Currently, I’m enrolled in an evening class at the School of Visual Arts in New York called “The Feeling of Design.” The goal of the course is to analyze and construct specific feelings, notions and genres that design can impose on the viewer. In one of my class sessions, my professor, Sue Walsh of Milton Glaser Inc., juxtaposed the NBA and WNBA logos, which, she emphasized, are vastly different in look and feel.
It is almost comical how overtly “feminine” the women’s league is portrayed compared to the men’s. It would make any female designer want to immediately start the redesign process. Everything from the fluid lines, to the pastel colors, to the reference to glitter and sparkles, to using names like “Dream” and “Mystics,” enforces the once-accepted idea that women are more delicate and reserved than men.
Conversely, the men’s logos suggest speed, athleticism and intimidation, with their use of line, color and animal symbolism.
While it is clear that design has the power to enforce stereotypes, it’s important to remember that it also has the power to change them. As designers, we must constantly reference visual history to achieve a certain feeling that connects to our target audience, but it is in that process of transforming something old into something new that we can begin to adjust how people view the world.