The Women in Office Design (WOD) movement came about due to a realisation that women in the design, industry, interior design and architecture industries, in the field of workspaces had fewer opportunities to socialise and strengthen ties with other professionals, as they were, for a variety of reasons, less exposed to social events. This lack of networking opportunities as well as not valuing their own projects could hamper their professional careers.
Therefore, it was essential to get women in touch with other women, make new contacts and support each other in a world in which the value of both genders must be respected and promoted. Not just one.
Motivated by this belief, the interior designer Harsha Kotak, residing in London, created a network through the professional platform, LinkedIn. A network that started out in England but which has already spread to Europe, Asia and America, with over a thousand members, seeking to give visibility to female talent. In Spain it is led by Gracia Cardona, Director of Diario Design and Soledat Berbegal, Consultant and Brand Reputation Director at Actiu.
Share, inspire and achieve. These are the foundations of a movement that aspires to connect people from all over the world, to exchange perspectives and knowledge, to share experiences and to create and nurture stimulating and fruitful relationships. This is achieved not only through the digital sphere but also through regular meetings that foster personal contact.
Women in Office Design made its debut in Spain at the start of this year and it is already a success, having held three events that represent just the beginning of an unstoppable movement that has transcended office design to include interior design, architecture and, increasingly, industry professionals.
The three events held this year in Spain dealt with key ideas for the industry at the Barcelona Design Hub, at the Feria Hábitat València and more recently at Simon's "Intersections" space in Barcelona.
“We have also realised that in the world of design, due to the way we are and our culture, it is usually men who put themselves out there the most. However, there are hundreds of women who design workspaces and play a key role in decision making” Soledat Berbegal, Consultant and Brand Reputation Director at Actiu.
“We are sure that WOD will be a wake-up call to improve the sector, the industry and design in general”. Gracia Cardona, Director of WOD Spain.
“I wish there were more professional women who would speak out and who have greater visibility, not only in England, but around the world”. Harsha Kotak, founder of WOD.
“It is very important for women to support each other and to view men as allies. We must be very persistent and always strive for success: this is the only way to overcome obstacles. It is important to obtain knowledge and develop personal, communication and responsibility skills. Not only do you have to be good, you have to know how to convince people that you are good. Passion and hope are the only things that cannot be lost”. Amparo Bertomeu, General Manager at ANIEME and President of the Spanish Association of Managers (AED).
“We must become references and mentors for future generations. To know how to celebrate our differences, to help and support each other to work in collaboration. We must stop doubting ourselves”. Sophie von Schönburg-Glauchau, Manager at CuldeSacExperience.
“A female manager can contribute a lot to the company without hiding her personality and exercising leadership naturally if she wants to emulate a man”. Andre Cañada, commercial manager at Viccarbe.
“When you go back to work after having children, you need to hit the ground running again, otherwise you will be left behind. In my case, I managed to make a personal space for myself by specialising in hospital equipment and projects”. Anna Boscà, manager of the architecture department at Ramón Esteve.
“ESNE's fashion students are already talking about genderless collections and are now calling for genderless bathrooms as well. Things are no longer approached from the same perspective as before. They don't see this duality between genders, they see people. They see themselves as equals. This gender-based exclusion no longer interests them, they have got over it. And this change will be evident in the business world in the coming years”. María Antón, lecturer at ESNE.
“It's an exciting time in history. We have all the possibilities to progress and grow. We should not hold ourselves back because of age, leadership skills or experience, or because of the historical structures that sometimes lead to glass ceilings. It is time to act in the immediate environment and support each other”. Marisa Santamaría, manager at RED AEDE.
“In a global and hyper-connected world, design is one of the keys to generating new work processes in companies. Women are a factor for change through empathy, mediation and new forms of internal and external development”. Cristina Mateo, Associate Dean of IE School of Design and Architecture.
“As a millennial, I'm constantly evolving. I have never faced insurmountable barriers, but I am a constructive person that likes bringing people together; I believe that this attitude is fundamental. We need references from both the past and present”. Andrea Navarro, partner at GCA arquitectos.
“On the challenges of the future and the opportunities that are yet to come, we will deal with the difficulties as we have done so far: in a world of men, we have overcome them with respect and professionalism and by demonstrating the quality of our work. This is unbeatable”. Patricia von Arend, social interior designer at Denis&Von Arend.
“A lot is yet to be done, but I like to think that the work we are carrying out with WOD will contribute to a more collaborative industry. We are seeking an industry that is more equal in terms of leadership, for women to be given opportunities to lead teams and for female talent to be given visibility. The future must also be feminine”. Soledat Berbegal, Consultant and Brand Reputation Director at Actiu.