When major retailer John Lewis announced they were no longer going to have separate clothing sections for boys and girls, opting instead for a single “Boys and Girls” section, I wasn’t surprised.
Much has been discussed about the social impact of gender stereotyping and how it influences human behaviour. This has started to impact our society in real ways – for example, some schools have decided to opt for gender-neutral uniforms so that boys and girls feel equally comfortable participating in the same activities.
I think this gender-neutral trend will continue to gather momentum in the future. I’ve certainly noticed a change in the language of parents who are making gender-neutral design requests. Previously, requests from clients to design gender-neutral nurseries and playrooms were because they wanted the rooms to be relevant for more than one child. Recent requests, however, tend to be more considered and parents are making a conscious effort to allow their children to explore and discover the world without the gender-typical constraints of “blue is for boys and pink is for girls.” These parents talk about wanting to encourage their girls to be physically active, explore and be inspired by nature. At the same time, they want to encourage their boys to play with dolls to develop their caring side.
Another reason that parents want gender-neutral bedrooms is that they too will be spending time in these rooms and want to feel comfortable in them. This means more and more bedrooms are being created as a continuation of the overall identity of the home rather than independent, disjointed areas. They are becoming spaces that strike a wonderful balance between sophistication, practicality and fairy tale-like charm.
Suppliers seem to be well ahead of this trend and designers are not limited in choice for gender-neutral fabrics, wallpapers, furniture and accessories. The following are some of my favourite designs which can work well in a gender-neutral bedroom. All three are different in mood, colour and look:
· Pierre Frey’s “Nubem” wallpaper mural designed by Benjamin Graindorge has a beautiful texture and the cloud theme in soft colours is perfect for a nursery. Thanks to its scale, it is ideal to create a feature out of one wall
· Cole and Son’s “Woods and Stars” from their Whimsical collection is available in different colours and themes, such as “Woods and Pears.” I love the one with the cream background as its easily suited for a mostly monochrome space, meaning you can then add layers of colour if desired
· Manuel Canovas’ “L’Envol” is available as fabric and wallpaper. It is the bolder of the three designs, and while it is available in a blue and pink colourway, my favourite is the multicoloured version - it’s definitely one for the dreamers and adventurers!
As a designer, what do you think should be taken into consideration when designing a gender-neutral bedroom?
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