Design And Body : Exploring Conceptions Of The Body In Fashion Design Processes

Abstract: The human body has been considered to be an active element and is a common starting point of fashion design processes. However, during these processes, understanding of the body and how it is used to design is often confined by the body’s standard spatial and structural characteristics. The research presented in this thesis aimed to examine body alternatives in fashion design processes in order to explore and open up for alternative body expressions for developing silhouettes for clothing. Alternative aesthetic approaches and understandings of the body as a design tool were researched through experimental explorations, reflections, dialogue, and discussions. These created an embodied dialogue between thought and execution which was further developed and informed by the EDI (Embodied Design Ideation) framework for analysing and refining understandings of the interactions between the body, materials, and movement. These explorations and their outcomes bridge the theory of research for the art and research for art and design.  The explorations were based on the varied ways in which the body is perceived during body-material interactions, and were explored through movement, human-technology interfaces, and an exploratory workshop conducted at the Swedish School of Textiles. These explorations expanded our understanding of the body’s aesthetics in relation to material interactions and embodied experiences. The explorations questioned our preconceived conceptions of the body and facilitated a process of re-learning these through fashion design. The results of the explorations were alternative methods and tools that use the body as a central variable in fashion design. The research culminated in the development of conceptions of the body in design processes that increase the design possibilities by introducing new concepts, tools, and methods. The body alternatives developed provide an openness in terms of design thinking and introduce conceptions of the body that can facilitate or improve design practice. The results have implications for design methods and contribute to methods in general and fashion design education programmes in terms of how they facilitate design processes.