Dezeen Magazine

A Basic Instinct by Anna Aagaard Jensen

Anna Aagaard Jensen's A Basic Instinct chairs reinvent "manspreading" for women

Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Anna Aagaard Jensen has designed a series of chairs to challenge social norms and encourage women to claim more space with their bodies.

The flesh-coloured chairs in A Basic Instinct are made of fiberglass and acrylic resin, which has been tinted with blush makeup.

Each is a different shape that relates to an exaggerated form of the human body and encourages the user to spread their legs to sit. Men are not allowed to use the chairs.

A Basic Instinct by Anna Aagaard Jensen

The largest is known as The Big Lady, with front supports that look like massive, anthropomorphic spread legs. Another of the chairs features two globes that nestle between the legs of the sitter.

"The pink and organic form relates itself to the female body," Anna Aagaard Jensen told Dezeen. "The form and shape of The Big Lady is to some extend brutal – it explains her aggressiveness towards change – but with her detailing and use of makeup she becomes a complex creature that is also feminine, sensible and sexual. It’s the complexity of the woman – we are more than just one thing!"

A Basic Instinct by Anna Aagaard Jensen

The project emerged from Aargaard Jensen's ongoing research into the construction of identity through different forms of media.

"I wanted to explore the body language of women because we seem to be more restricted than men," she said. "We seem to follow the rules/norms more tightly in contrary to men. We constantly think about how we are perceived instead of acting on an instinct, hence the title."

A Basic Instinct by Anna Aagaard Jensen

Aagaard Jensen chose to focus on chairs after observing how a male and a female guest on the late-night US TV program, The Jimmy Fallon Show, sat very differently on their chairs.

"They had the same amount of space, but they used it completely differently – the man with an open body language taking so much space and the women sitting so confined it almost looked uncomfortable," explained the designer.

"I think it was a moment of 'you have got to be kidding me!' and then after it was just a matter of how to make the woman occupy more space through the act of sitting."

The collection also shares its title with an infamous movie, which is best known for a controversial scene in which actress Sharon Stone spreads her legs while sitting to provoke a sexual response from her male interrogators as a form of manipulation.

In men, the spreading of legs while sitting in public has recently come to be known as 'manspreading' and been identified as a particular issue on public transport, where space is sometimes scarce.

A Basic Instinct by Anna Aagaard Jensen

"Through chairs we have the possibility to construct and navigate the body in terms of sitting," continued Aagaard Jensen. "Mostly the chair is made for a traditional sitting, but you still have room for interpretation of your posture."

A Basic Instinct was one of 11 projects selected by legendary Dutch design studio Droog for the 2018 revival of its annual exhibition of the best graduate work from Design Academy Eindhoven. The exhibition at Hôtel Droog in Amsterdam ran until 30 September 2018. The project will also be shown at the Design Academy Eindhoven graduate exhibition during Dutch Design Week 2018 in October.

Other projects from the latest batch of graduates from the Dutch school include Ellie Birkhead's Building The Local bricks made from waste materials in the Chiltern Hills and Elisa Otañez's mobile protest toilet Yellow Spot designed to raise awareness of the lack of free public facilities for women.