With Wiki Women Design, the Flanders Architecture Institute strives to bring women who have left their mark on Belgium's design heritage out of the shadows of history. Many women contributed to the designed environment, from (interior) architecture and graphic design to fashion and product design. Nevertheless, many remained under the radar of heritage institutions, researchers and collectors. With Wikipedia as a universal platform, writing sessions as a means, and five renowned female designers as ambassadors, Wiki Women Design aims to make up for this backlog.
"If a simple search on Google can reveal more female names, that's a very important step forward."‐ Stefanie Everaert & Caroline Lateur, DOORZON Interior architects
To date, there are hardly any studies on female designers in Belgium, although they have (had) an important influence on the designed environment. Despina Stratigakos compares the forgetting of female architects with the ancient Roman concept of damnatio memoriae, the erasure of persons and their legacy from memory. The absence of female designers in the collective memory is largely due to their relative absence from history books, which in turn has to do with their under-representation in design archives and collections. Due to the absence of such sources, little is known today about women's activities, even in the fields in which they were very active according to literature. Wiki Women Design wants to break this vicious circle, make women's contributions to the Belgian designed environment known and contribute to a more inclusive history. By unlocking the contributions of female designers on Wikipedia, the project also wants to contribute to the creation of female role models for future designers and to gender equality in the design disciplines.
"Patriarchal expectations and masculinist values are very deeply ingrained in this [architectural] culture […]. It will therefore require a conscious and shared effort of all those involved to change all this and to leave sexism behind."‐ Hilde Heynen, professor architectural theory, KU Leuven
Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website in the world, making the articles of this encyclopedia among the first results of Google searches. As Google is an important window on the world for many, Wikipedia has a huge impact on knowledge acquisition and historiography. However, women are also strongly underrepresented on Wikipedia, both as authors and as subjects. Through close collaboration with numerous partners, Wiki Women Design aims to complete the online encyclopedia and give more visibility to the women who have left their mark on the design heritage in Belgium. Archive and heritage institutions, researchers and teachers, contemporary designers, the Wikipedia community and many enthusiastic students and volunteers are all part of the effort.
The collaborative and participatory effort to build knowledge fits in perfectly with the core philosophy of Wikipedia and forms the foundation of this project.
"[...] while histories of women are now increasingly available, they have yet to become readily visible.""‐ Despina Stratigakos, professor architectural history, University at Buffalo
Anyone who wants to contribute can participate in one of the Wikipedia writing sessions organized by the Flanders Architecture Institute in collaboration with the project partners. The writing sessions take the form of edit-a-thons, a well-known format where communities come together to write and publish on a particular topic. The aim is to train new editors and improve the quality of articles on the subject.
"Wikipedia will only contain ‘the sum of all human knowledge’ if its editors are as diverse as the population itself: you can help make that happen. And I can’t think of anything more important to do, than that."‐ Sue Gardner, former director Wikimedia Foundation
Five women who are making an impact on the contemporary design sector in Belgium recognize Wiki Women Design as an important project that they would like to contribute to. Oana Bogdan, Sara De Bondt, Stefanie Everaert, Caroline Lateur and Linde Freya Tangelder motivate why the project is important and how they think it can make a difference for a more equal gender representation in the design sector and historiography.Discover the ambassadors
The final part of the project is an international symposium on September 23, 2021 with presentations by project participants, researchers, professionals and international experts. In addition, interested parties can participate in site visits to buildings, archives and collections that illustrate the cultural heritage of women designers and to which Wiki Women Design wants to give more visibility.
Are you interested in this project or would you like to contribute as an organization, researcher or volunteer? Are you in possession of archival material about women who had an impact on the designed environment in Belgium or do you know about archival material or collections that are located in other organizations or private persons? Let us know!Call
In collaboration with the International Center for the City, Architecture and Landscape (CIVA), the Flemish Architects Organization (NAV), the Cultural Institute of Architecture Wallonia-Brussels (ICA WB) and KRAS Architects, the Flanders Architecture Institute is launching the Women in Architecture Instagram page. Starting on International Women's Day on March 8, 2021, every week a woman active in the Belgian architectural field will give followers of the profile an insight into her activities.
AR-TUR, Art & History Museum, AVG-Carhif, Berg en Nete, Design Museum Brussels, Design Museum Gent, Docomomo, Eperon d'Or, Erfgoed Noorderkempen, Erfgoedcel k.Erf, Flanders DC, Ghent University, Hasselt University, KASK, Kempens Karakter, KU Leuven, Matrimony Days, meemoo, Modemuseum Hasselt, MoMu Antwerpen, Open Knowledge Belgium, PXL-MAD, Regionaal Landschap Kleine en Grote Nete, RoSa vzw, ULB, Faculté d'Architecture La Cambre Horta, University of Antwerp, Wikimedia Belgium, Z33
The project was made possible thanks to the support of the Flemish Community.
March 29 - April 2, 2021
Location: Library ULB, Faculté d'Architecture La Cambre Horta ( Place Flageyplein 19, 1050 Brussels)
Focus: Women at architecture schools; writing session takes place within the framework of the Semaine d'innovation pedagogique
Design Museum Gent
April 21, 2021
Location: Design Museum Gent (Jan Breydelstraat 5, 9000 Ghent)
May 15, 2021
Location: Art & History Museum (Jubelpark 10 Parc du Cinquantenaire, 1000 Brussels)
Focus: Women in the collection of the Art & History Museum, women in the decorative arts and in lacework
Flanders Architecture Institute
May 20, 2021
Location: Music studio, deSingel (Desguinlei 25, 2018 Antwerpen)
Focus: Women who have left their mark on Belgian design heritage
Location to be confirmed
May 27, 2021
Location: De Warande (Warandestraat 42, 2300 Turnhout)
Focus: Designers, but also women who through organizations have had an impact on the designed environment in the Kempen
June 16, 2021
Location: Design Museum Gent (Jan Breydelstraat 5, 9000 Ghent)
Focus: Contemporary Belgian designers
June 19, 2021
Location: Design Museum Brussels (Belgiëplein 1 Place de Belgique – 1020 Brussels)
June 28, 2021
Location: Modemuseum Hasselt (Gasthuisstraat 11, 3500 Hasselt)
Focus: Women who have left their mark on Belgian fashion
September 24, 2021
Location: Library ULB, Faculté d'Architecture La Cambre Horta (Place Flageyplein 19, 1050 Brussel)
Focus: Women who've contributed to the designed heritage in Belgium
Annelies Nevejans (Project Officer), Nina Serulus (Consultant Design), Michel D'hoe (Project Officer), Wim Lowet (Consultant Digital Archive)