written by:
August 16, 2012

At this point, it's virtually ingrained in the popular consciousness: “Women make up 50 percent of the population and 85 percent of purchase decisions," says Karena Cameron of Femme Den, a design collective ensconced within a thirty-year-old design consultancy Smart Design. And yet, "all the men are doing the designing without regard for our needs." Cameron aims to change that.

Pink and white Nike watches designed by Femme Den

Nike watches redesigned by Femme Den.

1 / 11
Glass Pyrex baking dish redesigned by Femme Den

Femme Den redesigned the Pyrex baking dish.

2 / 11
Pico Rocket by Femme Den

The Pico Rocket by Femme Den.

3 / 11
Sally Hansen product packaging redesigned by Femme Den

Sally Hansen product packaging before and after a redesign by Femme Den.

4 / 11
Oxo products designed by Femme Den

Oxo tools by Femme Den.

5 / 11
Designer Karena Cameron of Femme Den

Karena Cameron, Director of Smart Design and Femme Den.

6 / 11
Designer Whitney Hopkins of Femme Den

Whitney Hopkins of Femme Den.

7 / 11
Designer Yvonne Lin of Femme Den

Yvonne Lin of Femme Den.

8 / 11
Designer Erica Eden of Femme Den

Erica Eden of Femme Den.

9 / 11
10 / 11
Agnete Egna of Femme Den

Agnete Egna contributes to Femme Den from their Barcelona office.

11 / 11
Pink and white Nike watches designed by Femme Den

Nike watches redesigned by Femme Den.

Frustrated at the quality of products available in the marketplace, four women—Whitney Hopkins, Agnete Enga, Erica Eden, and Yvonne Lin—formed a small design lab geared specifically to the needs of women consumers in 2005. Since then, the team has brought over 90 percent of their designs to market, working in an impressive range of industries: athletic wear, health care, electronics, even automobiles.

Designer Karena Cameron of Femme Den

Karena Cameron, Director of Smart Design and Femme Den.

Designer Whitney Hopkins of Femme Den

Whitney Hopkins of Femme Den.

Designer Yvonne Lin of Femme Den

Yvonne Lin of Femme Den.

Designer Erica Eden of Femme Den

Erica Eden of Femme Den.

Agnete Egna of Femme Den

Agnete Egna contributes to Femme Den from their Barcelona office.

The team has since honed their thinking on gender-sensitive design and continually campaigns against clumsy solutions. “Typically, big companies have resorted to a ‘shrink it and pink it’ philosophy for women. If it’s smaller and aesthetically pleasing, they’re sure it’s going to capture the female audience. Of course you know that’s not true,” says Cameron, “It’s not so much about changing a superficial element, it’s actually getting in and understanding what the unmet needs and desires are that are going to drive the emotional connection with the brand or the product. [The answer is] not making things pink.”

Here is a selection of products Femme Den has helped realize:

Nike Women’s Watches

When Nike’s women’s watches (shown above) fell below sales expectations, the athletic company turned to Femme Den to help its all-male team figure out the underlying problem. They discovered that women were shunning Nike’s “shrinked and pinked” watch versions and were actually buying from the men’s line because of its extra athletic features.

Cameron explains, “Some women prefer men’s sport watches because they reflect how they want to feel in the moment. Like men, they want to feel fierce and confident while working out. The difference is that women want to feel feminine too.” What resulted from their research was a watch that high in fashion, but also in performance.

Pyrex Easy Grab Bakeware

Glass Pyrex baking dish redesigned by Femme Den

Femme Den redesigned the Pyrex baking dish.

Femme Den helped Pyrex redesign their signature bakeware for Gen-Y home cooks. The redesigned product still offered a timeless design, but with stackable features and cut-out handles to help prevent accidents while passing dishes from one hand to another. The New York Times summed it by saying, “The changes are subtle and profound: the glass is clearer, the handles are deeper and more biomorphically shaped, and the lines are elegant. And heck, it's just prettier.”

Sally Hansen Beauty Tools

When Walmart threatened to cut Sally Hansen’s La Cross brand of tweezers from the shelves the personal care company asked Femme Den to see how they could bring back interest in their product.

Sally Hansen product packaging redesigned by Femme Den

Sally Hansen product packaging before and after a redesign by Femme Den.

The team redesigned all of the line’s tools (which included tweezers, scissors, nail files, clippers, and nippers). They added grips to enhance use, and precision tips for performance. The new packaging design allowed a 360-degree view of the product and a window to aid in exploration of the tool. To add an emotional connection, Femme Den also added unique product names and educational communication on the packaging. The redesign won the bronze award for International Design Excellence Awards in 2012.

Cardinal Health Endura Scrubs

70 percent of workers in an operating room are women, but traditional scrubs are made for an XL-sized man. Women have wider hips, typically shorter legs and rise, and need more chest coverage. The traditional scrubs don’t allow for that. One male surgeon Femme Den interviewed during research said, “I have seen every nurse’s boobs in this hospital.” The re-designed scrubs featured collars that don’t gape, waistlines and inseams that adjust for male and female bodies, angled pockets that prevent tools from dropping, breathable mesh panels for circulation, and adjustable leg lengths. They are durable and stretchable and no longer look like pajamas.

OXO Good Grip Tools

Oxo products designed by Femme Den

Oxo tools by Femme Den.

Femme Den helped OXO develop a suite of tools that appeal to women, but still work for men. No pink implements are in sight in this toolbox. Instead, they developed 20 tools that were ergonomic and comfortable to use. The line received more than two dozen awards including Design of the Decade Gold Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America. The line is has since become a part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

Pico Cricket

Pico Rocket by Femme Den

The Pico Rocket by Femme Den.

