Sources of Inspiration in Industrial Practice. The Case of Knitwear Design

Eckert, Claudia and Stacey, Martin (2003). Sources of Inspiration in Industrial Practice. The Case of Knitwear Design. Journal of Design Research, 3(1) doi:10.1504/JDR.2003.009826.



Drawing ideas from previous designs and other sources of inspiration is a universal part of all human designing, but the forms that adaptation takes, and the ways it is conceptualised both differ between industries. This paper describes how sources of inspiration are used in commercial knitwear design. Knitwear designers actively search for sources of inspiration, which they use both to define the space of designs that will meet their purposes and tune their tacit perceptions of what is appropriate, and in the development of individual designs. They employ active strategies for guiding their idea generation actions to produce the ideas the situation requires. Knitwear designers routinely use a very broad range of sources of inspiration, and are explicitly aware and open about how they use them. Identifying a good source is often the key creative step in knitwear design, and being able to do this well is a vital skill for a designer. The paper makes some provisional generalisations about the structure of design processes driven by thinking with sources of inspiration, to provoke and facilitate comparisons with other industries.

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