Interpreting cultural sources, Stage 4 – Selecting designs for a specified outcome

December 2015

Having collected source material (stage 1), developed lots of design ideas (stage 2) and worked them into samples (stage 3), stage 4 asks for one design idea to be chosen to be developed towards a product, and one which could be developed as a more conceptual or expressive piece.

I had already conducted a review of colour and fashion trends in clothing and homeware. I have discussed this in my blog entry for stage 3, because it influenced development of my samples. I will now choose one sample from each of the categories (product and conceptual) and discuss their merits and ideas for further development.


1. Design idea to be developed towards a product

My strongest design ideas for development towards a product are my fabric samples. I am torn between my two “feather mirror prints” (samples 5a and 5b), which I envisage suitable for covering furnishings or cushions, and my “Blackfoot dress inspired print” (sample 6), which I see as suitable for a dress fabric.


I think that the mirror feather prints (above) fit slightly less well with the trends because although geometric, they are quite “fussy”, (i.e. detailed) prints. Bold triangles or zig-zags would probably have been a slightly better fit. Having said that, quite intricate patterning is also popular, particularly on accent pieces of furniture (such as a single armchair in the corner of a room).


I feel that my “Blackfoot dress inspired print” (above) is a very strong design and an extremely close fit with fashion trend predications for winter 16/17. Although the complementary colours of red and green work well, I could take the development further by exploring additional colour ways – maybe yellow and black, which also seems popular. I also think there is scope for a “family” of related prints and plain fabrics which could be used together in a garment collection.

The fabric sampling website I chose was cheap and quick, but did not give me the range of fabrics that I needed to explore this pattern properly. I always envisaged this design being printed on either pure silk (and made into a flowing blouse), or stretch jersey (to be made into a fitted top or dress). Either of these would work well. The next stage in development would be for me to think about garment designs, and to get some silk and stretch jersey fabric samples made, to properly assess these options.


2. Design idea to be developed towards a conceptual or expressive piece

My four samples developed using the Snoshone lake theme are already showing potential for development into an expressive piece, such as a wall hanging. They are powerful because of their contrast in textures and the use of complementary colours (blue and orange). Even as small samples, they are already bold and striking.

In my design work, I developed lots of collages because I wanted to explore how the image was changed by dividing it into sections, repeating areas, and rearranging parts of the picture. I wanted to see whether it would still make sense and whether these manipulations would enhance or take away from the power of the image.

The manipulation which really works for me is the one which is reminiscent of half-drawn blinds (p. 30 of design development book 2 – see image below)

The image retains maximum power by remaining whole and recognisable as a scene/view. The varying width of vertical stripes are like looking at the scene through half-drawn blinds. They also give a feeling of perspective, because as a viewer, you feel that you are closer to the thicker black strip than the thinner one. It therefore appears that the image recedes from right to left, into the background.

I preferred my woven analogy of the horizon, and my stitched analogy of the grassland (see photos below)


I see no reason why these two approaches should not be combined (maybe by stitching onto a section of weaving) to create the full scene. If the woven/stitched piece was made bigger (say 65cm width x 80cm length) the grasses would appear finer and more detailed, and provide an even better contrast with the “lumpy” texture of the green foliage and horizon. 

Black strips could be hung in front of the weaving/stitching to give the impression of looking through a blind, as demonstrated in the collage image above.




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