Managing creative conversations between designers and consumers

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The paper describes new aspects of a collaborative project which brings together researchers from the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences and the School of Textiles and Design at Heriot-Watt University. It is funded as part of Heriot-Watt’s Creativity, Design and Innovation (CDI) initiative and combines computational expertise with design thinking to investigate how the growing appetite for consumer participation in fashion design can be facilitated and enriched by facilitating web based creative conversations between crowds and designers. The project concentrates on visual forms of communication so as to mirror the highly visual nature of fashion design inspiration. The paper gives an overview of the project design to date before presenting key findings on the communicative certainty of visuals based on two experiments:
The first experiment tested the level of agreement amongst distinct demographic groups when asked to assign visuals from a closed data set of 500 abstract images to 20 terms chosen for being descriptive of material (e.g. textured) and emotive qualities (e.g. enjoyment, pleasure) of fashion. The paper focuses on the results of a second test which explored the communicative certainty of visuals by asking a fresh set of observers to relate the selected visuals back to the original terms. The comparative aspects of this phase 2 analysed the performance of raw selection data against their visual aggregations and have indicated that a scaling up of the project is possible as the communicative certainty of images was found to be broadly equal to that of image collages. With this in mind, the project is now moving towards the challenge of how best to utilize the developed interfaces and algorithms to enable crowds and designers to remotely take part co-design cycles. The project has also highlighted opportunities for the semiotic study of fashion intelligence and the visual communication potential of design itself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFuturescan 2: Collective Voices
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
EventFUTURESCAN - Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Jan 201311 Jan 2013


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • creative communication
  • visual summaries
  • selection behaviour


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