Tactility and experience as transformational strategy
The Awareness Project investigates the following question: Can dialogue tools that challenge tactile competencies support the development of fashion and textile design in a sustainable direction? In this article, we pay special attention to user engagement and design education and discuss experiences of tactile sensibility as a means to create increased awareness about the material quality of textiles and garments. The aim of our research is to develop new dialogue tools to be used in the teaching of fashion and textile design students in order to stimulate new ways of thinking and engaging with users. By employing participatory methods in the field of fashion and textiles, we seek to develop an alternative transformational strategy that may further the design of products and services for a more sustainable future.
In the initial theoretical section, we define tactile sensibility, which is at the core of our research question. Next, we take a closer look at what constitutes an experience and how scholars in the field of fashion and textiles connect this to sustainability issues. Subsequently, we describe the methodical basis of the dialogue tool and our empirical material. We base our discussion on two experiments conducted as part of the Awareness Project.
The outcome of the study shows new ways of establishing dialogue between users and designers, as well as furthering reflection and verbalization of areas within the perception of textile and fashion products that are often considered “tacit knowledge” and a “tacit experience”.
Finally, we conclude that if designers wish to promote change related to sustainability, it is likely that an embodied participatory dialogue that builds on the combination of user experience and tactile sensibility can be further developed into didactic tools to support a “new design paradigm” and eventually contribute to changes in the fast fashion system.