Feature Friday 1: Book Review

Basics Fashion Design 01: Research and Design: by Simon Seivewright

If you’re interested in design, fashion or otherwise, Basics Fashion Design 01: Research and Design by Simon Seivewright is a great book to keep handy. It’s small, portable, and brimming with a wealth of information on the research and development of a fashion collection. It’s a great book for beginners and students especially, but even I still find myself referencing the text when I’m experiencing a creative block or need a refresh on types of research to conduct when seeking inspiration for a collection. Even if you are not a designer of fashion, the concepts on brainstorming, idea-generation, and how to compile your research are great tools to use to help you through any design process. The chapters are concise, very quick to reference, and chock-full of colorful examples of the design process - from mind-maps to mood boards to finished garments. There are even interviews with contemporary designers working in the fashion industry that delve into the designer’s research process and why it’s important, sources of inspiration, and how this information translates into their finished work. I highly recommend this book for new and seasoned designers alike, as it is full of valuable ideas and a wonderful reference material to have on-hand whenever a creative block might strike.

As the book describes it:

“Research is the fundamental success to any design-related project and in Research and Design you are taken through a series of chapters that explain firstly the constraints you may have as a designer and then what research is. Why you research and where you research. The book then moves into design development and the processes that you need to explore as a designer to maximise the information gathered in the research. The final chapter discusses the varied ways you can communicate and illustrate your design work.”

Covers subjects including:

“What a brief is, types of briefs, brainstorming, choosing a theme or concept, primary and secondary sources of research, drawing, collage, juxtaposition, deconstruction, analysis of research, model and drape, fabric, recycled garment manipulation, ideas generating exercises, development of individual garments, editing ideas, templates, working drawings, art materials, use of media and mark-making, illustration, layout and composition.”

This book is part of the BASICS Fashion Design series, which also includes Textiles and Fashion, Construction, Developing a Collection, and Fashion Drawing

-- Catherine

Considerations 1: Intent of Design

When we think of product design, how often do we consider the intention behind it?

Intent: /in’tent/


1.    Resolved or determined to do something

    •    Attentively occupied with

2.    Law. The state of a person’s mind that directs his or her actions toward a specific object


Intent from the designer’s point of view is a state of determination to create something, to solve a problem, to raise awareness, or to birth beauty into the world.

When we look at intent from the user’s perspective, the user interprets the design by first drawing on their personal experience, and then combining that with their initial understanding of the designed object.  While an object may be designed with a particular user and use case in mind, the end product is not always viewed through the same lens as the designer.

Mix in deadlines and tight budgets with poor communication, and you have a recipe for disappointment.

The perfect example of this, something we get to experience everyday and something widely cited in design circles, is the design of an entry door.

 Photo by  Alan Levine  CC BY 2.0 - This is a Norman Door.  

Photo by Alan Levine CC BY 2.0 - This is a Norman Door.  

There are many types of doors, and just as many ways to open or close them. It is a simple enough concept - the door should open and shut with ease - but the way in which a door is made does not always make it easy to discern how it functions.  

A walking person has maybe 3-4 seconds to recognize there's a door, locate the knob/pull/handle, then decide what to do with it before they have to break their stride.  (The horror!)

Without additional signage, a knob, a latch, or a bar could be both pulled open or pushed open. We’ve all experienced walking up to a door, trying to pull/push it, only to find out it operates the exact opposite of what we expected. Without any markings, signage, or verbiage relaying the specifics on the mechanics of the door, the user is left up to trial and error. This is not only frustrating, but it is the sure sign of a poor design.

So what can we, as designers, do to avoid misinterpretation of our products?

Don Norman, author of “The Design of Everyday Things”, says things should be designed in a such a way that users do not even have to think about what they are going to do with them or how they are going to use them.

He mentions two specific design principles which should always be considered when designers are creating objects for human use: Discoverability, which means the user should be able to discover how to use an object simply by looking at it, and feedback, as in the user receives a signal of what happened (e.g. a sound, a light, some signal of something happening).

He also stresses that designers should observe real people doing a task in order to create and develop a user-friendly design. Thoughtful observation of real people in every day life will help to shape the intent of the end product by influencing the designer to create something easy to use.

When we bring awareness to our work through observing the people around us, we become inspired by, and deeply connected to, the world in a way that enables us to design objects properly, with good intention, bringing joy, to the everyday.

- Catherine

3D Printed CMS Becomes Mainstay On The Big Bang Theory

Fermilab scientist Dr. Don Lincoln sent two 3D Printed CMS detectors to the set of the Big Bang Theory, and now it is visible on a desk in Bernadette's living room.  Screenshots ©CBS.

First episode aired October 26th, 2015.  First appearance at ~3 minute mark.



Chicago-area public television network WTTW's news program Chicago Tonight is somewhat known for its collection of important memorabilia displayed on a bookcase in view behind round table participants.

Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL) has donated one of its 3D printed CMS detectors, as well as a 3D printed replica of Wilson Hall, the main office building at FNAL.


The 3D Printed models can be seen in the upper right of the first image.