Gender Design: Olivia Daigenault Deschênes
Born in Montreal, Olivia Daigenault Deschênes graduated from the Master of Architecture at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada in 2018 and currently works as an intern architect in Montreal. She holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Montreal (2015) and completed a semester abroad in 2017 at Lund University, Sweden.
Olivia Daigenault Deschênes is most interested in interdisciplinary practice of design, at the intersection of art, architecture and critical thinking. Passionate about gender studies and feminist theories, Olivia seeks to understand multiple ways of doing feminism in architecture and design. In her practice, she explores architectural design methods as potential tools for activism and critical feminist knowledge.
In fall 2018, Olivia Daigenault Deschênes was invited to join the first Residency by the HfG-Archiv Ulm, Stiftung Hochschule für Gestaltung HfG Ulm and Prof. Dr. em. Uta Brandes, theme specific jury member.
“Show me how you eat and I will tell you who you are”:
What does it say about us, how we eat and with what we eat? Apart from the fact that there are various table cultures in the world, eating is an activity with which we ‘perform’ social roles, especially gender roles.
Inspired by the daily lunch in the former Ulm School of Design canteen and viewing it from a feminist-critical perspective, Olivia Daigneault Deschênes studied the photographic collections and archival material in relation to the subjects of seating and cutlery design, as well as the architecture of the Bill canteen. The results of her investigations are studies, performances, drafts and models of applied design research, and not functional design solutions – with regard to gender-specific role behaviour, they reveal, culminate in, and even caricature stereotypical expectations. The results were presented in the special exhibition “Nicht mein Ding – Gender im Design” at the HfG-Archiv.
“Living and working at the HfG-Ulm complex for three months allowed me to pursuit my reflection on feminism and architecture in an inspiring environment. Interested in developing ways to use design to unfold manifestations of patriarchy in the everyday life, I decided to focus on eating and its relation to gender. I was most inspired by Max Bill’s design of la Mensa. My project ‘Show me how you eat, I tell you who you are’ explores critical thinking and performance as design methods towards a feminist critical practice.” Olivia Daigneault Deschênes