Maja Gunn

Maja Gunn is a fashion designer and holds a PhD in Design with specialization fashion design from the Swedish School of Textiles. Gunn’s dissertation Body Acts Queer: Clothing as a performative challenge to heteronormativity (2016) deals with design and design methods in relation to gender and sexuality. Gunn is a Professor of Crafts at HDK Steneby, University of Gothenburg. In the last year, she has also worked part-time with a research project at Halmstad University, which examines how design can be used to increase gender equality within the fire department. The project is funded by Sweden’s innovation agency Vinnova. Gunn’s solo exhibition Play (2017–2018) was shown at the Swedish Textile Museum in Borås. She also participated in A Queen Within Adorned Archetypes, a major international fashion exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art, USA. Together with Karin Ehrnberger and Camilla Andersson, Gunn curated the exhibition Norm Form (2017–2018), that focused on design that challenges norms, which was shown at ArkDes in Stockholm. In the fall of 2018, Gunn will initiate a new research project at the University of Gothenburg, which aims to examine the functions of craft in relation to norm criticality and social change.


Body Acts Queer: Clothing As A Performative Challenge To Heteronormativity (2016)

Maja Gunn’s artistic and practice-based dissertation has been developed based on the idea that design creates social and ideological change. From this perspective, Body Acts Queer: Clothing as a performative challenge to heteronormativity introduces an artistic way of working with and exploring the performative and ideological functions of clothing with regard to gender, feminism, and queer. Gunn’s research presents a program for experimental fashion design which is exemplified through a series of artistic projects – while also discussing the foundations of such approach and the different perspectives that have affected the program and its artistic examples.

By working with clothing and fashion design through artistic projects using text and bodies, Gunn transforms queer and feminist theory into a creative process. Through these processes, Gunn investigates performative and ideological functions by looking into bodily experiences of clothing by focusing on cultural, social, and heteronormative structures. The research suggests a change in the ways in which bodies act, are perceived, and are produced within the fashion field, giving examples of – and alternatives to – how queer design practice can be performed. In Gunn’s artistic research, queer design is explored as an inclusive term, containing ideas about clothing and language. Body Acts Queer traverse the meeting point between fiction and reality, and the ability to perform interpretation and bodily transformations – where pleasure, bodily experiences, and interaction create a change.