Summary in english

What does the design industry mean to all of those who work in it? That is the main questions we decided to investigate to be able to answer. To do that we conducted a study of the working situation for designers based on diversity and equality. And what we found was an industry, divided by gender, that discriminates against age and ethnicity and is characterised by a power elite with similar background, values and aesthetic consensus.

Before our studies, there had never before been proper research about working conditions and power structures within the design area. We wanted to study the active designers’ perspectives on these matters as well as inclusion and exclusion within the profession. We took help from researchers and democracy experts to analyse our data and to get an overview of the industry.

 

OMFORMA NGO

In connection to the realise of our study, we started Omforma nonprofit organisation, that aims to investigate and develop the conditions in the design area. Our work involves politics, research and conversations, focusing on making people’s working life in the design industry more feminist, anti-racist, intersectional and inclusive. Omforma wants to bring about social change for the profession, and ultimately for the users of the products that are the result of our practice.

The work of Omforma (English translation: Reform), targets designers, politicians, companies, organisations and institutions that work within the design field. The association is also addressed to others who want to know how structures of power can affect a small industry or business.

Right now Omforma works with the theme Power. With different methods we observe power, what it looks like, who has it, how one takes it and what power can useful for. Quite a few of our events are public so we hope we get an opportunity to meet!

We want to collaborate, become more active, discuss and learn from each other and arrange events that help to strengthen designers and work for a diversity of people within the industry. Do you want to become a member? Have questions about our work? An idea of a project you could do within our organisation?

Talk, write, text us, you find our contact information here

 

OMFORMA SEMINARES, WORKSHOPS AND OPEN CALL

Omforma will appear in various events during the year, but the biggest individual happening will take place in the winter of 2018. Omforma will host seminars and workshops inviting all parts of the design field to share experiences and create new knowledge together. In addition, we’re opening an exhibition that embodies the Omforma’s study, and highlights groundbreaking practices and inspirational examples. In order to get as many perspectives as possible, we will curate part of the exhibition and part of it is chosen by a jury following an open call we just finished. Thanks everyone who applied! The exhibition and seminars will take place at Malmö Form/Design Center.

 

THE OMFORMA MANIFESTO

We want
equal opportunities for all practitioners regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, functional variation, gender identity/-belonging, or religion. We want equal opportunities in all areas: assignments, employments, exhibitions, competitions, scholarships or project grants.

We want
to be able to make a living from our profession without an expectation of working unpaid for several years.

 

TO THE POLITICIANS

We want
design politics created for the special conditions of the industry, conditions that differ both from other cultural areas and from the business world: politics that can help the design industry out of the locked structures that Omforma has found. Politics that highlight different practitioners on equal terms.

We want
the public to invest in innovative design. Knowledge-intensive activities such as design require large efforts and often leads to the development of products or ideas that benefits  a wider community rather than just individual companies. It is in the general interest to develop design ideas, and part of the development should therefore be financed by the community. This would give us a more vital design industry, and also has the potential to enable a larger diversification among the designers.

We want
design to be highlighted and gender-divided statistics in all public areas of the design industry: exhibitions, assignments, purchases, scholarships and grants,as well as the composition of employees. We also want to see the ability to define oneself in the statistics on the basis of age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, functional variation and gender identity/-belonging.

We want
recurring contests with clear assignments, where participants submit their contributions anonymously.

 

TO THE COMPANIES

We want
to invite companies to challenge themselves, become better employers and more creative customers. The companies have a lot to gain both economically and in profiling if they look beyond their comfort zone. When an organization discriminates, they miss out on the best candidate for the job; therefore active work for equal rights and opportunities have the potential to create values for the company. This generates increased productivity, which leads to increased income in relation to the cost of the work. In addition, the increased matching leads to higher quality that can be detected in more profits. In other words, there are many reasons for creating workplaces where diversity is taken seriously.

We want
companies to be clear about who has the power and transparent about how the decisions are taken in the design process. Who decides what’s going into production? Who is hiring?

We want
companies to count: How large a proportion of your employees/freelancers are women? How big is the foreign background? Who gets to draw series of objects and who gets commissioned for single products only? What does the assembly say about you as a company and how can you become more inclusive? Identify what you see as the biggest problem for your company from an inclusion perspective. What can you do about it? Picture you view on what quality and competence look like. Look at what positions your employees have, and for example, who gets project manager responsibility or meet customers. Set up concrete goals that the entire company cooperates to fulfill, from the management and among all employees.

We want
companies to break patterns: Whom does the company usually highlight in their marketing? Are you following the design industry’s pattern of forwarding men and giving them more assignments? Does your company let men in, that is not specialized in your area, but not women or specialists from other compartments? Set up a strategy for how designer that your company has given less space, can be more visible and get more assignments. Put up concrete goals that the entire company collaborates on, from management and among all employees.

 

TO THE INSTITUTIONS

We want
design to be seen in the statistics as a profession and we want it to be possible to count within the profession. We want both public and private institutions to keep statistics on exhibition space, commissions, and number of solo exhibitions versus group exhibitions.

 

TO THE DESIGN ORGANIZATIONS

We want
designers to be strengthened as a group among themselves and in relation to their employers. To be able to enforce their rights on a basic level and in order for there to be somewhere to turn when they are exposed to discrimination.

We want
the knowledge designers possess to be taken seriously. No designer should be expected to work for free without a fair compensation for the worked hours and no design department should be called “the department of cut and paste”.

We want
to invite all design organizations and design companies to achieve a deepening and understanding of the designers’ situation, where not all practitioners work on equal terms.

We want
one or more design organizations to together support designers legally and work with issues such as compensation, agreements and equal treatment, in a union.

We want
the MU*-barometer to be expanded to reveal how equal and diversified the institutions are.

 

TO THE PRACTITIONERS

We want
designers to become stronger among themselves and better at supporting and including each other. To look outside your usual circle to meet new contacts or to seek out those who have contacts and knowledge you can be helped by. It contributes to a closer network between designers, increases knowledge, conversation and creates new opportunities.

We want
you to be open and to help each other. Show other designers what you know about marketing, contracts, financing et cetera. Talk to each other about compensations, sketch fees, benefits and rights.

*(Read more about the MU-agreement between the government and several art and design organisations here: www.kro.se/sites/default/files/MU_eng_0.pdf )

 

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