Engaging with users: Developing tactile dialogue tools for fashion and textile design students

Vibeke Riisberg, Anne Louise Bang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract in proceedingpeer-review


Textiles are a part of a global fast fashion system that launches several collections over a year. Research from consumer and wardrobe studies has shown that consumers often wear their clothes only a few times. This has a tremendous impact on the environment. In order to meet this challenge we need to change the education of future designers. This is an emerging field at a number of design schools across the world, among these Design School Kolding in Denmark. In this paper we discuss ways in which we as design educators can teach fashion and textile students ways to engage with users during the creative process. To a large degree it is not common to engage direct with users in fashion and textile design. However, we see an increasing interest in this subject among the design students and also in recent research within fashion and textiles. We therefore argue that there is a need for participatory approaches that are developed specifically for these design disciplines, where there traditionally is more focus on materiality and sensuous experiences than in other design disciplines. Also the user experience of textiles as part of garments is of a special character, since the object is in direct contact with the biggest sense organ – our skin. Thus, the aim of our research is to develop new dialogue tools for teaching fashion and textile students in order to stimulate new ways of thinking and engaging with users. By developing and employing participatory design methods in the field of fashion and textiles, we seek to point at the need for alternative transformational strategies that may further the design of products and services for a more sustainable future.This paper is based on the Awareness and Design for Change projects, where we conducted a series of experiments with high school students exploring their experience of clothes taking a starting point in tactile (and embodied) sensibility. By moving the designer’s focus from the production phase to the use phase, the project seeks to create new paths that can strengthen the experience of garments without increasing the material consumption – a point strongly made by Fletcher in relation to sustainability.We discuss fashion and sustainability from a textile point of view emphasizing the role textiles and materials play in the experience of garments. In this paper we discuss ways in which design education might contribute in changing the current professional culture in order to meet the need for more sustainable futures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Fashion Thinking Conference 2014
Number of pages1
Publication date30 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventFashion Thinking - SDU, KADK and Designmuseum Danmark, Kolding, Denmark
Duration: 30 Oct 20141 Nov 2014


ConferenceFashion Thinking
LocationSDU, KADK and Designmuseum Danmark

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