The Andro Chair, designing the unthinkable: Men’s right to women’s experience in gynaecology

Cristine Sundbom, Anne-Christine Hertz, Karin Ehrnberger, Emma Börjesson


In this project we have explored how design may be used as a critical and creative tool for discussing how design is gendered in the contemporary gynaecology chair examination in Sweden. The aim of our design concept is to uncover the veiled gender norms in this problem area and discuss its consequenses for women. Our method to do so includes swopping the gender context (Ehrnberger, et al. 2012), which is used to make visible the accepted hidden norms in this specific case. By doing so we wanted to explore if the same situation would be accepted if applied to men. We used the results of our conducted interviews together with related previous research (Wijma, 1998a&b), which reveals that the majority of women have traumatic experiences of the gynecology chair. The empirical findings was applied to our design concept, using the connotations of the existing gynaecology chair to design the male counterpart; the Andro Chair. The women we interviewed experienced the gynaecology chair as “cold”, ”hard”, and even as ”torture”. We designed the
Andro-Chair to communicate these experiences and not to solve a problem. The initial reactions on our design concept points towards a great potential in using design to uncover and discuss this particular problem, since the chair for men is not taken for granted and accepted through hidden norms like the gynaecology chair is for women.

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