Dialogues through design: ethnographic explorations of creative process

Braithwaite, N. ORCID: 0000-0001-6424-8919, 2016. Dialogues through design: ethnographic explorations of creative process. In: Cumulus Hong Kong 2016: Cumulus Open Design for E-very-thing, Hong Kong Design Institute, Hong Kong, China, 21-24 November 2016.

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Abstract

Ethnography has traditionally examined fashion in the context of consumption. This aligns with material culture's inclination for examining the meaning of objects through consumption rather than design, which should be considered the actual starting point of their meaningfulness. In spite of the wealth of perspectives interrogating fashion, there is a marked absence of literature exploring how it is actually created. Using an ethnographic study of women's shoe designers, this paper unpacks the real creative process. The research focused on the practical, material and social processes that bring the creative ideas of designers into the commercial sphere of the fashion system. Ethnography will be seen to be an integral method for revealing design from the perspective of its practitioners.
Central to the paper is an ethnographic dialogue between researcher, designers, ideas, materials and commerciality, bringing a more emotive perspective to design. Lasting eighteen months, the study involved observations of the practical stages of design and interviews with studio based designers, who apply a more handmade approach to their creativity. Ethnography was used to understand how design happens practically and commercially, as well as how it is experienced from the perspective of individual practitioners. A phenomenological approach was applied with the researcher learning to design and make shoes, enabling a reflective interpretation of data. Design was revealed to be fluid, sensory and reliant on tacit knowledge. The creative process for each designer was both experiential and personal, yet grounded in commerciality. The paper will tease out these tensions.

Item Type: Conference contribution
Creators: Braithwaite, N.
Date: November 2016
Divisions: Schools > School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 08 May 2017 10:03
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 14:14
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/30589

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