• Vital assemblages: A fashion-led research investigation into collaboration between fashion design research and biology

Geaney, Victoria, 2022, Thesis, Vital assemblages: A fashion-led research investigation into collaboration between fashion design research and biology PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This practice-led PhD contributes to understanding the potential of the relationship between fashion-led research and biology, asking: What can collaborations between a fashion-led researcher and biologists contribute to fashion design research? The project also focuses on understanding the types of distinctive roles taken on by fashion-led researchers within interdisciplinary teams, asking: What types of distinctive and shifting roles can fashion-led researchers take on in interdisciplinary teams? This study provides new insights into the types of roles, value and agential relations of fashion-led research in these forms of interdisciplinary interaction.

While the mechanisms of interdisciplinary collaboration have been more widely explored within other design disciplines, there is a gap for studies into the role of fashion in collaboration with biology. Fashion, by its very nature, is collaborative (Kawamura, 2018:2), and has often worked with fields both inside and outside its own discipline. In this study, collaboration offered a way for fashion to approach interdisciplinarity in working with biologists, bacteria and living systems. This is important for fashion design research – in building understandings of fashion’s role in today’s interdisciplinary context, particularly for fashion practitioners operating in emergent disciplinary spaces such as biodesign, biofabrication and biofashion.

I employed a qualitative multi-method fashion-led research approach to examine two case studies, a series of collaborative projects, scientific collaborator interviews and a series of workshops. Underpinning this research, my theoretical context drew on assemblage, agency and materiality from new materialisms. This methodology and theoretical context enabled me to understand the types of roles a fashion-led researcher can play, and how these roles are agile in response to agential shifts and assemblage configurations.

This thesis highlights the range of roles a fashion-led researcher can assume in interdisciplinary teams, including: intuitive and sensory, curious, translator, facilitator, provocateur and risktaker, seducer and societal or public-facing communicator. Vitally, these roles are understood as negotiated – formed through interactions with humans and nonhumans – including myself as a fashion-led researcher, bacteria, fabric and biologists. By understanding the potential of these emerging roles, this research project acts to broaden the possibilities for fashion practitioners to operate as future fashion-led researchers.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Other > Biological Sciences > C100 Biology
Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W230 Clothing/Fashion Design
School or Centre: School of Design
Funders: AHRC (LDoc) [1653572]
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fashion; biology; collaboration; biodesign; new materialisms
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2022 11:06
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 12:27
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4985
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