THE RESEARCH PROCESS: An Explosion of Ideas…

28/01/15 – DISRUPT TO CONSTRUCT WORKSHOP – An Explosion of Ideas! In order to begin to drive the initial inductive stages of our research process we were given a workshop centred around the premise of exploding our ideas, to maximise the creative potential of our initial thought processess.  This was all about being open and abstract, to transgress the confines of logic, reason and normative imaginaries. Ultimately the idea of mapping these abstractions was to reflect on our ideas, interests and inspiration and to trigger connections previously unconsidered.

CORNELIA PARKER The artist Cornelia Parker was used as an example to contextualise this inductive approach to creative research production. This particularly resonated with me as Parker significantly influenced the research i developed during my A.Level Art studies.  The central concept behind Parker’s work as an artist is innovation through disruption. Taking traditional ‘signs’, Parker displaces them from their natural order within the public imaginary, to transform them into something new and unexpected. For example, arguably her most famous piece ‘Cold Dark Matter’ originally existed as a garden shed, which Parker subsequently exploded and reconstructed to create something completely detached from it’s original formation.  It is this ethos which should prevail within the initial stages of any creative research process in it’s quest for innovation.


In this session we created a series of brainstorms focused around different objectives which were designed to explode our ideas. The ten minute time constraint was designed to prevent over-thinking, to allow our ideas, themes and inspirations to flow as organically and abstractly as possible.

1. Research Reflections – Based on my experience of 7001/7002 what did I like or not like doing?

2. Fashion: What do I love about it? – This brainstorm was designed to draw out themes, interests and inspirations.

3. The Big FMP Vision: Initial Thoughts: This brainstorm was designed to uncover where we were at in terms of thinking about our FMP.  Although it could be argued that this is restrictively deductive at this early stage of the research process, it is important to loosely visualise our potential end goal since this module is actively designed to form the foundation of our FMP.

3. SWOT Analysis: Personal Skills, Talents and Interests – We were additionally tasked to create two rough SWOT analysis applicable to the requirements of 7003 Reflection and Development and 7004 Professional Practise and Creative Project Management.  The 7003 SWOT analysis was focused around personal skills, talents and interests, and allowed me to cast a critical eye over my abilities in relation to my experience of 7001/2.  This SWOT will serve as a point of reference during this research process to ensure that I exploit my strengths and build on my weaknesses to ensure that I do not fall into any of the traps which limited the effectiveness of my research last term. (For example, the lack of technical design skills which prevented me communicating my creative vision).

For our WORK IN PROGRESS on the 6/02/15 we are expected to presented a reconciled version of these SWOT diagrams, alongside a handmade, tactile, exploratory ‘WHAT DO I LOVE ABOUT FASHION’ Focus Board. 


Part of the feedback I received with last terms mark, critiqued my organisation and the subsequent difficulties I faced staying in control of large volumes of work, which often limited the quality of my research outcomes.  To limit this threat this term I intend to produce a weekly to do list which will be documented on this blog.

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As previously stated in my last ‘Research Process’ blog post, I intend to structure my research process this term using Hilary Mantel’s creative methods framework.  It is Mantel’s contention that successful research in the creative industries is dependent on the transition from an INDUCTIVE to a DEDUCTIVE approach. Inductive reasoning in the initial stages of the research process is widely upheld as crucial to mind-flow, driving creativity and generating ideas.  Open-ended and unstructured, methods such as brainstorming and exploratory primary and secondary research, allows the researcher to fully access and document their initial abstract thought processes and inspiration. This is in comparison to a fully deductive approach, where a topic and outcome is decided upon from the outset which all research becomes catered towards; an approach considered largely uncreative and static as it remains confined within an individuals existing frames of knowledge. However, Fashion is an incredibly fast paced industry, presenting a business context which quite frankly does not have the time for a completely long-winded, introverted, abstracted creative process.  More importantly, as Mantel notes there is a marked difference between CREATIVITY and INNOVATION which rests on the implementation of ideas.  Creativity can only be transformed into Innovation if our ideas are synthesised, refined and communicated to an audience in an accessible way. Otherwise these ideas continue to float in the mind with as much value as what you had for dinner last night.  Transition to a deductive approach is central to reconciling this tension and escaping the confinement of creative purgatory.  Taking the abstract ideas and inspiration generated by initial inductive methods, the researcher begins to reflect and make connections.  This process of conceptualisation results in the development of a research question; a deductive method which serves to structure the remainder of the research process, resulting in a synthesised outcome.  However, it is important to remember that a deductive approach is about STRUCTURE rather than ORDER; research should not be confined within too rigid a vision, and there should still be a degree of freedom and exploration.  Only through this framework, can we be expected to balance these creative and business requirements largely unique to the fashion industry,  to produce quality research of breadth and depth in the time available. The final component of this research framework, which is not explicitly mentioned by MANTEL (2011) but which I know from my past experience is integral to the production of quality research, involves REFLECTION.  The buzzword of this module, this is something which should be enacted at each stage of the process/ upon the completion of every research task, to ensure the success of the other 7003 buzzword DEVELOPMENT. Only through continual reflection can you ensure that remain on the path to fulfilling not only your personal objectives, but most importantly those of your client.  Whether this is a hypothetical or a live brief, knowing your audience (client and/or consumer) is integral to an industry to designed to cash in on emotion and identity. This positions REFLECTION as the most important component of any fashion-orientated research process.


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