A Woman’s Work

A symposium on the roles, influence and visibility of female practitioners today


  • Fri 18.01.2019, 9:30-17:00 Uhr
  • Japanisches Palais
  • Working language: English


Curated by Foreign Legion, Vera Sacchetti and Matylda Krzykowski, A Woman's Work is a symposium organized as a complement to the "Against Invisibility" exhibition, which focuses on the forgotten stories of the women of the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau. Taking the exhibition as a starting point, A Woman’s Work examines the contemporary, in order to shed light on the invisibility of the female practitioner as it continues to exist today.

A Woman’s Work. A symposium on the roles, influence and visibility of female practitioners today

Structured in three parts – 'Advocates of History', 'Enablers of Visibility' and 'Dismantlers of Existing Conditions' – the symposium brings together a wide range of practitioners, scholars, writers, critics and curators based in different parts of Europe, aiming to offer transversal, multigenerational and diverse perspectives on the present and the future of female practice.

Throughout the course of one day, conversations will take place in a variety of formats, creating platforms for exchange and connection. A Woman’s Work aims to bring women in and around design, art and architecture to the fore, advocating for their visibility to become a permanent condition.


Registration (open until 17th January 2019)

[Translate to English:] images


  • 9:30 – Registration and Coffee
  • 10:15 – Introductory Remarks
    Matylda Krzykowski and Vera Sacchetti, Foreign Legion
  • 10:30 – Introduction to “Against Invisibility”
    Klara Němečková, Curator, Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden
  • 10:45 – Part 1 – Advocates of History
    “Women have always been there”, critic Alexandra Lange has recently noted, “but we have overlooked their contributions.” If design history has been skewed from the start – given the perspective of those who wrote it in the first place – what can be done to rediscover women designers? Advocates of History looks at recent examples of revisited design history, in exhibitions, books and events, that seek to celebrate female practitioners and their contributions to the fields of design and architecture.
  • Annika Frye, designer and design researcher
    Thomas Geisler, Director, Werkraum Bregenzerwald
    Libby Sellers, Design historian, consultant and author of Women Design
  • 12:00 – Lunch Break
  • 12:45 – Part 2 – Enablers of Visibility
    It is not enough that female practitioners do the work – it is also up to those in positions of power to bring their work to the spotlight. How can we make sure that the histories of these designers are written, talked about, broadcast? And how can they be transported from one generation to the next? Enablers of Visibility examines the roles of museums, schools, critics, journalists, and even social media in disseminating the stories of women designers.
    Katrin Greiling, Designer and teacher, founder of Studio Greiling
    Alice Rawsthorn, Design critic and author of Design as an Attitude

    Antje Stahl, Journalist and editor, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
  • 14:15 – Ritual of Self-Empowerment
    Pinar Demirdag, Practitioner and founder Pinar & Viola
  • 14:30 – Part 3 – Dismantlers of Existing Conditions Even while pushing for the visibility of the female practitioner, we often fail to recognize our own bias and ingrained behaviours. How can we create frameworks for the visibility of women designers without replicating the same Eurocentric stereotypes, and without overlooking different perspectives and geographies? Dismantlers of Existing Conditions discusses strategies for shifting our perspective, and that of our students, our audiences, and our establishment.
    Danah Abdulla, Designer, researcher and educator, Brunel University London and Decolonising Design research group
    Christoph Knoth, Graphic designer, web developer and professor HFBK Hamburg
    Sarah Owens, Professor of Visual Communication at Zurich University of the Arts
  • 15.45 – Roundup and Concluding Remarks
    Tulga Beyerle, Director, Museums für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
    Matylda Krzykowski and Vera Sacchetti, Foreign Legion
  • 17:00 – Reception

[Translate to English:] Quote

No longer need women to navigate the design profession without role models to look up to and be inspired by. No longer have women to conform to any predefined career orientation, designing their paths in whichever way they deem best. And because, in recent years more than ever, women in design can find inspiring examples all around them, the practitioner of today should not have to quiet down their voice, hush away their presence, hide their influence.

And yet, it is this reclaiming that is the biggest challenge, one that must take most of our attention right now: finding and using our own voices in design, loud and clear.

To say things such as:
Yes, I take that opportunity.
Yes, allow me to access that platform.
Yes, give me that job (and pay me as much as you would a man).
Yes, represent and sell my work (for the same price as you will sell a work made by a man).
Yes, this is obvious, necessary, and the only way I will work for you, with you, alongside you.

Excerpt from the essay “A Woman’s Work, or, steps towards the yin revolution”, by Vera Sacchetti and Matylda Krzykowski, in the exhibition catalogue of Gegen die Unsichtbarkeit

Speakers biographies

Danah Abdulla is a designer, researcher and educator. She is Senior Lecturer in Communication Design at Brunel University London; founding member of the Decolonising Design research group, and Creative Director and Editor of Kalimat Magazine. She has a PhD in Design from Goldsmiths, University of London.

speakers website

Pinar Demirdag is a one half of the artist duo Pinar&Viola. Their practice resides in the junction of art, design, fashion, personal development and societal issues. They do collaborations with world leading brands like Google, Ikea, Nike and regularly receive invitations to take part in international exhibitions.

speakers website

Annika Frye is a German designer and design researcher. Working in between practice and theory, her current research is on interfaces as hybrid artifacts between digital and analogue. She holds a professorship in design science and research at Muthesius Academy of Arts in Kiel, Germany.

speaker's website

Thomas Geisler is director of the Werkraum Bregenzerwald. He has curated exhibitions for the Vienna Biennale, London Design Biennale, Vitra Design Museum, and many others. He was curator and head of the Design Collection at the MAK Vienna and is co-founder of Vienna Design Week. In July 2019, he will become director of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Dresden.

Katrin Greiling is founder of Studio Greiling, a Stockholm-conceived Berlin-based office dedicated to furniture design, interior architecture and photography. Combining these mediums provides Greiling a wide perspective and allows her to embrace projects from different angles, notable as well in her teachings as professor for product design.

speakers website

Christoph Knoth is a graphic designer, web developer and professor for Digitale Grafik at the art university HFBK Hamburg. In 2011 he founded the studio Knoth & Renner together with Konrad Renner. They mainly work in the field of digital culture.

speakers website

Sarah Owens is Professor of Visual Communication at Zurich University of the Arts. She is a graduate of the University of Reading and the Royal College of Art in London. Her research and writing focus on the social foundations of design.

speakers website

Alice Rawsthorn is an award-winning design critic and author of Design as an Attitude. She is chair of trustees of The Hepworth Wakefield and Chisenhale Gallery. A founding member of the Writers for Liberty human rights campaign to champion, Alice was awarded an OBE for services to design and the arts.

speakers website

Libby Sellers is a design historian, consultant and author of Women Design – a focus on women in design from the last two centuries. She was curator at London’s Design Museum and founder-director of one of London’s leading commercial galleries. In 2014 she was honoured by the Women of the Year awards as a Woman of Achievement in the Arts.

 speakers website

Antje Stahl is a journalist with training in art history, philosophy and literature from Humboldt University Berlin, Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris, and New York University. She worked as an editor for Monopol Magazine and Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and was recently awarded the Michael Athen Award for criticism.

[Translate to English:] Teaser

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[Translate to English:] Teaser - Against Invisibility – Women Designers at the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau 1898 to 1938
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