Designer: Saana Hellsten
Project Type: Concept
Packaging Content: Bath
Location: New York, NY, USA
Our current society is very diverse and full of individuals who do not fit into the norms and stereotypes that society has given them. The border between male and female gender identities has become blurred and gender roles are less defined. Packaging design is our first interaction with a product and it currently perpetuates gender stereotypes. Designing gender-neutral packaging will encourage gender equality and will create a more sustainable world.
In the first project I am questioning the use of gendered visual language in communicating an attribute of a product. As an example I used regular household products because they are part of our everyday life and used by everyone through the society.
The gendered visual language carries heavy symbolism. The masculine design is often used in products, which have the same characteristics as (stereotypical) men. Strong and powerful products need to communicate their effectiveness and this is achieved by using masculine visual language. Soft and sensitive products instead use the feminine visual language. By using these stereotypes, we are enforcing the traditional stereotypes of men and women when we should do the opposite.
In the second project I chose personal hygiene: shaving products. Razors and shaving creams use highly gendered visual language. By the look of the product, you will know which razor is marketed towards women and which towards men. I questioned whether there is really a difference and through a study case I made, I learned that there in fact are physical differences in the razors for men and women. Though, these differences are related only to the function of the product, which isn’t always related to the gender of the consumer. For example, the blades are different for shaving beard than for shaving legs, but this doesn’t mean that they should be marketed only towards one gender.
My project takes away the gendered design from the razors and shaving gels. Like the razors, shaving gels have highly gendered design, although the purpose is usually the same; to make the skin smooth. The project focuses more on the function by giving the option to choose the blade and handle based on the purpose.