Gender Design

Humans, having primary and secondary needs create requests to be solved. Marketing aims to investigate these requests in order to create a satisfying products. From a superficial analysis, however, what emerges is that marketing is driven by standard preconceptions that determine products.

Marketing is the process by which a firm profitably translates customer needs into revenue.”(Mark Burgess Managing Partner,Blue Focus Marketing) . This is not such an uninvolved and naïve process. In fact, Lisa Buyer affirms that, “Intuitive by design, marketing matches the right message/cause to the right person. Finding someone who has a personal connection with your product, service or cause in a way that is unobtrusive and inviting.(Lisa Buyer– President and Chief Executive Officer, The Buyer Group)

It’ s right here that gender design bases its roots.

Unfounded, but well practiced preconceptions are inherent from childhood creating stereotypes. The idea of femininity and masculinity divide requests from a marketing point of view. (Fig. 1)

This builds up like a layer, with which we filter reality, and is clear that marketing is the puppeteer.

The main design and gender differentiation is based on a sexuality approach. It is dervived from the past: today this emerges from marketing, in the past it came from artistic representation of women.

The represented of female figures changed from Tiziano‘s “La Venere d’Urbino” (Fig. 2) to Édouard Manet‘s Olympia” (Fig. 3) in just a couple of centuries. The first is shown as a prudish, mythological, naked woman lying on a bed. It is important to notice that nudity is shown through historical and well known ideals that make her pure and beautiful through peoples eyes.

The second one is completely different. The same girl is replaced by Olympia, and is now an anti-academic, provocateur of official circles and morals. This time we can see a shocking nudity: she is no more a pure woman but the whole representation lets us clearly understand that she is a prostitute. She has particular jewelery, the ribbon velvet neck, the orchid in her hair, the slipper dangling from her foot. Also, the place of a noble residence is now the glimpse of a brothel.

Fig. 2: Tiziano: La Venede d’Urbino - Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi, 1538

Fig. 2: Tiziano: La Venede d’Urbino – Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi, 1538

Fig. 3: Édouard Manet: Olympia- Parigi, Musée d’Orsay, 1863

Fig. 3: Édouard Manet: Olympia- Parigi, Musée d’Orsay, 1863


The Sexual approaches of women figures has deeply changed with the development of social concepts. Superficiality is gained nowadays from the level of life that address products and advertising based on shallows notions.

Needless to say, that the sexuality that once seemed to be taboo, today, does not seem to exist anymore, as we can see in many kinds of product.(Fig. 4)

Another nonconformist behavior similar to Manet’s one, is identified in the Intimissimi advertising that breaks the chain of standard samples of our new sexuality concepts. This is taking the path less of the travelled. In the past this type of advertising created scandals. Nowadays this game of gender design can be seen as a marketing strategy.

Manets strategy can be seen as thinking that differs from previous times.

The woman doesnt wear, as we are used to seeing, sexy underwear that is pink or transparent, but a pair of mens grey boxers.


For thousands of years, in the minds of men, it is rooted concept that males have greater importance than the females, and then a man who dresses as a woman, losing dignity and importance, it becomes ridiculous; consequently a woman dressed as man acquires dignity and importance. So ingrained in our mind, that we can no longer look objectively reality.” (Mediatech, 2011)

Much research is being made to investigate our needs and it seems that its a circle that creates new demands to be satisfied. The one in which we live is recognized as a sophisticated humanity in whicha Brand’s Ability to Speak to Women and Men”.(Cohen H., 2011)

Maybe it is better to start from the scratch and live without stereotypes from birth. Designers shouldn’t focus on gender design stereotypes. Our mind has to be created with our imagination through free and simple shapes. We are such blind people that being the toy of marketing seems to be normality.


Cohen, H. (2011). 72 Marketing Definitions – Heidi Cohen. [online] Heidi Cohen. Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2014].

Fondazione Internazionale Menarini, (2013). Dopo 325 anni il padre dell’Impressionismo ripropone in chiave contemporanea la Venere d’Urbino e stavolta le toglie la maschera, il risultato è uno scandalo. Tiziano e Manet un confronto al femminile, pp.1,2.

Mediatech, (2011). Pubblicità/ Irina Shayk con i boxer da uomo fa discutere. Di’ la tua. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2014].

The dieline, (2014). Student Spotlight: Cornish College of the Arts, Condom Packaging Project. [online] The Dieline. Available at: [Accessed 4 Jan. 2015].


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