The Playful Invention Company (PICO) and Femme Den team developed a gender-neutral robotics set that appeals to both boys and girls. Named PICO Cricket, the computer and components kit spins, lights up and plays music. Instead of simply focusing on cars and robots, Cricket also emphasized art, music and creative materials.

Memorex App Enhanced Portable Stereo Speaker

Memorex by Femme Den

Knowing that moms appreciate no-fuss and no-muss technology, Femme Den helped design a portable stereo speaker that fits in any part of the room—whether in the kitchen counter, in the office desk or bookshelf—and removed extraneous parts that children could break.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

havart 170
Updating standard pieces, designer Gaëtan Havart turns a misused space into a vibrant kitchen.
May 04, 2016
tech support stillwater dwellings prefab exterior napa
In Napa, a custom menu of apps helps a frequent traveler keep track of security—and his garden—from afar.
May 04, 2016
home for good renovation montreal family rear facade steel cladding footbridge garden
This family opens up an old structure and imagines a long-term house.
May 04, 2016
BKLYN DESIGNS 2016 location
From panel discussions to virtual reality demonstrations and more, this weekend will bring out the designer in everyone during BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few activities and installations to check out.
May 04, 2016
cbill timmerman photography jarson residence l7c4109 0
After a successful kick-off program in San Diego, we’re now making our way to Scottsdale, Arizona for the second stop on our Dwell Home Tours series. As the only desert locale on our agenda, we’re giving visitors the chance to explore exquisite modern residences that are fully immersed in the city’s arid landscape.
May 04, 2016
Modern winery in Central California
An updated California winery captures a prestigious architecture award.
May 03, 2016
back to the garden rhode island cottage small space facade landscaping
Outside Providence, Rhode Island, a little retreat takes up no more space than a standard two-car garage.
May 03, 2016
White staircase with skylight and under-stair storage
With clever storage and a retractable skylight, a London apartment feels larger than its 576 square feet.
May 03, 2016
Off-the-grid prefab in pristine Tasmanian landscape by Misho+Associates.
In Tasmania, an eco-conscious architect builds a vacation home that can stand up to an untamed island.
May 03, 2016
30degree pendants by wrong.london
The Danish design brand never disappoints.
May 02, 2016
practical magic brooklyn renocation kitchen caesarstone countertop stainless steel ikea cabinetes green vola faucet
A creative couple flips the script on their family home, a former workman’s cottage on the northern edge of Brooklyn.
May 02, 2016
history lesson kansas city outdoor backyard facade porch saarinen round table emeco navy chairs
An architect pushes the vernacular architecture of Missouri into the modern realm.
May 02, 2016
mission possible san francisco renovation facade exterior french doors cedar
A dilapidated lot in San Francisco gets a second chance.
May 02, 2016
Eames Demetrios of Kcymaerxthaere
The Eames scion and "geographer-at-large" traverses the globe on behalf of Kcymaerxthaere, a network of markers and monuments that tells fictional tales about real-life communities.
May 02, 2016
marcel breuer architect letter office kansas city snower house
See a glimpse into the office of a master architect.
May 01, 2016
Santa Monica living room with an Yves Klein coffee table
Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron talks us through Dwell's May 2016 issue.
May 01, 2016
house that sottsass built maui hawaii memphis group home renovation ettore facade colored volumes
In Maui, of all places.
May 01, 2016
two of a kind padua italy matching family homes facade green roof doors color
For Dwell's annual issue dedicated to dream homes , we visited homes from Haiti to Italy. Here, we introduce you to the photographers and writers who made it happen.
April 30, 2016
houseofweek
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
April 30, 2016
W House living room
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 29, 2016
Vineyard house illuminated at night
Rammed-earth construction fuses this Portuguese house to the environment.
April 29, 2016
vintage Scandinavian furniture Kathryn Tyler
In southwest England, interior designer Kathryn Tyler built her home around her ever-expanding furniture collection.
April 29, 2016
steel facade home Seattle
On the sandy shores of Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle, renowned firm Olson Kundig Architects crafts a subtle home with striking steel accents.
April 29, 2016
seperate piece renovated guesthouse eames storage unit cork floor tiles living room
An architect and an interior designer put the tools to the test for this impressive renovation.
April 29, 2016
Ceramics by WrenLab
Manhattan doesn’t get to have all the fun during NYCxDesign. Brooklyn is set for the return of BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few exhibitors we are excited to see this year.
April 29, 2016
n0a6974 dxo
Architect Diego Revollo refreshes an apartment with a standout kitchen.
April 29, 2016
img 8652 1
The city of San Francisco has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of SFMOMA for years—and as the May 14th opening approaches closer everyday, the anticipation continues to build for art enthusiasts both near and far. This morning, we were given the opportunity to explore the newly expanded space before the crowds roll in. After a series of speeches, remarks, and tours, we left the grounds feeling thoroughly inspired and excited to share what we discovered.
April 28, 2016
intage Milo Baughman chairs, Darren Vigilant side table and B&B Italia sofa define the living room.
A family doesn’t have to travel far for a private oasis away from the busy city.
April 28, 2016
Renovation of 1967 Hamburg apartment with Vipp kitchen.
In our April issue, we showcased an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, with a striking, matte-black kitchen from Vipp. The 77-year-old company became famous for its iconic pedal trash can before venturing into kitchens and other tools for the home. This isn't the first time that the Danish company's products have graced our pages, and here we've gathered additional examples from our archive that show how the brand's minimalist black kitchens are always a win in modern interiors.
April 28, 2016
Zafra residence living room.
A man and his wife make an emotional return to an apartment building he loved as a kid.
April 28, 2016