Contemporary Design

We Make Effort. Reflections on feminism, togetherness and practicing in the context of design by Aliisa Talja


We Make Effort enquires into personal experiences of aiming to practice feminism collectively in the context of design. The thesis stems from a place in time colored by a sense of societal urgency, value contradictions with practicing as a designer, and not quite knowing how to negotiate them. It unfolds some personal, professional and political meanings of engaging with feminist theory and collectivity, as well as the consequent shifts in conceiving practice in the field of design. 

The object of study is the activity of Designer as Feminist (DaF)–a Helsinki-based group of five, which the author herself is part of. The research material consists of the group member’s reflections on events within two years of collective practice. In the thesis experiences of practicing are brought into dialogue with feminist theory, reflected on, analysed, and interpreted from one group member’s perspective. As a result, engaging with feminist theory and collectivity is depicted as personal growth, relational work and conceptual as well as practical deconstruction, which may be transformative in thinking and organising design.

“In this thesis I sought to better understand some meanings of the extra curricular, and seemingly extra professional, feminist activity I am part of. Additionally, my choice of topic stemmed from the urge to learn more about topics, such as feminist theory, collectivity, and politics of design practice which weren’t part of the programme curriculum during my studies. Finally, a key motivation of this thesis was, and still is, to encourage design students and designers to reflect on what moves them, and to try to put that in the center of their choices and actions in the field of design.”

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