‘Objects in Drag’ Investigates the Gender Performance of Household Items

Posted inSVA Branding: 100 Days

100 Days is an annual project at New York City’s School of Visual Arts that was founded by Michael Bierut. Each year, the students of the school’s Master’s in Branding Program spend 100 days documenting their process with a chosen creative endeavor. This year, we’re showcasing each student in the program by providing a peek into ten days of their project. You can keep an eye on everyone’s work on our SVA 100 Days page.

Over the last few months, unconstitutional attempts at banning drag performance have offered revelatory insight into the elusiveness of gender structures. Though the exaggeration of gender signifiers may oftentimes be exclusively associated with drag performance, the objects around us also tell intricate stories about our identities in dragged out ways.

Masters in Branding student Álvaro “Alvi” Bigaton seeks to share portrayals of masculinity and femininity in the form of commercialized products over the course of one hundred days through the project Objects in Drag. Each day, a different gender-coded object is featured alongside real reviews and comments from users across the internet in order to expand on the universe of each particular item and offer some insight into the object’s impact on a person’s relationship with gender.

Drag yourself to @objectsindrag on Instagram and join this investigation around gender, design, and branding!

The Manly Art of Knitting was one of the first objects featured on the project and it is still one of my favorites. The idea of starting one’s knitting journey by making blankets for ‘someone uncritical,’ like a dog, is surprisingly wholesome.

One of the things I have the most fun with is looking through all of the different points of view around the same object. Some reviews for this hand cream had very detailed descriptions about what people believe is important in a product geared towards women.

Sometimes the level of abstraction necessary to communicate masculinity overlaps with anti-gun initiatives! 🤷🏻‍♀️

Samantha’s willingness to pay extra for Scrub Mommies because “women shouldn’t be paid less than men” is an uncommon take on what others were understanding as pink tax.

Denise T. was brutal here, but referencing a pack of cigarettes at the cost of the size of the actual treat inside the box is in fact a bold design choice.

“Girls have questions… Ouija has answers” has easily become one of my favorite product claims.

It’s always exciting when I’m able to bring a little bit of my own experiences onto the project. For its 24th post, I featured something from Brazil, my home country, that is very prevalent in our repertoire of gender codes.

User reviews may not be available for every product on the internet, but claims and website descriptions are often just as telling when it comes to understanding what benefits companies sell to each gender.

This was the first time I ever heard about the manflu— I hope no one catches it.

The amount of exaggerated gender signifiers in products for babies is impressive.