Why Spaces Shouldn't Be Described as "Masculine" or "Feminine"

What is the most misused word in the world of architectural writing? Could it be "iconic"? What about "innovative"? The staff over at Curbed have a nomination: referring to spaces as either "masculine" or "feminine." In an op-ed published last month, they write that "the people who write about decor and design need to stop describing spaces with gendered terms," arguing: "Let's say two spaces were written up in a decor blog, and one was described as masculine, and the other feminine. Which would have white walls? Which would have raw concrete floors? ... If these have fairly easy answers, it's because we're in the realm of stereotype."

Why Spaces Shouldn't Be Described as "Masculine" or "Feminine" - Image 2 of 2
Lowe Campbell Ewald Headquarters by Neumann/Smith Architecture; "masculine," naturally. Image © Justin Maconochie

Boiling their argument down as far as possible, they add: "If spareness and raw architecture are "masculine," then we're essentially saying that traditionally "feminine" decorating is frivolous. Suddenly those who associate themselves with femininity become a little less essential and a little less relevant."

The discussion has far-reaching ramifications. For example, what does it mean when offices, where there is little room for frills and frivolity, are more likely to be described as "masculine" buildings? And are we comfortable with the idea that the word "feminine" is largely used to describe, homes, fashion stores and beauty salons? "Gendered design writing is lazily offensive," concludes Curbed. "But more to the point, it's offensively lazy. We can do better." Read the article in full here.

Image of bedroom via Shutterstock.

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Cite: Rory Stott. "Why Spaces Shouldn't Be Described as "Masculine" or "Feminine"" 04 Jan 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/583790/why-spaces-shouldn-t-be-described-as-masculine-or-feminine> ISSN 0719-8884

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