Larissa Holaschke | ZHdK.ch
Our first conversation was with Larissa Holaschke, a teaching assistant and research associate at the Master Design specialization “Trends & Identity”, Department of Design at Zurich University of the Arts ( ZHdK ). She studied journalism and communication sciences, political science, and philosophy. Moreover, she completed her Master of Design in the specialization “Event” at the ZHdK. In 2017, she initiated the project” Gender Salon”, a research and event format for an applied examination of gender in design.
We have touched majorly 2 points through our talk: First, we talked about intersectionality by looking at our positions. As designers, if we do projects that touch on the topic of intersectional feminist, the primary and most crucial point is for us to think and reflect on our identity as designers: Who are we? Knowing that we cannot be “neutral”, we need to encourage openness by seeing and acknowledging our own biases, identifying ourselves and asking key questions by embracing diversity. Are we majority or minority? Under what circumstances does the role switch?
Second, Larissa also described how she initiated the Gender Salon project. After completing her master’s project “Lipstick Tehran”, which dealt with Iranian women’s material protest culture, she built on this foundation and began to explore gendered product design by questioning how and why certain products are designed? As well as questioning the designer themselves: “What is the role played by the designer?” She started the project in the form of a research space or a workshop. By inviting guest speakers to talk about feminist topics, which she also elaborated on how to make the topic less alien and easier to talk about. For the purpose of opening up a conversation, she mentioned a specific workshop in the “Gender Salon” where participants sit in a circle surrounded by various media or tools for them to access and reflect on. The session encouraged inclusivity and ensured that everyone’s voice was heard, and the discussion touched on reliability, and sensibility to think about gender-sensitive design.