gender stereotypes in minimalist washroom signage in order to create gender neutral washroom signage.

 

Abstract

Minimalism was first seen in the 1860s, and it influenced everything from art, music, literature to design. This school of thought explores simplification of forms through basic shapes, forms, colours and typography. This paper examines minimalism in communication design and specifically looks at minimalist washroom signage design. It also studies gender stereotypes across the globe and attempts to correlate the two by analysing how these stereotypes affect signage design and thus, affect our perception of ‘gender’. Washroom signage design will be studied from five perspectives – attire displayed, characteristics highlighted, preferences depicted, signage colours and form of the signage.

  1. Attire – This perspective examines dressing style, hair, shoes and other such external features displayed by the signage.
  2. Characteristics – This looks at the underlying meaning shown by the signage, such as the concepts of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’.
  3. Preferences – This studies how each signage defines what each gender must do and like.
  4. Colour – Each gender is often assigned a colour (often pink for the woman and blue for the man). This perspective looks at the use of such ‘pre-defined’ colours given to each gender.
  5. Form – This examines the overall form of the signage.

The paper will further introduce the concept of gender-neutral bathrooms and study the signage used by such gender-neutral bathrooms.

 

Minimalism in Design

The Cambridge dictionary defines minimalism as  ‘belonging or relating to a style in art, design, and theatre that uses the smallest range of materials and colours possible, and only very simple shapes or forms’. Minimalism explores only the very essential parts of an artwork or design. It is design at its most basic structure, stripped of all superfluous elements, colours, forms or textures.  For most part, minimalism follows the Occam’s razor theory. It is ‘described as ‘the simplest answer is most often correct,’ although this is an oversimplification. The ‘correct’ interpretation is that entities should not be multiplied needlessly.’ 1

Also known as Hard-edge painting, it is ‘characterized by large, simplified, usually geometric forms on an overall flat surface; precise, razor-sharp contours; and broad areas of bright, unmodulated colour…….Minimal hard-edge painting is the anonymous construction of a simple object.’2

Minimalism focuses on the interpretation of the piece by the viewer. The repetitive forms emphasize the subtle differences in the viewer’s perception of the elements that make up the piece.

The movement was a reaction to the decorative art style of the previous years – abstract expressionism. Abstract expressionism was personal and expressionists sought to express their emotions on the canvas through dribbled, smeared and splashed paint. Minimalists felt this art style as pretentious and overly-personalized. They attempted to create art that referred to nothing but itself.

Several parts of minimalism were derived from the de-stijil movement in the 1920s. Dutch artists and designers united and applied the basic principles of cubism to their paintings to give way to de-stijil, meaning ‘the style’. The artistic vocabulary of this movement consisted of geometric forms, straight lines and shapes and primary colours plus black and white. De-stijil movement also led to the rise of a new movement termed as neo-minimalism. Neo-minimalists build upon the same principles as minimalists, and, in addition, create contrasts through use of bright colours and geometric lines.

Minimalism is also said to have originated from traditional Japanese design which relies on Zen and simplicity. Unnecessary details and flourishes were discarded. The Japanese integrated their Zen culture into their buildings and this influenced western architecture in the 18th century and also inspired minimalist architecture in the 19th and 20th century.

While minimalism began blossoming in the 1959-60, the actual term minimalism was first coined by Robert Wollheim in his essay ‘Minimal Art’ in 1965. 4  Although several names for the art movement floated into recognition, such as A.B.C. art, Reductive Art, literalism, systemic painting and Art of the Real, the word ‘minimalism’ stuck because it explained the reduction in elements.

Minimalist movement began in the field of fine arts, and then moved to sculpture and further on. Russian artist Kazemir Valemich’s famous painting ‘Black Square’ (1915) that displayed a black square on a white ground from first showed reductionist tendencies of modern art.

1.jpg

Fig 1. Kazimir Malevick, The Black Square, 1915, Oil on linen canvas, 79.5 cm x 79.5 cm, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Another painting by Robert Rauschenberg in 1951 also leaned towards minimalism as shown through his works featuring seven panels of white paint on unprimed canvas.

2.png

Fig 2. Robert Rauschenberg, White Painting [seven panel], 1951. Oil on canvas, 72 x 125 inches (182.9 x 320 cm). Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York, New York

The movement of minimalism, however, truly began in New York in 1960s. Frank Stella, based in New York, was one of the first artists to be linked to minimalism. His artwork succeeded that of Robert Rauschenberg. Stella gained fame and entry to the world of minimalist art through his series of ‘Black Paintings’. Each painting consisted of a black background with multiple, closely-spaced thin white lines.

