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The Design Process - From Crisis to Creativity

How to navigate the design process from crisis to creativity, with real world design project experience from Design Industry Expert Andrea Amistadi. Andrea explains more:

Being that this year’s Design Ventura competition relates to the theme of move I want to share a project, which my friend and I worked on while being design students. The assignment was to develop a contemporary dance costume whose shape had to change when being used.

Where do we start? Research!
We researched the concept of movement in different disciplines: art, dance, everyday objects and fashion, as we needed to understand how to translate that into a costume. Our first source of inspiration ended up being a Chinese lantern and how its shape and dimension change when you start playing with it.

Inspiration and ideas!
1.       Op-art and kinetic art: colours and shapes to create optical illusions.
2.       Fashion: we needed to know what’s already out there.
3.       Contemporary dance: we had to understand the body in movement in order to create a costume for it. As a designer, you think about needs.
4.       Materials: soft, light, flexible and stretchy to allow movement.
5.       Colours: bright, they needed to be seen.

Once we had enough information we created a prototype and tested it. Is it easy to wear? Is it too heavy? Does it actually change its shape? What isn´t working? We had a long process of testing, implementation, evaluation and redesign.

Crisis
Four days before our deadline, things weren’t going that well, we received terrible feedback when showing the prototype, it didn´t look good or interesting and it wasn´t working properly either. We were running out of time and freaking out. We started the project having a great idea, but by the end there was tension and we needed to find a quick solution if we wanted to make it work.

How do you move on from crisis?
First we needed to identify the problem. We asked for feedback, we went back to our research. We tested some of the solutions and realised that by changing the materials we would gain more flexibility and reduce the weight. So now we needed to refine the design which meant building it from scratch... Ahhhhh!!!!

We spent the next three days sewing, making the weirdest dance moves, taking pictures, eating loads of crisps, not getting much sleep and also having fun.

What we learnt from this experience?

The design process is not a linear path; it’s all about keeping an open mind, finding ways to improve, being critical and researching. You might need to go back to the beginning sometimes to find a solution but that’s the way it works. Be open to opinions, curiosity and experiment. Talk to your team members, teachers and share your ideas with people that are not involved in the project, so you´ll get a fresh perspective. Ideas and solutions come from the most unexpected places, so keep your eyes open.

So what happened in the end with our contemporary dance costume? Well… it ended up being published in a fashion and arts magazine and also was featured as part of an exhibition showcasing new products and trends of young designers. We were very proud in the end but it is the memory of that very long weekend when everything ‘clicked’ together, working as part of a team and having fun what we still remember the most.