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Title: Dynamic co-design : investigating how the application of interactive/generative design methods can enhance the value and experience of mass customisations for digitally printed textile products
Author: McDonald, Andy
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: Glasgow School of Art
Date of Award: 2013
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In considering the creative and commercial potential of digital textile printing, existing literature focuses on the opportunities for new aesthetic styles and new business models. With regards to the latter, the overwhelming consensus is that digital textile printing will enable mass customisation based on the ability to print very short runs economically (Ross, 2001; Tippett, 2002; Tyler, 2004, 2005; Cahill, 2005; Fralix, 2006; Nicoll, 2006; Ujiie, 2006). Although a great deal of research and development has concentrated on solutions that enable the custom-fit of garments using body-scanning equipment connected to pattern-making algorithms that compute thousands of variables (Istook, 2000; Ashdown et al., 2004, 2009; Bae & May-Plumlee, 2005; Loker et al., 2005; Wang et al., 2005; Faust & Carrier, 2009; Delamore & Bougourd, 2009; Fang & Tien, 2009), very little attention has been paid to actually customising the print with existing implementations only allowing customers to choose from a selection of static designs. This disparity reveals the gap in knowledge that present research seeks to address and can be explained by the fact that pattern making is inherently based on parametric design rules—therefore ideally suited to being translated into code—whereas print-making has traditionally lacked this formal logic and notation, making it difficult to abstract into the digital environment (McCullough, 1996). Evidence can be seen in the work of those print-makers exploring the creative potential of the technology within a craft context (Treadaway, 2006a). While the digital aesthetic that has emerged—in response to the removal of physical constraints on the use of colour and scale— certainly encompasses a range of new design styles (Fogg, 2006; Ujiie, 2006; Bowles & Isaac, 2009), it has not been accompanied by a significant change in design methods. Despite expressing frustration with the limited capabilities of existing computer interaction, most practitioners still employ a static approach to print design using standard software programs and input devices (Treadaway, 2009). Consequently, the aesthetics of digital print are limited by the capabilities of the design tools, rather than the imagination of the designer as some have suggested. In contrast, a review of contemporary research and practice within the wider context of digital craft identifies a number of product makers in materialbased disciplines (eg: ceramics and silversmithing) who are actively exploring the creative and collaborative potential of similar digital fabrication technologies (eg: 3D printing and laser cutting) by shifting focus from product design to interaction design—either by hacking existing technologies or building their own (Fraser, 2010). Instead of designing static objects, these practitioners are creating dynamic processes according to the principle of abstracting craft (McCullough, 1996); in many cases inviting customers to participate in co-design via virtual interfaces or physical installations. By exploring mass customisation within the context of digital craft, this practice-led research investigates how the design process for digitally printed textiles can be improved through the creative use of interaction technologies and, specifically, how these benefits can be extended to co-design interfaces in order to enhance the retail experience. Using an Action Research methodology, a series of case studies was undertaken to establish and evaluate the concept of dynamic print design—a practice that involves the development of generative algorithms and physical interfaces that embody craft knowledge and enable craft skills. The primary contribution to the field of study is articulated through documentation of these case studies combined with insights derived from reflective practice, customer surveys and designer interviews. The main findings are that dynamic print design expands the creative possibilities for print-makers and, when used within a retail environment to enable co-design, enhances the perceived value of textile products by enriching the customer experience. With this in mind, the main recommendation is that the field of printed textiles must expand to include interaction design methods and programming techniques.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available