Passion is a strong driver for designers to work in the design scene and to shape their career path. However, this path is marked by a number of challenges. Even in the design industry, not all that glitters is gold.
We talked to Anissa Carrington and Karo Berndt about their work for Ladies, Wine & Design in Hamburg. Thanks to them, there has been a chapter in Hamburg since 2018 and already 23 events that connect and empower femme and non-binary designers. In the interview, the two give an insight into their work and share their perspective on the Hamburg design industry.
Isabel Neuendorf: What issues are particularly close to your hearts in Hamburg with your work?
Anissa & Karo: The mission of LW&D is to network and thus strengthen underrepresented creatives. Each chapter - as we call the local branches - acts autonomously and sets its own priorities. For us in Hamburg, the focus is on making role models visible, promoting young talent and questioning the status quo. We believe that this is the only way to bring about lasting change in the industry.
What exactly do you mean by "challenging the status quo"?
Even though the industry considers itself very progressive, its status quo is not. The representation of femme and non-binary people gets thinner the higher you look on the corporate ladder. Also, under the guise of creativity, many *isms such as sexism and racism are often still tolerated. It is important for us to talk openly about this and thus contribute to such structures not only being recognised, but challenged and abolished in the long run.
Why is it so important to have role models and for whom do you look for role models?
Especially for young creatives, it is important to have role models and mentors who show them possible paths, motivate them and help them find their way in our multifaceted professional field. This can happen on a very practical level (portfolio reviews, help with the step into self-employment, cooperations), but also provide inspiration through mere representation - for example, through speakers who work in professions traditionally occupied by men. They sit in the director's chair, behind the camera, run agencies and studios and thus show our participants: I do it, so you can do it too.
Why do you need a network like Ladies, Wine & Design?
LW&D was founded in New York in 2015 by designer Jessica Walsh. LW&D's mission is to increase representation and diversity in the creative industry, all the way up to the executive level.
Only 0.1% of creative agencies worldwide are founded by women or non-binary people - the number of BIPOC founders is even far smaller.
What are the topics, concerns and wishes that you hear from Hamburg designers in your events?
Every topic we discuss in our Salon Nights is exciting in its own way. However, the areas that have certainly generated the most lively group discussions or the most questions are probably topics such as the step into self-employment, working in an agency as a parent or also the racist and sexist experiences that especially multiple marginalised people have when working in the creative industry.
You just mentioned the chapters: Where can we find Ladies Wine & Design and how can we imagine your meetings exactly?
What started as monthly pizza dinners and wine drinking is now a non-profit initiative with around 300 chapters worldwide. When there is not a pandemic, monthly "Salon Nights" take place, where femme and non-binary people in the creative industry meet, exchange ideas and inspire each other. Here in Hamburg, every Salon Night begins with a contribution on a relevant topic. This can be a lecture or a panel discussion, a workshop or even an interview. Afterwards there is good wine and good conversation.
What is your role at Ladies, Wine & Design Hamburg?
Our work at LW&D is mostly behind the scenes. We curate the topics and speakers, find nice venues and make sure that our Salon Nights can take place there. Promo, ticketing, catering, technology - it's all part of it. At the events themselves, we usually just give a short introduction and then sit in the audience ourselves. that's the best thing about our role as chapter leaders: we are the only ones who can really take every Salon Night and thus everything in terms of inspiration and impulses with us.
Was there an initial impulse for you to get involved with Ladies, Wine & Design in Hamburg?
We had both been following Jessica Walsh and her work on Instagram for a while and that's how we came across LW&D. While looking for the next meeting of the Hamburg chapter, we discovered that it didn't exist yet. Strange really, because Hamburg has a huge creative scene and helps shape and support the German industry. So we simply founded the chapter ourselves.
For those who are interested: Who can attend your events?
The events are aimed at femme and non-binary people. Since it's all about making these people visible and, above all, about connecting creative luminaries with the next generation, it's important to us. The few event places should also be filled by precisely these people.
Photos: Laura Müller