At 11:15 AM -0400 9/5/01, Hrant H Papazian wrote:
>I agree that there aren't "signs" (the way we seem to
>be using the word), but nonetheless: curvy = feminine.
>Now, this association is rarely used in graphic design
>(at least not consciously), but one point is that it
This is PRECISELY the kind of association that graphic designers do use consciously. In our culture there is definitely a difference between designing for women than designing for men -- just look at the packaging graphics on "feminine products" if you want examples.
Many of the signifiers used to appeal to women (pastel colors, curvy graphics, etc) are pretty hokey and formalized, but they apparently work -- or designers wouldn't keep using them.
It is when you talk about essentials or absolutes that you lose me. There ARE probably some differences between the ways that women's and men's brains work, but gender differences are so overlaid with piles of cultural conditioning and historical association that it is almost impossible to separate the biological from the social.
It may be useful for designers of women's products to know that one typeface seems more "feminine" than another, but it is quite another thing to declare that any type style is *essentially* feminine or masculine.
I think it may also be useful to think of type comparisons in these sort of ways (whether it be boys/girls or hedgehog/fox) to help find interesting qualities of contrast in typography beyond the usual serif/sans-serif which is so widely used. You could also categorize typefaces as cool or hot, strong or weak, old or new, fast or slow, liquid or solid -- all potentially interesting sources of contrast in design.