Powerful Objects

This short project extended research into the gendering of objects and the influence that the industrial design of power tools has on male identity (earlier work can be seen in the project ‘Chaos of the Everyday’).

 

Contemporary discourse fuses these objects with a cultural understanding of masculinity, and what it means to be a male in society. Influenced by theorist Nina Power’s comment that “gendered objects are always…in drag”, I manipulated the material qualities of these devices in aims to subvert these conventions.

 

Dissected components of power tools were cast in silicone, wax and plastic to capture and contrast their ‘industrial design language’ – hard, sharp edges that characterise familiar associations of manual labor work suspended in fragile and amorphous bodies.

 

These objects were displayed in a mini exhibition at the Trades Hall Working Men’s Club, Harrogate. In this context, they became unusual props for conversation with the people who use them, with the potential to spark debate around design’s role in reinforcing gender norms.

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With thanks to the Trades Hall Working Men's Club.