3.jpg

Fig 3. Frank Stella, The marriage of reason and squalor II, 1959, Enamel on canvas, 230.5 cm x 337.2 cm, MOMA, New York

As Stella quoted: “What you see is what you see.” ‘He ultimately went on to create large-scale freestanding sculptures, architectural structures, and the most complex work ever realized in the medium of printmaking. Stella’s virtually relentless experimentation has made him a key figure in American modernism, helping give rise to such developments as Minimalism….’ 5

These group of artists indulging in minimalism were referred to as minimalists or hard-edges.

As the influence of modernism expanded, minimalism began spreading into the field of sculpture. “In a discussion with Frank Stella, who was named as a principal influence on the object-sculptors, Donald Judd, one of the most prominent of minimalist sculptors…..insisted that ‘You should have a definite whole and maybe no parts, or very few . . . The whole’s it. The big problem is to maintain the sense of the whole thing’….”6

Minimalism soon expanded from sculpture to include architecture and design. An architect famous for being a key figure in the minimalist movement is Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Mies tried to create simplistic and clear building designs through use of steel, glass and open spaces. Several of his principles are used today, not only in architecture but also in design.

Designers were concerned with the permanence, structure and timelessness of their design.  As the 1970s approached, however, designers ‘adopted the minimalist style not for social change, but as an aesthetically and economically attractive technique.’ 7

Minimalism continued to diversify into various other fields and the movement began breaking apart until each artist developed their own personal directions. Minimalism soon gave way to the Post-minimalism period. While minimalist artworks were impersonal and objective, post-minimalist artworks tried to find expression in expressionless forms.

Certain criteria of minimal art are still followed by artists and designers around the globe. Current minimalist trends dictate that the focus rest on one major element of the visual.

 

Difference between minimalism in art and design

The line between art and design is fine and complex in its understanding. One often finds artists who call themselves designers and vice versa. Designers mostly – emphasizing the word mostly – attempt to create functional pieces that tend to a requirement imposed by the client, while artists create pieces that are more personal and decorative than practical.

Similarly, in minimalist art, the artist reduces the amount of artwork so as to enhance his opinion of the subject more than the piece itself. In minimalist design, however, the designer reduces his / her own interference of his / her personal sentiments so as to enhance the piece.

 

Difference between simplicity and minimalism

At its core, minimalism is stripping the elements of its superfluous elements until only the absolutely necessary components remain. It is the reduction of quantity. Simplicity is the reduction of complexity. While minimalist design is generally simple, simplistic design may not necessarily be minimalist.

 

Use of minimalism in design

Minimalism is designed around the content, and this is the technique’s USP. Its key feature is ‘less is more’ and tends to reduce quantity of elements present in the design so as to highlight the message to be conveyed.

Minimalism in design can be used in several ways, such as those explained below:

  1. Contrast – Using opposing elements to highlight concepts adds instant allure to the design. Contrast can be defined in terms of colour (black and white designs are often popular), typography (in terms of size) and composition. Adding the element of contrast also improves the readability of the design, thus improving its effectiveness as a whole. However, one must learn the difference between contrasting and conflicting elements.
  2. Space / Composition – Each element of the design must stand and have a place of its own. Minimalist design rarely looks cramped. More importantly, every component must be readable and clear. Moreover, placing one visual that dominates the design often works. This technique directly connects to contrast. Here, the word ‘dominant’ does not necessarily mean ‘large’.
  3. Colour – Minimal designs are often limited to one or two colours.
  4. Typography – The general kind of typography used in minimal design is often simple, with bold strokes. However, one can pull off minimalist designs even through use of complex, script fonts.

Signage design and use of minimalism

Signage design comes under the topic of wayfinding. Wayfinding informs people of their surrounding environment and displays information at strategic points to guide them in the right direction.

Wayfinding signs are generally of four types:

  1. Directional signage – points the way towards a particular building or object
  2. Informational signage – gives information such as operating hours, services available, etc.
  3. Safety / Security signage – gives safety or security related information such as emergency procedures, health hazards, etc.
  4. Identification signage – ascertains the facility / building / object available at the spot

Signage design must observe the following:

  1. Consistency in fonts, sizing of visuals / text, grid design and spacing as well as material
  2. Easily readable
  3. Use symbols that can be understood by the general public
  4. Design of the signage must ‘fit in’ with the surroundings in terms of style and material while at the same time remain easily noticeable

Minimalism in signage design is often the norm as non-minimalist signage would not instantly clarify the required information.

One of the earliest intuitive signage for public lavatories was found in mid 1960s for the British rail. Design studio DRU (Design Research Unit) devised a modern, aesthetic design that was implemented across locomotives, stations, published materials and lavatories. The United States developed the British signage on a thorough basis in the 1970s. It was finally in 1974 that bathroom signage became more or less standardized through the collaboration of US Department of Transportation and American Institute of Graphic Arts who created 50 such pictograms.8

 

Materials and processes used in creation of signs

Some common materials found in washroom signage design are acrylic, aluminium composite panels, polyethylene, PVC, vinyl, polycarbonate.

