Complexity through combination: an account of knitwear design

Sharp, Helen; Petre, Marian and Johnson, Jeffrey (2006). Complexity through combination: an account of knitwear design. Design Studies, 27(2) pp. 183–222.




Designers immerse themselves in environments rich in inspiration. Previous research has tended to neglect the vital role of sources of inspiration in triggering and guiding designers' activities. This paper reports research which investigates the gathering of inspiration sources and exploration of ideas and hence attempts to understand how inspiration is harnessed. We conducted a progressive series of empirical studies looking at knitwear design: in situ observation; semi-structured interviews; constrained design tasks; and computational modelling. The paper proposes simple general accounts of observed design behaviour and shows how a simple parts-and-relations account can explicate aspects of subtlety and complexity in design.

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