• Warped: Demographic Disparities Woven in Design

    Anna Ruth Gatlin (see profile)
    Learning and scholarship, Research, Textile fabrics, Pillows
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    In interior design, representation matters. Designers of space matters, since intentionally or not, designers cultivate space for their own culture and subconscious cultural biases (Heazlewood, 2017). 79% of all interior designers in the US are female and 83.9% are White (Zippia, 2022), a significant deviation from national demographics, where 57.8% are White and 50.52% female (United States Census Bureau, 2020). There has been no significant shift towards inclusion and diversity in interior design education: within the author’s program, 91% of the students are white females. The remaining 9% represents everyone else. Textiles have also been used as representation for thousands of years. Humans have used textiles to visually sort themselves into identifiable groups. This creative scholarship work is grounded historically in the use of decorative objects as instruments of communication; this set of pillows uses the medium of textiles to juxtapose objects made for comfort with data that creates discomfort. The historically deep roots of woven textiles to visually represent the aforementioned demographic data make the viewer uncomfortable with the disparity of who is being represented in space. Each pillow was hand-woven on a lap-loom using 26 different yarns in the weave ranging from acrylic to silk; and one wool yarn creates the weft. The 26 yarns vary in fiber, weight, and texture; the one yarn is homogenous. The pillows were constructed by a combination of hand- and machine-sewing. The two pillows represent an underlying disparity. Pillow One: 91% white females (coral yarn) 9% other (multi-color yarn) to reflect demographics of students in the author’s academic program. Pillow Two: 31% white females (coral yarn) 69% other (multicolor yarn) to reflect demographics of the 2020 US Census. The people designing our spaces don’t look the same as the people living, working, and recreating in those spaces.
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    2 weeks ago
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