On Teaching Fashion: ‘Foliage and Decay’

Every year I joke when I make course presentations, that when the controlled assessment paper comes out, there could be such ambiguous titles as ‘Foliage and Decay’ and ‘Entrances and exits’. At this point many students either think I have lost the plot… or probably have switched of whilst I enthuse about what possibly could you do with such an open (probably to them also a slightly dull) title. To my mild amusement, these two themes, albeit with different titles do appear again this year.innovation_brainstorming_wordle_creativity

My point… within the realms of the working world, you will A, not always design for you, and B, not always be personally inspired by a brief that is given to you. But, it is all about what you do with it! I do however rest assured that all the students will begin negotiating their own route forward with a pathway, and into their own niche area. However, I equally will rest assured, that some, not all will probably spend the first few weeks having cursory investigations, many hours on the internet, and probably not really getting anywhere.

This is all great- and the beginning of a design project takes off a varying speeds for different students. So how to I beginning? As this section of the design project risks very much dragging on far too long if structure is not laid in place.

  1. Which? Question could they gain some inspiration from. (they all have to choose one)
  2. Where? Are they going to go for 1st hand study?
  3. Who? Will be their contextual source, and is there enough information out there for them to study in sufficient detail?
  4. What? Do they wish to specialise in, fashion? Textiles? Interiors? Sculpture?

Now, I do risk contradicting myself from an article of wrote in December 2015, after reading M. Sweets article in The Art Quarterly magazine, all about how creative education is becoming to prescriptive. I do however feel the questions above do not tell them what to do, just when they need to have achieved sufficient background knowledge by. I have come across many art courses, laying their curriculum out in pages’ students must do in such prescriptive quantative form. But can you ever win? (I am afraid not) as I have students come to me asking for the safety net amount of page quantities, and measurable such as this.

This seems logical doesn’t it? The majority of educational system they have come across so far has defined prescription. When can learners start self-realising these amounts?

So where next? What I do is split the time up for the students following this initial fact finding questioning. And then I get the students to define (after some suggestion) where they will be and set out a project time frame to cover all elements before producing this final piece. Where will they be then? What will they be doing? I do believe this is a half-way house between structure, and developing autonomy in the design journey they are all about to go on.

And slowly does it, but we all enjoy that element of freedom to explore and develop our own creativity in out work.


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