Thinking About Sex: Thought-provoking discussion on gender and design to be held at CES in Las Vegas

  • Women designers challenge consumer electronics industry to get in touch with their 'feminine side' 
  • Manufacturers missing big business opportunity by not addressing women's unique technology needs and desires
  • No more "shrink and pink" – new strategies on designing for women while creating products that appeal to a wide audience
  • High resolution image available here

New York, US – 12th December, 2008 – The Femme Den of Smart Design, one of the world's leading consumer product design firms, will be presenting their ground-breaking research on gender and design during a panel discussion at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Friday 9th January. Two of Femme Den's designers, Erica Eden and Agnete Enga, will be joined by Linda Tischler, Senior Writer at Fast Company, to present a new way of thinking about design from a woman’s perspective. The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), through their ongoing partnership with the Consumer Electronic Association (CEA), is sponsoring the panel.
According to a recent report by the CEA, only one per cent of women reported that consumer electronics manufacturers consider their needs. Erica Eden, one of the founders of the Femme Den, explains: "Women represent the world's third largest economy, and buy or influence 80 per cent of all purchases of goods and services. The women's market is a huge business opportunity, but CE companies aren't connecting with their real needs. We hope to change that."
Based on extensive research with both women and men, the Femme Den has concluded that the consumer electronics industry needs to get in touch with its feminine side if it wants to reach the untapped, under-served female audience. For years, the latest, greatest technologies have driven product design, but that approach forces users to adapt and change their habits and daily routines. These devices are often male-oriented, overloaded with features, and reflect a history of engineering-driven styling.
The Femme Den's fundamental premise is that technology needs to serve people, not the other way around – especially for women. Overwhelmingly, a woman wants technology to solve her and her families' real problems with easy, flexible, and well-designed products. They are turned off by products that are feature-rich but don't accommodate their real needs and fit into their lives in a holistic way.
Agnete Enga, another founder of Femme Den, says: "The biggest mistake we have seen is treating women like a special interest group with only post-design considerations, like colour and finish. We call this the 'shrink it and pink it' approach – and it's offensive to most women."
But how do you really connect with women? Do solutions inspired by women's needs satisfy both sexes? Does understanding these needs create more meaningful products for everyone? How do these insights impact the bottom line? The Femme Den has developed several key insights – unifying the vision, understanding the target user and incorporating 'warmer' values – that will help CE companies connect with women – and maybe everyone else at the same time.
The Femme Den's session is part of the "Issues and Attitudes" track at CES and will take place on January 9, 2009 at 3:00pm in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Centre. More information on the session can be found here.
CES is the pre-eminent consumer electronics event in the world. The 2009 convention will be held on January 8-11 in Las Vegas, NV. For more information, visit
About Industrial Design and IDSA
Industrial designers determine the form, use features and interaction qualities of manufactured products, packaging and digital media systems. They study people at work, at home and in motion to create satisfying experiences with products from the kitchen and the office to the hospital and the warehouse, shaping these to fit their customers and to make effective use of industrial processes. In this way, industrial designers have a quiet but profound presence in almost everything people encounter during the day.
IDSA is the voice of industrial design, committed to advancing the profession through education, information, community and advocacy. (

About Smart Design and Femme Den
Smart Design has been turning insight and innovation into successful consumer experiences for over 25 years. The company's approach integrates product development, interactive experiences, brand communication, and strategic insights to ensure winning design solutions. From its pioneering Universal Design collaboration with OXO International, developing its renowned line of kitchen tools, to its work with leading multi-national companies including HP, Microsoft, Lexar and Acer, developing user-friendly electronics and 'humanised' technology, Smart Design creates products that truly connect with the consumer. Smart Design has offices in New York, San Francisco and Barcelona. (
The Femme Den is an internal movement at Smart Design dedicated to studying gender through design. Through independent research and expertise they enable clients to gain a deeper understanding of how men and women approach products and experiences. They believe that designing with ideas and methodologies that appeal to women, designers can devise solutions that are more appealing to everyone. The Femme Den was founded 3 years ago by designers Agnete Enga (Norway), Gina Reimann (U.K), Erica Eden (U.S.A) and Yvonne Lin (U.S.A). (
For more information please contact:
Thomas Isaacson
Tel: +1 212 784 4052

Manuela Whittaker
The PressOffice – PR for Smart Design
Tel: +44(0)1780 721433

Aldo deJong
European Office Contact
Tel: +34 935 846 615

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