Igoe, Elaine, 2013, Thesis, IN TEXTASIS: MATRIXIAL NARRATIVES OF TEXTILE DESIGN PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

Since its inception in the late 1970s, the academic field of design research has lacked significant input
from textile design. Textile design inhabits a liminal space that spans art, design, craft; the decorative
and functional; from handiwork to industrial manufacture. This PhD by thesis, although recognizing
this particularity, asserts textile design as a design discipline and seeks to address key questions that
define a design discipline (Archer 1979). Specific factors have prevented the participation of textile
design in the development of design theory: the universalism of the Modernist age decried many of
the innate characteristics of textiles despite the fact that the versatility of textiles has made it one of
the most appropriate mediums for its message. This suppression points to the femininely gendered
nature of textiles and how this affected the participation of textile designers in the development of
design research. Addressing this historical and cultural context necessitated the utilization of feminist
qualitative research methods in a methodology that references matrixial theory (Ettinger 2006) and
relationality. Encounters, conversations, stories, drawings, metaphor, meshing and restorying are all key
research methods used in this study. In its autoethnographic approach, my position as a textile designer
and as the researcher is frequently foregrounded, and is also blended with the experiences of other
textile designers. The study unfolds and expands in a non-linear way, structure and outcome co-evolving
through my contingent thinking and activity.
Theory and texts are montaged from anthropology, philosophy, literature, cognitive psychology and
psychoanalysis to define key characteristics of textile design and its associated thinking, both tacit
and explicit. These characteristics are then placed into the context of the design research agenda,
with particular reference to design thinking and problem-solving. This both strengthens the position
of textiles as a design discipline and highlights its anomalies. Through analysing the articulation
of textile design practice and thinking, this study proposes an alternative perspective on design
thinking and problem-solving in design which contrasts with the notions of divergence followed
by convergence which are predominant in design research literature. It suggests that textile design
thinking is fundamentally dimensionally expansive yet set in tense relation to external forces of folding
and rhizomatic breakage (Deleuze 1993/1999, Deleuze & Guattari 1987/2008). This paradigm of
design thinking rests upon the significance of long-established textile metaphors for the embodied
and interconnected activities of cognition and action, and is indicative of particular views of post-
Postmodernist thought. Based on this, as well as on other key characteristics of textile design process
and thinking that have been defined, pedagogic implications are discussed and specific areas of current
design research discourse which would benefit from greater involvement from textile designers and
theorists are explored.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W700 Crafts > W710 Fabric and Leather Crafts
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2014 15:54
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 15:45
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1646
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