Women in Office Design – Erika McFarlane
Monthly Column By Women in Office Design
Erika McFarlane – product designer and engineer at office and contract furniture manufacturer, Lee & Plumpton – shares her perspective of ‘Women in Office Design’
Getting Started ….
“I am originally from Lund, in the south of Sweden, and first started working in the UK as part of a one year exchange at Nottingham Trent University during my studies for a BSc in Design at Kalmar University.
Having completed an internship with a bespoke garden furniture company, I was recruited to work at IKEA’s product development centre. Initially working in 3D design, I progressed to become a product engineer. I have worked in a wide range of sectors including retail interiors, event display and bespoke kitchens. Importantly, I have always taken an active interest in design relating to sustainable development and environmental management.”
Daily Life ….
“I am really enjoying the move into office furniture and applying my experience to design with a strong focus on quality, product longevity and sustainability. My daily life is very varied with much of my time spent working in CAD / Inventor developing concepts through to manufacturing drawings – evaluating standards, undertaking risk analysis and overall problem solving!”
“For me with a home furnishing background, the blending of home and office is very interesting. Both the home working aspect and the trend of offices becoming more ‘homely’. I’m also excited about the expected shift to blended working and hot-desking. I think there will be a lot of fun and interesting design challenges there.”
Your advice to those starting their career ….
“Try not to have only one goal, or only one path. Most people I know in the design field have not ended up exactly where they set out to be, but discovered along the way what their passions were and what made them happy. Some of my best experiences have been in roles that I was not sure about initially!”
What can the industry do better to promote careers for women in design …
“It’s wonderful to see so many more women in management roles. I do, however, believe that we should all try to ‘check’ our privilege and champion all minorities.
I also think it is often unintentional assumptions – a deep rooted idea that women are less suitable for certain jobs. It can be little things, like being referred to as ‘lady designer’. Even when it’s well-meaning, it reinforces that a woman in this role is out of place, a novelty. CAD roles are still often being advertised as draughtsman rather than draughtsperson.
It would also be nice if the next generation, regardless of gender, would not have to worry about pay gap or being asked about reproductive plans during job interviews!”
Erika is a member of Women in Office Design – a networking and learning platform for like-minded women in the workplace design industry. Founded in May 2018 by Harsha Kotak, an interior designer with a vision to inspire and empower women working in all areas of the office design industry, WOD is a growing network of 1500 plus global members. www.woduk.com