Signs are generally created using the following methods:

  1. Laser cutting – A laser beam of high intensity is focused upon the material and this marks the material through rapid heating, melting or vaporising of the material.
  2. Printmaking – The artist coats a drawing of the image with ink which is them printing using roller press of hand press.
  3. Screen printing – The image to be printed is transferred to a fine fabric and the areas which are not to be printed are blocked off using resin. The ink is then rolled across the fabric such that the unblocked areas allow passage of the ink. This results in the image being duplicated on the material placed below the fabric.
  4. Painting – The artists physically paints on the material using various types of paints and brushes.
  5. CNC Router – It uses computer software and electronics to carve an image onto the material. This process is generally very precise and is similar to laser cutting.

 

Study of Gender Stereotypes – Men are from Mars and Women from Venus

Introduction to gender stereotypes

Humans thrive on variety. To break down this variety into categories and define each category with ‘how they are expected to be’ is to violate our right to exist as separate individuals. This process of breaking down of society to fit into ‘categories’ or ‘boxes’ is known as stereotyping. Stereotype may be defined as a set idea that people have about what someone or something is like especially an idea that is wrong. 9

Stereotypes often do the following:

  1. Stereotypes intensify differences between two particular groups, however small the difference may be. Most stereotypes often contain a kernel of truth, and this is so because actions are often unconsciously based on stereotypes that are commonly found around us. This makes it harder for society to distinguish between stereotypes and the truth. For example, a woman is generally expected to do housework and cleaning tasks. This stereotype is so innately drilled into our subconscious mind that we often do not question it when a woman says she is a ‘housewife’. In fact, most home-makers are women and this has developed due to the growing influence of this stereotype. However, when a man works inside the house and the woman is financially supporting the house, the action is considered unusual and often results in ridiculing the male.
  2. Stereotypes depend on the context they are viewed in. ‘For instance, when comparing Irish to Scots, the stereotype of Irish may change from “red-haired” to “Catholic”.’10
  3. Stereotypes distort information to suit the belief and this may take a negative toll on those believing the stereotype. For example, it is generally said that ‘men are taller than women’. This may affect short men who will then tend to over compensate for their height, considering themselves to not be ‘manly’ enough.

Stereotypes are omnipresent. ‘Among other things, they cover racial groups (“Asians are good at math”), political groups (“Republicans are rich”), genders (“Women are bad at math”), demographic groups (“Florida residents are elderly”), and activities (“flying is dangerous”).’11

While not all stereotypes are inaccurate, such as ‘Dutch people are tall’, some are less accurate than others, like ‘women are bad at math’. Stereotypes may change with times, for example, at the beginning of 20th century, Jews in the US were viewed as religious and uneducated. However, at the beginning of the 21st Century, they began to be looked at as high achievers.12

Stereotype vs Generalisation

One must, however, understand the differences between a ‘stereotype’ and a ‘generalisation’.

Generalisations are often sensitive to cultural differences and are based on multiple observations rather than assumption, unlike a stereotype. It informs the public about cultural, historical, geographical and other such characteristics while at the same time allowing for differences within the group. On the other hand, stereotypes are based on inaccurate and small number of observations. In fact, they are often based on assumptions. This results in an improper perception of an individual or group. They are not open for reflection and correction.

Generalisation can turn into stereotyping due to over simplification of certain characteristics of a group. While all stereotypes are based on generalisations, not all generalisations are stereotypes.

For example, ‘All Americans are obese’ would be a stereotype, however, ‘Americans have greater likelihood for being obese than other countries due to increased quantity of processed food’ would qualify as a generalisation. One must keep in mind that both generalisations and stereotypes can be equally harmful after a point.

 

Gender Stereotypes

Gender stereotypes are exaggerated images of men and women which are, more often than not, untrue. 13

They pit men and women into opposing groups and dictate what each group must prefer and behave like. Gender Stereotypes are a result of ‘nurture’ rather than ‘nature’. Gender stereotyping begins right from birth. A girl’s room is decorated with pink and she is gifted skirts and dolls. A boy, on the other hand, is given footballs and remote controlled cars. Their room is often painted blue.

A stereotype is wrongful when it violates human rights and fundamental freedoms. It can be harmful when it limits the person’s capacity to develop themselves and their capabilities.

 

Origin and development of Gender Stereotyping

Danish economist, Ester Boserup, in the year 1970, put forth a hypothesis that gender roles first originated from the agricultural practices followed in the pre-industrialization period. Societies that practiced plough agriculture, rather than shifting agriculture, developed gender specific roles. Men worked on the fields, while women specialized in activities within the house. Neither of them, however, were looked upon as an inferior gender. These roles first created norms for society and how each gender was supposed to behave. The use of plough agriculture can be divided into three mutually exclusive sects:

  1. The plough was absent
  2. The plough was not indigenous
  3. The plough was indigenous

The extensive database prepared by National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that there is a negative relation between the plough and role of woman in society. The increasing use of plough has been co-related with a reduction in female participation to a degree of 0.86, which is large as compared to standard deviation 1.0.14

These roles were further enhanced in the coming centuries. It became a norm for the men to work outside the house while the women worked inside. It was assumed that men had natural capability to work outside while the women lacked this capability.

