(L-R) Ulrika Sundberg, Consul General of Sweden in India, Charlotte Lund –curator and art dealer, Indian fashion designer Kunal Rawal, Rahel Belatchew- Belatchew Architects, Cecilia Oldne- Visit Stockholm, Lotta Marlind – head of marketing from Teenage Engineering.
(L-R) Ulrika Sundberg, Consul General of Sweden in India, Charlotte Lund –curator and art dealer, Indian fashion designer Kunal Rawal, Rahel Belatchew- Belatchew Architects, Cecilia Oldne- Visit Stockholm, Lotta Marlind – head of marketing from Teenage Engineering.

Swedish Style Mumbai opened with a discussion on ‘The Feminine Form’

The two-day festival commenced on June 4th, with a discourse on the influence of feminine perspectives on design

‘The Feminine Form’ – A conversation on the presence and impact of women in design-oriented fields, headlined the Swedish lifestyle festival held at Famous Studio in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, on June 4th and 5th, 2019.

The illustrious panel comprised Charlotte Lund –curator and art dealer, Rahel Belatchew- Belatchew Architects, Cecilia Oldne- Visit Stockholm and Lotta Marlind – head of marketing from Teenage Engineering, Sweden. Fashion designer Kunal Rawal represented the Indian perspective. The panel was moderated by Ulrika Sundberg, Consul General of Sweden in India.

The conversation centered on the experiences of these individuals, who have risen to the heights of success in their specific fields, which range from fashion and art to technology and architecture. Their anecdotes and views spoke of the cultural and market trends in both Sweden and India, exposing myriad similarities and differences as well as the evolutions brought about by increased exposure. Art and fashion, for instance, have always had a strong female voice. However, across occupations, this appreciation for feminine creativity generally halts at the boardroom door.

In the words of Sundberg, “Men disproportionately occupy the top tiers of the business in all areas despite women making up for majority of the consumer base. In Sweden, the shift to include more women in boardrooms has been impactful. Is that trend being replicated elsewhere?”

Swedish product design studio- Front, displayed their home accessories at the venue

The consensus reached was that the presence of women in the technical aspects of creative fields leads to an environment that is more genial yet practical, with a focus on sustainability, consumer satisfaction and improved labour conditions. This, in turn, allows for a segue into more diverse representation across races, age groups, religions, etc. as noted by Oldne.

Lund, who is a part of Stockholm’s first generation of gallerists, observed that while the number of female gallery owners and artists has increased in recent years, they have largely been accepted in the field. However, curators of museums and major exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale continues to be a male-dominated field.

Bringing architecture to the forefront, Belatchew stated that while built forms may not change, the inclusion of female architects and city planners leads to an urbanscape that is more inclusive and accessible for women, children, the elderly and the disabled. The currently restricted circulation of women in cities is a topic female urban planners focus on, leading to wider pedestrian pathways with greater access and lighting, for instance. Strong female representation is considered to be the norm in Swedish town planning. The sanctioning of a project, from conceptualisation to beginning construction, is a long-drawn-out process that spans years - but has sufficient female inputs in most Scandinavian countries. The advent of women in notoriously male-dominated spheres such as labourers in construction or as investors for developers, however, might radically alter the current landscape in terms of projects commissioned or labour conditions.

Speaking about her latest project - Twist, which aims at communal interaction, the architect says,” Twist incorporates a café, restaurant and conference room in an area that is located at the junction where the old city of Stockholm meets the new development.” A high-rise by Swedish standards, Twist is an illuminated 20-storeyed structure that is a contrast to the old, low-rise residential buildings right behind it. The design intent was to create a space where the two distinct portions of the city meet and connect. The form aims to invite pedestrians, enlivening the urbanscape.

The conversation was illuminaing, as it threw light on aspects of gender influence that are not generally talked about.

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