I had been doing costume and fashion design for some time now but a recent project which I was asked to work on had me running down to the nearest bookstore to brush up on fashion research and design. Nothing beats a shark in our lives to wake us up and push us to the edge of our comfy lives. This universal truth has never been more alive than that day when I got that scary project. It’s scary because I have never worked on that kind of project before and new materials and new construction demands for some level of expertise and specialization on these things.
I was very fortunate to ransack through the thick and intimidating volumes on fashion in the big city book shop and I came face to face with this seemingly unassuming reference book by Simon Seivewright, “Research and Design”. I was immediately drawn to it and was captivated by its meaty and no-nonsense contents and yet the small volume, all of its 175 pages including the index and resource pages, was not only packed with a systematic and street-smart advice on the what and why of research and where to find research but also how to compile your research, the three-dimensional approaches to research, designing from research and finally communicating your ideas. Voila! Truly small but terrible. It seemed like all the wisdom from Edith Head’s long years as a respected costume designer in Hollywood or the life’s work and words from an iconic fashion style guru was encapsulated in that small but definitive work by Mr. Seivewright. What clinched it all for me was the engaging way that the book was laid out. The format is clear and crisp with marvelous photos of creative works by designers that best embodied the design or research principle being featured. Most fascinating is the quotable quotes that both aimed to inspire and stretch the imagination of the readers.
I find this book most helpful in establishing research as the backbone to the fundamental success of any design-related project with focus on fashion. And it has done this very successfully with not only a systematic approach but also a creative format that would appeal to the young designers who grew up in a multi-media and internet-savvy environment. The powerful visuals and the quotable quotes would both inspire and add to the imagination of the fashion student and expert alike.