Gender roles are closely linked with development of stereotypes. Gender roles can be called ‘prescriptions’ of gender stereotypes. They present patterns of what individuals or groups must do under certain situations.

Stereotypes were never constant – they often changed with the passage of time.

During the 16th and the 17th centuries, men in Europe wore high heeled shoes as a definition of power and a demonstration of their wealth. Women did not begin wearing heels until the 19th century.

Before the emergence of gender roles for colours blue and pink, children were dressed in white until the age of six, and men would have long hair up until the age of seven. It was just before the World War I that gender based colours began to emerge. Initially, Blue was considered to be a more feminine colour whilst pink was connected to masculinity due to its perceived power. One must note that, at this point, men were still considered to be ‘powerful’ as compared to women. ‘A June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”’15

It was during the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s that women rebelled and began wearing ‘masculine’ colours and this defined the trend of ‘unisex’ clothing. Women began wearing pink. The colours switched their purpose. It wasn’t long before the world picked up. The ‘pink and blue trend’ spread from clothing to other merchandise. Advertisers began selling their products to gender specific individuals.

“It is logical to assume that gender stereotypes today are the product of cultural bias that is found on many different levels of society—in the home, in the media, on the playground, and in the classroom—which then perpetuates into later workplace, affecting our identity/sense of self and our relationship with others.”16

 

Gender Similarities Model

The media is predominantly run by two models regarding gender roles and stereotypes. These are the Gender differences model and the Gender similarities model.  The Gender differences model states that men and women are very different from each other, both biologically and psychologically. The Gender Similarities Hypothesis was suggested by Jane Hyde, UW Madison, as a direct disagreement to the differences model. Hyde tested her model by analysing the meta-analyses of gender differences (reviewing several studies, often in hundreds or thousands, to test the trueness of a hypothesis). She came to the conclusion that the differences between two genders are next to negligible, and are only largely present in domain of motor performance, sexuality, and attitudes about casual relationships. However, the beliefs or stereotypes present in society leads to self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, ‘Women are bad at math’, or ‘Men have trouble communicating’ only stands true in today’s generation due to the individual’s or society’s belief in the stereotype.17

 

 

How Stereotypes translate into design

Gender stereotypes are enforced or intensified through a variety of media like newspapers, magazines and advertisements. The advent of the digital age has further spread the reach of media across the globe. Media has the power to create and change social norms. Design and Media ae often closely connected due to the fact that it influences the way we look at a design.

A typical 19th century Britain house would contain drawing rooms for the women, coloured in soft pastel colours and study rooms and libraries for the men coloured in dark, mahogany colours. Even now, while decorating a room meant for women, the curtains or other decor are generally of light colours like pink, peach and cream.  A room for a man would contain darker, solemn colours like green or brown. This depicts the gender bias found in design industry ever since the earlier times.

‘Historically, men have occupied power roles in offices, so male necessities dictated the design of prime spaces, while the female secretaries occupied ancillary areas. The Modernist mass-production model, paired with this male-centric paradigm, lingers even in today’s information age—the world of technology and web design is also a very male-dominated field, with 85 percent of tech workers at the top companies being male.’18

Although recent events have begun a wave of feminism, design is lagging behind in its approach. Gender stereotypes have translated themselves into design for the modern world. According to Jeanna Kimbre, manager of colours and materials at Sony Ericsson, Lund, ‘Why does a woman’s phone have to be pink?’ She believes products can be targeted without making categories.

While good design allows for variances between a man and woman’s physiology, it does not divide products into male and female.

Individuals are still assigned gender identities and roles, however, they are able to decide their own identity beyond this. The youth are opting to leave gender columns unspecified on their college forms and schools are accepting of the same. During the previous decades, transgenders were viewed as outcasts and were mistreated. This situation has changed over the past couple of years and the society has become more tolerant of those who ‘do not fit in’. In 1995, Martine Rothblatt, author of The Apartheid of Sex, argued, ‘There are five billion people in the world, and there are five billion unique sexual identities.’ The number may have changed, but the fact hasn’t.

 

Gender Stereotypes and Washroom Signage

Washroom signage often encourage gender stereotypes, albeit unconsciously.

These signs can be categorized into five kinds:

  1. Attire – This kind often discriminate between the two genders through dressing style, hair, shoes and other such external features.
  2. Characteristics – This type differentiates between the genders by looking at the underlying meaning shown by the signage, such as the concepts of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’.
  3. Preferences – This signage often prescribes what a particular gender must do, look like and how it must behave.
  4. Colour – This signage looks at genders through pre-defined colours (often pink for the woman and blue for the man).
  5. Form – This kind of signage suggest a particular stereotype through subtle use of forms and shapes.

