V&A Dundee

Visualising the women of club culture

For Night Fever, Lady of the House and graphic designer Jenny Elliott collaborated to produce a new infographic, depicting influential female pioneers of electronic music.
A multicoloured infographic in the form of soundwaves, depicting women in electronic music
Jenny Elliott's infographic represents the data gathered by the Lady of the House project

Lady of the House is a project celebrating, championing and honouring women in dance music and beyond. The team spoke to over women, whose careers span six decades, four continents and a huge range of genres, with the interviews brought together in a new book.

From artists to managers, promoters to label owners, the contributors shared their experiences of breaking barriers and building their careers within the industry. You can hear from just a handful of the contributors - in their own words - below.

The project aimed to amplify the team's research and provide another way to represent the impact and influence of the contributors. Lady of the House founder and co-author Laila Mckenzie shared why recognition of women within the industry, particularly Black and Brown women, is so important.

Edinburgh-based multi-disciplinary designer and illustrator Jenny Elliott, who has a background in built environment and urban design, shared the process of creating the graphic, and explained why the project was a perfect fit for her data visualisation skills -

"I'm a strong advocate for combining data and design and have found this combination resonates through much of my work. Visually presenting data can help communicate findings or information in a more engaging way to a wider audience. Equally, data visualisation can help synthesise, present and therefore weave data-driven insights into a live design or decision-making process. I see both these approaches as a form of visual storytelling.

"This was a truly inspiring project that I was extremely happy and honoured to have the opportunity to be part of. However, from a technical and design perspective no mean feat given the quantity of data involved! With more than 150 celebrated women from more than 11 different countries worldwide, involved in 17 different sub-genres, occupying more than 12 different types of role, with almost 100 different professional affiliations and over time periods spanning over 60 years - my first design challenge was to find a way to visually prioritise and structure the data and transform it from a large spreadsheet into a more user-friendly and uncluttered graphic.

Luckily I love a challenge! I find the process of puzzling out how best to communicate important information really enjoyable and a key part of the design process. The final design included sound bars similar to an audio waveform - giving a clean ordered look to the information. Visual cues from use of colour coding, to lines and grouping of similar elements allowed the data to be structured and synthesised to maximise legibility.

This has been a fantastic and worthwhile project to work on, and I've thoroughly enjoyed both the design process and working with the incredible team at Lady of the House to communicate their inspiring work."

For more on design, representation and club culture, visit the Night Fever: Designing Club Culture exhibition, or check out this story about the queer roots of disco.

Image credit - Jenny Elliott/Lady of the House

Interviews courtesy of Lady of the House

Music credit - Night Fever mix by Hilltown Disco