Design is Human
Jensen's A Basic Instinct is seating only for women. Photography courtesy Anna Aagaard Jensen.

MANSPREAD, women spread your legs for power & equity.

Danish designer and recent Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Anna Aagaarde Jensen's graduate project 'A BASIC INSTINCT' shows feminist views in wanting women to claim more real estate and power (like men do) when seating.

Whereas society still expects women to look, stand and sit like elegant ‘sculptures’, Anna Jensen has sculptured a context for a new ideal world; where women feel free to behave as men do.

"The chairs are for women only." —Anna Aagaard Jensen

A Basic Instinct by Anna Aagaarde Jensen. Photography courtesy Bernard McCoy.

These public seats are reserved for women only, encouraging them to claim their space in a way that comes naturally to the opposite sex: confidently leaning back, legs wide apart, and not worrying about what everybody else might think.

Aagaard Jensen studied a masters program in Contextual Design at DAE and choose chairs as a focus-study after observing how a male and a female guest on the late-night US TV program, The Jimmy Fallon Show, sat very differently on their chairs.

A Basic Instinct by Anna Aagaarde Jensen. Photography courtesy Bernard McCoy.

"They had the same amount of space, but they used it completely differently – the man with an open body language taking so much space and the women sitting so confined it almost looked uncomfortable," explained the designer.

The pink seats, coloured with the make-up women are ‘supposed to’ put on their faces, show provocative body language, with protruding legs, buttocks and even more. Their shape uplifts anyone seated on top, forcing them into a self-assured, ‘manspreading’ pose.

“I want to challenge the boundaries of conventions.” —Anna Aagaard Jensen

Anna Aagaard Jensen

For her graduation, Anna Aagaard Jensen has investigated how public postures of men and women reveal their unequal positions in society. Whereas men seem to claim space, women tend to do the opposite, as images show of public appearances. A Basic Instinct challenges the boundaries of conventions and proposes alternatives.

Our contemporary Western society is represented through images - constantly imposing on us and exposing us to standards and ideals. Contemporary ideals of women in power are for instance represented through the 2D images of celebrities, shaping the notion of what it means to become a woman, still showing us inherited standards of body and posture. Our body becomes a sculpted medium, that is created through the visual representation of others, layered, fragmented and only partially in our own control.

The project aims to challenge the boundaries of conventions, create alternatives and go against inherited standards, in order to claim and take over space. The objects encourage a more unconventional attitude in body language and posture through the act of sitting. By treating the female body as an object, an attitude is sculpted. By treating posture as a statement, an ambiguous woman is created, who is not afraid of her sexuality, nor of her power.

The statement chairs contain different layers, varying from their contrast in materiality to their outspoken and confronting appearance. They invite women to sit, lean back in a relaxed way, spread their legs seductively, and boldly take over space as the most natural thing to do.

What is Contextual Design?

Artistic talent, curiosity, in intuition for the Zeitgeist, a researching attitude, and the guts to ignore conventions. That's how Design Academy Eindhoven describes 'author designers' — the kind of designers DAE educates at the master department Contextual Design. Contextual Design curriculum intentions are on mentality, and attitude, rather than a strict area in design. It is a two year program.