 

5

Fig 4

The signage above shows the man using a triangle pointing downwards, while the woman is shown using a triangle pointing upwards. The triangle intends to show that the woman is wearing a dress, while the man has broad shoulders. The signage also shows two exactly opposite shapes, suggesting, at a more subconscious level, that the two genders are at odds with each other.

2

 

Fig 5

This sign also attempts to fit the woman in a dress using triangles. The man is shown using a thick rectangle. While the woman is shown having a waist, the man is straight.

3

Fig 6

This signage design again indicates that the woman must wear skirts, while the man is, again, shown with broad shoulders.

Men began wearing trousers about three thousand years ago, as they were more suited for hunting and horse riding. Women began wearing skirts due to hygiene reasons, before the invention of sanitary napkins. However, what was once common soon became a tradition. The bible, moreover, promoted the use of skirts amongst women. Duet 22:5 says: ‘The woman shall not put on [the weapons/armor of a warrior], neither shall a [warrior] put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.’ While the bible meant to say that the men and women must not adopt each other’s habits, the verse was taken literally by society.

Clothes are a construct of society and hence should not be used as an identity. Society must allow the freedom to choose what we wish to wear regardless of our gender.

1

Fig 7

The man is shown wearing a bow tie on his neck, while the woman has a bow on her head. This again raises the issue of men and women being depicted as opposite to one another.

6

Fig 8

The man is shown wearing a hat. The wearing of a hat indicates notions of superiority. The woman has a voluminous neck length hair. While the man has his eyes open, looking straight ahead, the woman is smiling with squinted eyes. This deals with the stereotype that men are supposed to be grim, serious creatures, while women are always smiling and happy.

Here stereotypes are seen not just in the figures, but also in the colours used. Blue has been used for the boy while red for the girl, suggesting sexuality.

4

Fig 9

The men’s washroom is indicated using a smoking pipe, while the women’s washroom using heels.

In the 16th and 17th century, heels were used by the men to indicate power and wealth. Women began wearing heels to match up to their masculine status. Eventually, the association of heels with women increased and this forced the men to stop their use of the footwear. This has an important significance because it indicates that women were always trying to match up to the men’s standard and this has been pulled into the 21st century as well.

Smoking was considered to be a hobby exclusively for men because the activity itself was considered unfeminine. In fact, laws were passed to ban women from smoking in public areas and men were even banned from smoking near women.

6

Fig 10

Here the man is shown as a devil, with horns, while the woman is supposed to be an angel, with wings. This indicates that women are expected to be good, polite and kind, while the men are brash, rude or unkind. This also indicated that women are ‘pure’ while men are not. On top of this, the women is, as she is in almost every signage, shown in a dress and the man in trousers.

7

Fig 11

The woman is shown using a butterfly, delicate and pretty with ‘feminine’ colours like purple and red, while the man is shown as a bug, ugly, uncultured and a shade of dark green, a colour associated with finance, ambition, greed and jealousy.

4

Fig 12

This sign shows that women talk more than men. It may also mean that men are verbally or emotionally stunted i.e. unable to talk about their opinions, while women talk too much.

2

Fig 13

The men are represented by fire, while the women by a flower. Fire depicts heat, strength and power – all connecting to stereotypes regarding men. Likewise, a flower indicates delicateness, purity and beauty. The flower could also allude to the female genitalia.

5

Fig 14

The man is shown flexing his muscles, while the girl is looking down demurely with closed eyes. This indicates that men are required to be strong with muscular bodies, while women are to behave shyly, even coy. The girl is shown with long hair falling over her shoulders, suggesting beauty. The man’s hair is standing upright, hinting at confidence and brashness.

3

Fig 15

The man is shown standing straight, while the woman has one knee bent and a hand over her mouth, as though embarrassed. This suggests that the thought of a woman using a restroom is not acceptable.

1

Fig 16

3

Fig 17

2

Fig 18

These three emphasize on differences between man and woman using the traditional colours blue and pink. The colour blue is supposed to be masculine, while pink indicates femininity.

1

Fig 19

This sign not only categorizes gender into two colours, but also dictates the sexual preferences of a gender. While it does not prohibit other sexual preferences, it does subtly expect the man to be interested in females.

2

Fig 20

This sign blatantly declares what each gender must like to do – the men must like football, because men are active and the women must like shopping because women must like to dress up.

3

Fig 21

The signage indicates that men like beer, a drink that signifies strength and roughness while the women prefer wine, significant of class, style and politeness.

3

Fig 22

The sign indicates sexual genitalia of both genders. However the form of the signs seem to subtly suggest that the woman (the incomplete pizza) requires the man (the slice of pizza) to complete herself, while the man’s slice is a complete form in itself.

