Abstract

Studies around the cultures of design indicate a mutually constitutive relationship designers share with materials when in practice. However, professional designers are not the only ones experiencing proximate relations with materials. With the recent emergence of community-based repair workshops, non-professional designer practices of fixing things like garments reveal sites of active material tinkering possibly aiding transitions in current clothing disposal patterns. Using qualitative research methods and a sociomaterial theoretical lens, this paper takes the mending activities of non-professional menders in communal repair workshops in the city of Helsinki, Finland, as its point of departure. The study identifies these menders as vernacular menders and explores their dynamic practices to reveal the situated, embodied, routinized yet creative process of mending. The created outputs by the vernacular menders result in what is termed informal design and point towards extending mainstream conceptualizations of design and creativity. Taking such a view could help to sketch out new roles for fashion designers in pursuing endeavours to better support mending whilst bringing in positive environmental change.

Keywords:

sociomaterial; vernacular menders; informal design; creativity

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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Jun 25th, 12:00 AM

Designers by Any Other Name: exploring the sociomaterial practices of vernacular garment menders

Studies around the cultures of design indicate a mutually constitutive relationship designers share with materials when in practice. However, professional designers are not the only ones experiencing proximate relations with materials. With the recent emergence of community-based repair workshops, non-professional designer practices of fixing things like garments reveal sites of active material tinkering possibly aiding transitions in current clothing disposal patterns. Using qualitative research methods and a sociomaterial theoretical lens, this paper takes the mending activities of non-professional menders in communal repair workshops in the city of Helsinki, Finland, as its point of departure. The study identifies these menders as vernacular menders and explores their dynamic practices to reveal the situated, embodied, routinized yet creative process of mending. The created outputs by the vernacular menders result in what is termed informal design and point towards extending mainstream conceptualizations of design and creativity. Taking such a view could help to sketch out new roles for fashion designers in pursuing endeavours to better support mending whilst bringing in positive environmental change.

 

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