What makes decorative accessories and furniture feminine or masculine?
-JoeyWhat a great question! Femininity and masculinity present themselves in various ways across cultures, but I'll respond to this in the conventional American perspective. I think most Americans regard "feminine" furnishings to be primarily concerned with form, and "masculine" furnishings to be primarily concerned with function. Some may find this heteronormative way of approaching design to be dated, and even repressive! I think good design is ergonomic, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. Here are some side-by-side traditional comparisons.
Feminine furnishings undulate like a woman's body, while masculine furnishings possess hard, clean lines.
More comparisons after the jump.
Feminine seating has a sloped or curvy back with low or no arms, like slipper chairs or camelback sofas. Masculine seating features a straight back and high arms, like a tuxedo or lawson sofa.
White-washed and light woods are regarded as feminine, while dark woods are considered masculine.
Feminine fabrics and materials are soft and warm like chenille and wood, while masculine fabrics and materials are durable and cool, like leather, stone, plastic, and metal.
Feminine furnishings are also elaborately decorated, as opposed to utilitarian and minimalist.
Brighter colors, embellishment, and complex patterns like damask and florals characterize feminine textiles. Darker fabrics with subtle and geometric patterns, like tweed, plaid, and pinstripes, are masculine. Weight is also important: feminine fabrics are generally more light and airy.
Feminine tastes favor winter and spring's powdery, dusty tints. Masculine tastes are partial to summer and fall's deeply saturated, earthy hues and shades.
Feminine window treatments tend to drape loosely with tab tops, clips, or pole pockets. The materials are usually soft and gauzy, like silk or linen. Masculine window treatments are neat and tailored with pinch pleats and grommets. The materials are usually thick and structural like velvet or canvas.