1

Fig 23

The form of the figures are very different from one another. The woman’s form is incomplete, and looks breakable. The man is shown stiff and straight, having a strong form, supported by the line in the middle.

2

Fig 24

Here, the woman is shown by use of flowing hair and floating, disembodied breasts. There is a strong element of sexuality. The sign indicates that the woman is defined by her breasts, and nothing else.

One must realise that the messages that come off from each design may not be intended. They also may not be seen directly, but rather, are subconsciously driven into each of our minds. While not all stereotypes are offensive, we must also realize that being inoffensive does not make them ‘right’.

 

The debate against gender neutral Washrooms

We encounter sex-segregated washrooms nearly every area we visit. The signs used to separate the two may seem necessary and inoffensive, however, any transgender will let you know that this is not the case. The simple decision of choosing which washroom to enter may be painful or even downright dangerous for trans-people.

Unisex washrooms are not an old concept. They existed before the advent of gender-segregated washrooms. These washrooms are open to all people, regardless of their gender identity.

Sex-segregated washrooms date back to over a 100 years, in Paris (1700s). However, regulations that required men and women to use separate bathrooms only came up in the 1800s. These regulations were not created simply due to physiological differences between the two genders. Social norms of the time dictated that the woman’s place was at home and it was believed that the female gender was the weaker sex. Women required ‘protection’ and thus, separate rooms were created for the gender in every sphere of life – there were separate reading rooms, separate train cars and separate restrooms. The design of women restrooms often mimicked the comfort of homes – with curtains and sofas.

‘Public restrooms are not just toilets; for more than a hundred years, they have implicated questions of who really belongs in public, civic, and professional life.’19

While it is often said that gender segregated bathrooms protect the women or children from sex offenders, one must realize that a signage of a woman in skirt and an unlocked door is not going to stop those with wrong intentions. Moreover, gender neutral bathrooms provide a safe space for gender minorities and gender non-conforming identities. One cannot out the safety of one gender above another.

Another alternative reason as to why gender-neutral bathrooms are often rejected, is to maintain a sense of social order. ‘Each thing has its assigned place, and that makes us feel better.’20

Gender-neutral washrooms are also beneficial to those under care of an individual of opposite sex, such as a daughter and her father or a senior citizen with a nurse.

At the heart of the debate against gender neutral washroom is the issue of transphobia, meaning feelings of anger, disgust and hate towards those who do not conform to society’s definition of gender roles.

However, the popularity of gender neutral washrooms is increasing with the times, and more and more colleges, school and offices offer this facility along with the typical segregated washrooms.

Although the debate continues across the globe, we must ask ourselves – how long will visiting the washroom remain a privilege for certain sections of society and how long will we let gender define our rights?

 

Gender Neutral Washroom Signage

Most gender neutral signage show a human body divided in two parts – one part is male, the other part female.

2

Fig 25

This sign still emphasises on the two major genders and ignores the other variety that might exist. Moreover, it categorizes the third gender into a category that is still majorly based on male and female, without considering that the third gender may be a gender of itself, and not based on any other gender.

 

Interview

Kunal Shah, Interior Designer

What kind of work do you do?

I am an interior designer, interior architect, so I work on spaces, and my approach is graphical spaces. For me, composition of volumes and such things are very important.

What’s your typical day’s schedule?

I wake up at around 6:30 on weekdays (Monday to Friday). I do some yoga, I read, I get to work at 10 am. I work from 10 am to 6:30 pm, with a break for lunch at 1:00 pm, for which I return back home. However, each day is different because I often go to sites.

Have you ever attempted minimalist design?

The kind of work I tend to do is simplistic, somewhere close to minimalism. I don’t believe in minimalism, I believe in simplicity.

Why do you choose to be simplistic than minimal? What drives you towards simplicity?

Ultimately, the whole idea is to live a life you want to enjoy, and enjoy in a certain quality of life, and for that you don’t need too many things, you simply need what you need. Then, minimalism can tend to be harsh. I don’t believe the need to be harsh, I compare it to the amount of salts you need to put in food. You can’t eat food without salt, but I definitely don’t think you need to put too much salt. Getting the right amount of salt, the balance is important. That is what I aim to achieve in my work.

What is your process when you start designing a particular space? How do you go about it?

It involves a lot of discussion with the clients, trying to understand what they are all about, what their requirements are, what their cultural background is, in terms of where they come from or what do they do. I try to understand the context and the space very clearly, what kind of building, what kind of neighbourhood. Those things are very important to know, and thus I do an elaborate study of that and I document it. Then we clean up the spaces as required. The process than turns towards problem solving. The aesthetics fall into place based on these things.

What are the three things you believe are most important in a design?

Simplicity, Simplicity and Simplicity.

So you are really ‘into’ simplicity.

Shouldn’t everybody be?

Yeah, that’s right. The simpler the design the more efficient it is..?

