Melanie Levick-Parkin

Gender & Design


Output: Other

This body of work investigates how design research informed by feminist theory and philosophy can facilitate future design ontologies conceived beyond normative patriarchal and capitalist value constructs.
Gendered power relations in design determine who has agency within a professional disciplinary context and within the public realm in terms of meaning making and form giving.

These outputs examine how contemporary western design ontology is constructed, why this affects conceptions of female creative practice and how this impacts women’s lives. Guided by feminist theory, they discuss accounts of women’s lived experience in UK design industry, and question broader issues of gender exclusion and the need to make embodied values in design visible to bring about change.

Levick-Parkin’s research deployed design anthropological approaches, finding that paying close attention to women’s making practices can facilitate discussions of ontology and insights within broader critical frameworks. Putting feminist philosophy and design critique into conversation, these insights conceptually model potential transformations of how both female and non-waged creative labour might be valued in future post-capitalist economic systems. Further analysis critiques how visual and material voice in the public realm is perceived based on gender, and discusses how normative identity positions are re-worked within women’s different making practices. By putting the micro of female making practice into the macro of gender politics, an analytic discourse is developed informed by ethnographic vignettes. Reflections on Cartesian thought and material feminist philosophy closely analyse how conceptions of immanence have implications for ontological concepts of agency.

Data from a speculative design project is contextualised by feminist contestations and utopianism
in order to surface positionality and foundational ethics in design practice and pedagogy. Overarching themes of space, time and materiality draw design’s future directed temporality into the gaze of a speculative feminist lens in order to trouble design’s material, theoretical and philosophical responsibilities.

Research Output

This collection of images displays the outputs from this project. Find out more details in the full case study below.

Research Method

An overview of how this body of work was created and incrementally built, framed by Design Anthropology, using a mix of research methods including participant observation, co-making and semi-structured in-depth informal interviews, documented with ethnographic field notes, photography, film and visual analysis, supported by secondary research.

Key Methodologies:

Full Project Output

REF '21

To learn more about the output, methods and dissemination of this work, explore the full project submission.