A Chat With Merle Hall, Talking About XXEquals: The UK’s First Majority Female Product Design Initiative

Merle Hall

XXEquals is the UK’s first female-led product design initiative by Kinneir Dufort (KD). 
XX Equals | Female-centred innovation, design and product development

How did you come up with the idea for the initiative?

XXEquals is the UK’s first majority-female team who are designing products focused on women across the consumer, industrial and medical markets.

Fuelled by the growing need to design more female-centered products, and to improve the gender balance in the design industry, XXEquals is already working on projects including smart femcare solutions, sustainable period products, voice recognition software, and futures research.

The initiative breaks new ground in the design industry and is helping to pave the way for young women interested in careers in product and industrial design.

I have long noticed an issue with gender balance in the product design industry, and have been compelled to act. I did this for the benefit of my team, my clients, the industry and wider society. I believe it is important for businesses to reflect the make-up of the population, which is 50% female. Improving gender balance is important to ensure relevance within the industry, as well as from a broader ethical perspective.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

KD is thriving despite the pandemic. Its senior management team recognised early on that the pandemic had the potential to have an impact on the business and so they acted quickly to protect the business and the jobs of the team.

Their clients have also sustained the business, enabling KD to launch XXEquals in March 2021, whilst continuing to deliver high-calibre projects for clients around the world.

In 2020, during the pandemic, KD recruited two female graduates. One of whom approached the business after her original job offer fell through due to the impact of Covid.

What can we hope to see from XXequals in the future?

XXEquals expects to create many innovative products for women, by women – from femtech and consumer technology, to period products and healthcare futures.

As a broader company, KD hopes to continue to grow and recruit more women. Its overall gender balance is currently 43% female, in an industry where 5% is the average. However, KD want this to increase to 50%.