Not just efficient. It’s also more beautiful. You try to camouflage lack of substance by ornamenting too much. I always give the analogy of a fit body. If you have a fit body, you can wear a white shirt and a pair of jeans and you will still look good and be attractive. If you are unfit, you will have to wear elaborate clothes, accessorize, put on makeup, do your hair, and do all sorts of things to hide something which ideally should not be hidden. A fit person is happier, similarly, a space which is fit functions better. I don’t believe in form follows function either, it is something that goes against aesthetics. I think it should be a natural process. When you lose the fat in your body, you enjoy your experiences. Space is no different.

What is your view on gender stereotypes? How do you think it affects design?

Gender stereotyping affects everything, and design is no exception. Any kind of stereotyping then becomes so engraved in us that you need to behave a certain way, dress a certain way, do thing in a certain manner, women being the exact opposites of men….But, I think is slowly changing. Most of my clients today – the women do not enter the kitchen, the men enjoy cooking, which for me, is a very new trend. In terms, of colour, biases, I think that’s disappearing. Nobody really paints a girl’s room pink anymore. There are, however, subtle undertones, which creep in. A woman wants a softer, gentler aesthetics, those stereotypes still exist. But these stereotypes are changing mainly because women are now financially independent, as compared to earlier, they have more say in important issues, so the house tends to be more balance. To a certain extent, I would say, women generally have more interest in residential spaces. The man tends to stick to one space, his ‘den’, the nature of which is typically more masculine. Overall, I believe it’s getting more and more balanced. Common spaces like bathrooms, living rooms are becoming very gender neutral. As for commercial spaces, I don’t think they are particularly sensitive to gender stereotypes, they are all masculine. As an added afterthought, there are women’s washroom signage.

 

Documentation

Based on the analysis done above, the creation of a new, stereotype free washroom signage for a gender-neutral washroom is a necessity.

STEP 1: Studying various washroom signage and identifying major stereotypes in them

These were then arranged in a grid for easy comparison and reference.

1

Fig 26

STEP 2: Design thinking and brainstorming

This is the most important stage in the process and involved creation of a variety of options for the design. I wished to get to the bottom of what it means to be human and use the function of a washroom, rather than what it means to be of a particular gender.

2

Fig 27

3

Fig 28

4

Fig 29

5

Fig 30

6

Fig 31

STEP 3: Creating Vector Drawings

This step meant choosing a select few from the options and creating finalised vector drawings of the same.

7

Fig 32

8

Fig 33

9

Fig 34

10

Fig 35

11

Fig 36

STEP 4: Making the Signage

The signage was created using a CNC Router machine and the markings were carved out on 6 inch by 6 inch pine wood pieces.

12

Fig 37

13

Fig 38

14

Fig 39

14

Fig 40

STEP 5: Final Product

  1. Playing with solid, void and gender importance

19

Fig 41

17

Fig 42

16

Fig 43

18

Fig 44

 

  1. Minimalist washroom signage

20

Fig 45

 

Conclusion

The study initially explains the history and concept behind minimalist design and explains its usage in the design world. It then sets out to analyse gender stereotypes across the globe and to apply them to minimalist washroom signage used currently. It studied various signage from the following perspectives:

  1. Attire
  2. Characteristics
  3. Preferences
  4. Colour
  5. Form

Gender stereotypes are unjustified evaluations regarding a particular kind of gender. They are essentially a violation of the freedom to be an individual. Stereotypes are over simplified generalizations that are based on assumptions and result in formation of an incorrect opinion about the gender. Design has the potential to change the way we perceive a group or individual through direct and/or indirect means. The trend of ‘masculine design’ and ‘feminine design’ is changing across the globe. Although a good design leaves room for biological / physical differences between genders, it does not classify the design into ‘male’ or ‘female’. Washroom signage, albeit a small part of our lifestyle, subconsciously affects the way we define the female and male gender and also affects how we perceive the third gender. Although the signage designs discussed in the study may not be directly offensive, however, being inoffensive does not make these stereotypes ‘right’.

The paper also aimed to briefly understand the concept of gender neutral washroom and signage and stereotypes used in this regard. Gender neutral bathrooms promote gender equality for all possible genders and thus make what is a ‘privilege’ to non-conforming genders, a basic right for all. Although the concept of gender neutral bathrooms already exists, it has been placed into execution by very few. It requires more aggressive campaigning and promotion amongst the masses. Large companies and national governments must take the required efforts for the implementation of this model.

The study concludes by designing a minimalist gender-free washroom signage that promotes equality for all genders.

The high point of society can only be reached when there is equality and peace between all and when society is defined by our identity as a person, not by our identity as a gender. According to Judith Butler, American philosopher and gender theorist, “There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender….identity is performatively constituted by the every expressions that are said to be its results.”

 

Reflection

Not only did this project sum up learnings from Integrative Seminar and Studio, it also interwove with other subjects to create a single strand that only became coherent at the end.

