Gynarchy

Chairs are shaped after our bodies while also affecting our bodies’ posture. They can even position us in a social hierarchy. A radical rethinking of the gynaecological examination.

Gynarchy – An entity ruled by a woman or women

Photo: Linus Fridén

 

Detail of un{common}, photo: Linus Fridén

The gynaecology chair was developed during the 19th century, modern medicine’s heyday. This was even a time where women started to claim greater social and political rights and a strong need to biologically legitimise men’s control over women arose. The gynaecology chair’s structural design has hardly been changed in 150 years. It is a central symbol for the examination and can for women be associated with feelings of exposure or giving up the right to your own body. This may lead to future appointments being postponed or completely avoided.

Women’s experience of the gynaecological examination
Colours and materials – patient associations
Patient workshops with a toolkit developed for the project

My design proposal may be interpreted as a common lounge chair – or a very uncommon gynaecology chair. It provokes the question whether choices in material and shape always find their origin in functionality and production methods, or rather in a non-questioning of traditions and norms.

Lounge chair un{common} is breaking norms in medical equipment, in a time where society and the media have started to highlight that it is women’s right to have ownership over their own bodies. Designed objects that are physical interaction points with women’s bodies can be seen as symbols for the way society believes that women should be treated.

The organic shell of the chair offers integrity and allows for a relaxed examination. The wide armrests let women take up a dominant stance within the room and without restraining stirrups, they can take power over the situation and their bodies.

It is a lounge chair that aims to inspire discussion about traditions in healthcare and not at least in medical design. un{common} has been developed together with and for those who traditionally were not allowed to participate in the design of objects that were used on their bodies: women.