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Proud, Different, and Visible: LGBTQIA+ in Home Design

As a Vancouver-based company, we at Sömn love the fact that our city is proudly diverse. Nevertheless, certain demographics still face difficulty finding representation in different industries, and home design is no exception.

We believe there is an advantage in holistic design that represents people of all walks of life, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or asexual. Like gender-neutral language, inclusive fashion and design can raise awareness of the LGBTQIA+ community, making our society more close-knit, compassionate, and inclusive.

A recent German-based study by PwC, the German Retail Federation (HDE), and Google revealed there is still room for considerable improvement. Few small and medium-sized entrepreneurs are engaged in inclusive home design, and maybe one-third of larger companies have explored the topic. It's a surprising discrepancy in a creative field that prides itself on catering to different styles and tastes.

One possible explanation is that many organizations haven't considered what selling to LGBTQIA+ audiences looks like. A simpler explanation is that the omission is finance-driven—designs made for wider audiences usually sell better, but that doesn't mean savvy marketers aren't starting to cater to the market. We recently launched our capsule collection of premium loungewear in gender-neutral styles, including the Linen Short Sleeve Shirts and Pyjama Shorts. The shapes are loose and soft, with flowing silhouettes meant to accommodate any gender and body type. It's a collection that's already attracted a lot of attention, and we're immensely proud to have created a product meant to be worn by anyone.

It's interesting to note that inclusive design isn't a new concept. Irish architect and designer Eileen Gray (1878–1976), best known for her Dragons armchair, was bisexual. She was well-known in the lesbian art scene and used her designs to question identity and sexuality. More modern examples of inclusive designers include Sophie Colle, known for her Barbie-core approach, and Isabel Rower, who tosses gender-specific attributes for an aesthetic that's both whimsical and other-worldly. 

Diverse designs are as unique as the people buying them. Many come from brilliant and up-and-coming designers who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community—but it's important to note that their work isn’t exclusively aimed at diverse people. The designs may range from futuristic to retro, explicitly gender-neutral, playful, or emphasize sexuality—and they have enormous potential to reach young people, especially Generation Z, where ideas like sustainability and diversity are a huge part of their values and must be considered. 

Inclusive design takes the experiences and ideas of diverse people into account but still appeals to people outside the LGBTQIA+ community. We believe it's possible to achieve greater success in the long term by creating diverse products in a spectrum of colours and shapes that allow people to be themselves and express their values—respecting diversity of experience, background, and identity as a small step towards the world we all want to live in.

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