Does a contemporary design magazine need an editorial? Just one of the many questions we asked ourselves in the process of creating this issue. Other questions were: What will a design magazine look like in 2020? Who do we want to show? What can you say without hurting others? What is a good topic? Is “women and design” a good topic? Do we still need print? Do we still need magazines? What is design again? What is good design? And why should we of all people know that?
In her essay on page 68, font designer Charlotte Rohde writes “that design is so difficult because it is not about finding the right answer, but asking the right questions”. If that’s true, then we’re on the right track. We are a not lacking questions.
Clarity is expected from an editorial. The editor-in-chief takes readers by the hand and gently guides them through the contents and structures of the magazine. A recommendation here, a comment there, occasionally garnished with a socially critical comment. You don’t get that kind of clarity here today. The only clarity that we have at this point is the clear realisation that we too are fallible - like all people, all media, all contextualisations. By the way, all design is fallible. We therefore recommend that you do not accept anything that you read or see in this issue as irrefutable. Take note of the content we have selected, compare it, check it against and classify it. We want to be criticised, we even demand it. And to make that step as easy as possible, you will find our email addresses under this text.
“I am not a female designer. I am a designer”, reads a poster by New York designer Elena Miska, which she submitted for an exhibition on “Women and Design”. In doing so, it sums up our difficulties in approaching our issue of the same name. We shouldn’t have to talk about “women and design” anymore. Women make up half of the world’s population. And some women design. Nevertheless, as in most professional sectors, they are less visible than men. Only a small percentage of all creative and art directors in design agencies are female. The fact that in most cases studies are commissioned by companies with male decision-makers produces data gaps that are later reflected in the products and algorithms of – again mostly male – product designers and programmers. It quickly happens that female users are completely overlooked in the design process. The few female product designers, on the other hand, lack role models: when we asked Berlin designer Hanne Willmann in our interview about her female role models, only a few came to mind.
We chose this theme for the issue because we wanted to set a precedent for ourselves. We see ourselves as a design magazine for everyone. If we have managed to fill a magazine with talented women in design and great feminist design projects, then we should be able to do that in every next magazine. Thanks go to all those involved and those portrayed, our team and Stephan Ott and Katharina Zemljanskij for the good cooperation in the past year. We wish them all the best.
Anton Rahlwes and Nina Sieverding
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