I think I gave a negative impression about the clients who wanted to anthropomorphize my chair. We do it all the time to the objects in our lives and I would be the last person in the world to say it should not be done. What astonished me about the clients is that they (both) wanted me to say that the chair was one thing or another. That is a personal thing for the most part. I should have just said that it had been spayed.
Design does have a gender feel about it. Art deco is generally masculine, even those ladies with long sinuous legs that hold globes that are lamps. Art nouveau is much more feminine. Arts and crafts is masculine, so spare and muscular.
I will say, however, that great design transcends gender. It isn’t that the objects lose their gender feel, but that they enter into a scheme that creates a tension that is a melding of all aspects of a space from the carpet, the paint, the ceiling, the mouldings, the fabric, the furniture, etc. It isn’t easy, but when it is great it is astounding.
I was perusing the latest edition of ‘Architectural Digest’ and saw a chair being advertised that was boldly carved and gilded. If it has design antecedents, they are 18th century Italian, but this chair was less a design and more of an attempt to create that feel–masculine in this case–that someone might feel they had to buy for a man’s study. The chair design fails in my opinion because it would require everything in the room to cooperate with it. In fact, it is a hotel lobby piece or something that would be good on a stage.