I wish I could sketch like them

1 Posted by - October 2, 2014 - Class update, Fashion, Learning

Design class

On Thursday last week each student had to hand in their “ideation” sketches – 25 in total with the top 5 or the 5 that they intend to include in their collection clearly indicated. In class each student had a few moments with the instructor to review their 5 chosen outfits and discuss challenges, fabric selections, etc. Other students could listen in and see what their classmates were planning. The talent of these students and their ability to communicate ideas in beautiful sketches is enviable and amazing to observe. I have finalized my 5 looks (in much less elegant sketches) but am still tinkering with one and got some helpful ideas from my chat with the instructor. In two weeks the design book is due. This is a final visual presentation of the collection and must include a full colour line-up sheet showing the entire collection illustrated on one page, a full colour illustration of each outfit, and technical drawings for each outfit.

The first outfit completely constructed in muslin (an inexpensive factory grade cotton used to test the design, details and fit before cutting into the good fabric) is due on October 23. After that one more muslin outfit is due each week for the next four weeks. There is so much to do that I broke each outfit down into steps and have made myself a schedule starting last Friday until the 20th of November to ensure that I can get it all done.

I went to work in the lab on Friday late afternoon for a few hours to drape one dress and part of another dress. Draping involve developing the garment in muslin right on the “Judy” or dressform. By pinning and cutting and drawing on the muslin you shape the garment and then use the resulting pieces of muslin to transfer to paper to create the pattern.

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While I was there working I chatted with a student who was working on the research requirement of her collection development. Each student must interview some industry professionals (designers, buyers, retailers) to collect information about the market for their collection and their customer. I was very disheartened to hear how frequently this student had been refused by retailers and other professionals in the city when asked if she could come and interview them for her project. I even overheard her making calls trying to secure an interview with someone to fulfill this component of her capstone. She was polite and professional but clearly was not getting much kindness and assistance from the people on the other end of the phone.

Every industry professional (in any industry) should make time when asked, to assist and support young people and students who are working to learn and develop the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their chosen fields. I know that we are all busy but taking to time to help and teach others should always find a place in our schedules. That is why despite having been misquoted may times in my career I always try to make time for journalism students who request an interview. This is how they learn.

Communication Class

All students had to submit their written proposal on Thursday last week.

In my initial consultation with Prof. Ben Barry he suggested that I look at the concept of design thinking. Since then I have amassed quite a collection of books and other resources on the topic of design thinking. In their 2013 book Creative Confidence, David and Tom Kelley describe design thinking as a combination of empathy, creativity and rationality….empathy in understanding the problem, experience or need, creativity in the development of ideas, and rationality is selecting the best idea to put into action.

In my project I am going to explore how we can use design thinking to inform our work serving and supporting students. The In Their Shoes Project mirrors very closely the empathy dimension of  design thinking. As Kelley and Kelley state…

Being Human-centered is at the core of our innovation process. Deep empathy for people makes our observations powerful sources of inspiration. We aim to understand why people do what they currently do, with the goal of understanding what they might do in the future. Our first person experiences help us form personal connections with the people for whom we are innovating.

The In Their Shoes Project is all about engaging with students and having a first person experience of some of their experiences, so I am really looking forward to reading more about how the “empathy” dimension fits within the construct of design thinking.

This fall my spare time, evenings and weekends are all about cutting and sewing muslin and reading about design thinking. So far it has been fun.