Fashioning Space:
Transforming the Use of Textiles and Their Inherent Properties by Integrating Spatial and Garment Design Practices in Space Design and Fabrication

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis aims to transform and extend the use of textile as a construction
material in spatial design by integrating garment design practice. It builds on
current research which explores how—rather than making new materials—
material innovation occurs through transforming ways of material handling;
by working with materials’ inherent properties rather than in opposition to
This thesis speculates about the integration of currently separate disciplinary
practices as a strategy for transformation and innovation in textile use, and
as a way of knowing and producing knowledge. Therefore, it is important to
understand how integrating spatial and garment design practices can extend
and transform spatial designers’ use and understanding of the potential of
textiles’ and their inherent properties. Furthermore, to consider how
integration happens, or can happen, in practice.
To answer these questions required an interdisciplinary approach in and of
itself. Research ‘through’ practice was a crucial mode of inquiry in this design
research: it allowed engagement with tacit and practical/experiential
knowledge in addition to the imagining and creating of new realities.
The dominant research strategy was an interdisciplinary ‘through’ practice
strategy implementing concepts of reflective practice, experiential learning
and designers’ ways of knowing into Repko’s (2008) interdisciplinary
research framework. In a pilot stage, and then in a design project, this
strategy encompassed reflexive design, making and learning activities using
virtual and physical materials and models.
I intended to reflect on that integration happened in my own reflexive design
practice by comparing data generated and collected from my own practice
with that collected from other designers’ practices. Hence, a case study
strategy of the same project, designed by other designers (design students),
Fashioning Space
augmented and reflected upon this research ‘through’ practice. This case
was studied through participant observation and follow-up interviews.
By reflecting on resulting interdisciplinary design processes, methods,
outcomes and insights, this thesis indicates that achieving integration is not
automatic when bringing two disciplinary practices together. Also, that the
conditions in which it is achieved are those of being situated in context (e.g.
in a design project) and experiential learning (of textile handling) involving
interaction with members of the community of practice. Furthermore,
experiential learning is shown to be the activating mechanism for achieving
This thesis develops a ‘Fashioning Space’ way of thinking as an extended
and transformed understanding and use of textile and its potential in spatial
design practice. This work prepares the ground for further research into the
rich territory of integrated garment and spatial design practices. Furthermore,
this thesis demonstrates how design, as a way of thinking through material,
can be positioned within the design research context; and how design, as
continual cycles of experiential learning and reflection-in-action, can be a
strategy to achieve integration of practices.
Date of Award20 Feb 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Edinburgh
SupervisorEd Hollis (Supervisor)

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