A lot of the thesis was driven through research techniques learnt in the ‘Objects of History’ course from Term 1. The thesis that I worked upon for History worked as a working draft for the layout and initial points of research for this one.

Although Rapid prototyping was meant to learn software, most of my concept understanding and concept sketching was derived from the elective. Rapid prototyping required us to create chess pieces that followed a certain theme. This taught me to keep the design relevant to my topic of research while still extending certain boundaries to keep the design unique.

Space and Materiality also pulled in at the point where I had to physically create my final project. Material exploration done in the first term helped me decide upon wood as a suitable material for it.

The thesis helped me gather and apply the entire year’s learnings into one final project. It also helped me understand areas of research I enjoy and the specialization I would like to take up during the coming year.

 

Citations

  1. “Occam’s razor”, last modified on April 9, 2016, https://explorable.com/occams-razor
  2. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Minimalism”, last modified on December 18, 2014, http://www.britannica.com/art/Minimalism.
  3. “Minimalism, New York, 1960s”, last accessed on April 11, 2016, http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/movements/195219
  4. Steven Heller, Graphic Design Time Line: A Century of Design Milestones (Canada: Allworth Press, 2000)
  5. “Frank Stella”, last accessed on April 9, 2016, http://www.theartstory.org/artist-stella-frank.htm
  6. Hartmut Obendorf, Minimalism Designing Simplicity (London: Springer-Verlag London, 2009)
  7. R. Roger Remington, American Modernism Graphic Design, 1920 to 1960, (China: Yale University Press, 2003)
  8. Johnathan Glancey, “The Genius behind stick figure toilet signs”, last modified September 11, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140911-the-genius-of-toilet-signs
  9. “Stereotype”, last accessed on May 27, 2016, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/stereotype
  10. Pedro Bordalo, Katherine Coffman, Nicola Gennaioli, Andrei Shleifer, “Stereotypes” (Royal Holloway University of London, Ohio State University, Universitá Bocconi and IGIER, Harvard University ,November 2013)
  11. ibid
  12. ibid
  13. GORDON MARSHALL. “gender stereotypes.”A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998.Encyclopedia.com. (May 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O88-genderstereotypes.html
  14. Alberto F. Alesina, Paola Giuliano, Nathan Nunn, “On the origins of Gender Roles: Women and the plough” (National Bureau of Economic Research, May 2011)
  15. “When did girls start wearing pink?”, last modified on April 7, 2011, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/when-did-girls-start-wearing-pink-1370097/?no-ist
  16. “Gender Stereotypes: Where do they come from and why do they persist?”, last modified on April 2, 2014, http://mediasavvygirls.com/gender-stereotypes-where-do-they-come-from-and-why-do-they-persist/
  17. “Why gender doesn’t matter”, last modified on July 10, 2008, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brainstorm/200807/why-gender-doesnt-matter
  18. “His and Hers: Designing for a post-gender society”, last accessed on May 17, 2016, http://www.metropolismag.com/March-2015/His-or-Hers-Designing-for-a-Post-Gender-Society/
  19. “Who’s afraid of Gender neutral bathrooms?”, last modified on January 26, 2016, http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/whos-afraid-of-same-sex-bathrooms
  20. Katherine Ripley, November 11, 2011 (12:53 p.m.), “Why are bathrooms segregated by sex anyway?”, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bathrooms-segregated-_b_8524374.html?section=india

 

Bibliography

Aimee Lee Ball, “In all gender restrooms, the signs reflect the times”, The New York Times, last modified on November 5, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/08/style/transgender-restroom-all-gender.html?_r=1

Alberto F. Alesina, Paola Giuliano, Nathan Nunn, “On the origins of Gender Roles: Women and the plough” (National Bureau of Economic Research, May 2011)

Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Minimalism”, last modified on December 18, 2014, http://www.britannica.com/art/Minimalism.

“Frank Stella”, last accessed on April 9, 2016, http://www.theartstory.org/artist-stella-frank.htm

“Gender Stereotypes: Where do they come from and why do they persist?”, last modified on April 2, 2014, http://mediasavvygirls.com/gender-stereotypes-where-do-they-come-from-and-why-do-they-persist/

GORDON MARSHALL. “gender stereotypes.” A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. (May 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O88-genderstereotypes.html

Hartmut Obendorf, Minimalism Designing Simplicity (London: Springer-Verlag London, 2009)

“His and Hers: Designing for a post-gender society”, last accessed on May 17, 2016, http://www.metropolismag.com/March-2015/His-or-Hers-Designing-for-a-Post-Gender-Society/

Johnathan Glancey, “The Genius behind stick figure toilet signs”, last modified September 11, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140911-the-genius-of-toilet-signs

Katherine Ripley, November 11, 2011 (12:53 p.m.), “Why are bathrooms segregated by sex anyway?”, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bathrooms-segregated-_b_8524374.html?section=india

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