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  • An understanding of embodied textile selection processes & a toolkit to support them

Petreca, Bruna Beatriz, 2016, Thesis, An understanding of embodied textile selection processes & a toolkit to support them PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

The textile selection is a crucial part of the design process, for which there is no systematic understanding and no support in place from the designer experience perspective. In the selection, designers need to synthesise technical information, their sensory and affective experience around textiles, and its related meanings. However, currently the textile industry just provides methods to describe, measure, or predict the properties of textiles perceptible to hand manipulation: methods that only partially support the designer. Hence, designers’ selection still relies heavily on experiential knowledge, that is, through processes that remain implicit or inaccessible to conscious articulation. The thesis addresses this gap by contributing new understanding of when and how the textile selection happens in the design process, uncovering tacit processes and embodied aspects integral to it, and secondly, by developing a toolkit to support the designer experience when selecting. The Design Research Methodology (Blessing and Chakrabarti, 2009) was taken as the overarching methodological approach, and was enriched by a further selection of methods. This approach enabled the description of the textile selection in the design process by investigating diverse sectors (fashion, interior and vehicle design), and led to the development of a support for this activity reflecting the reality of designers’ practice. To understand the textiles selection processes, four qualitative exploratory studies were conducted. Study one investigated the textiles selection by designers, taking a Grounded Theory approach, which revealed when (in the design process) and how textiles selection happens (through four emerging themes - ‘Collection’, ‘Interrogation’, ‘Projection’, and ‘Transformation’). These processes were articulated to propose the ‘Quad-core Textile Selection Model’. Study two investigated a facsimile design process, of sports shoes customisation in a retail setting. Through this study the tacit processes were confirmed and better understood, and ‘Projection’ was further elaborated as a phenomenon. Study three investigated an intense moment of selection in the context of a textile fair to understand what sensorial information underpins the textile selection processes. This study revealed the importance of the multisensory experience to textile selection, and the complexity of remembering and communicating such experiences in the design process. Study four explored the embodied aspects of textiles selection emerging as significant through the tactile experience in more depth, using the ‘Elicitation Interview’ (Petitmengin, 2006) method to obtain a first-person verbal description of experiential processes. The latter revealed 3 types of touch behaviour and 3 tactile-based phases of the textile selection process, and their dynamics. These findings enrich the proposed model including experiential and embodied components of the textiles selection that go well beyond ‘textile hand’
(AATCC Test Method 202-2012), and highlight the dynamics and interactions between the textile, the body and the product to be, which emerged as crucial for these processes. Finally, these findings were used as input for designing ‘The sCrIPT Toolkit’, comprised of instructions that facilitate focus and elaboration of the textile experience in the textiles selection. To conclude, a reflection on the pedagogical potential of this tool is presented, based on explorations within various sectors in academia.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
School or Centre: School of Design
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2016 16:56
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2016 16:56
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2363

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