The mediating role of design knowledge and its relational effects on interactions with fashion objects against the Chinese cultural backdrop

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The mediating role of design knowledge and its relational effects on interactions with fashion objects against the Chinese cultural backdrop

 

Author: Chon, Harah
Title: The mediating role of design knowledge and its relational effects on interactions with fashion objects against the Chinese cultural backdrop
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2015
Subject: Fashion designers -- China -- Shanghai
Fashion design -- China
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Design
Pages: xii, 243 pages : illustrations ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2816326
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8069
Abstract: Designers engage in various activities to shape individual experiences and perceptions into the creation of finished objects, implicating the communication of design intent as an extension of design knowledge. The design object assumes the representational form of this knowledge which is embedded and made cognizable to end-users, emphasizing the dynamic relationship between users and objects. Designers transmit knowledge as design intent, through interactions involving the user and object, allowing individual interpretations to serve as the meaning-making function of design knowledge.Positioned against the phenomenon of fashion, user-object interactions produce meanings to fulfill and establish relevance in specific social and cultural contexts. The consumption process creates a point of negotiation between design intent and user interpretation, utilizing the surface of the body to visually communicate and display the fashion object. The fashion system, as the interplay between the individual and society, requires a critical review of the design process during which design knowledge and its relevant meanings are produced and understood against changing cultural contexts.
This thesis work deeply investigates the role of design knowledge as mediating the interactions between users and fashion objects. Supported by evidence of cultural change affecting the first generation of only-child adults, known as the Post-80s & 90s Chinese, the research analyzes the flow of knowledge as the transaction of meanings from the perspectives of design theory and theory of design practice. A key cultural variable, the Chinese concept of "face", was identified as influencing the aesthetics and tastes of young fashion consumers. To further investigate this concept,a series of pilot interviews were conducted to provide rich, qualitative insights. Young Chinese designers in Shanghai were included in this study to investigate how local designers respond to change and reevaluate their practices to align with the needs of users within their local fashion communities. Their experiences were analyzed to map how design practices generate knowledge of design and influence the creation of meanings. The conceptual framework of this research links the "face" concept (users) to design knowledge (designers) in the transactional system of meanings. A significant branch of design research focuses on the domains of knowledge, which have been identified as epistemology, praxiology, and phenomenology. This research follows a constructivist epistemology of knowledge, taking into account the linking of sensory experiences to produce interpretations of reality. The fashion movement triggers social interactions to become a socially constructed phenomenon embedded with cultural meanings. Designers are creators who communicate and transfer knowledge through design activities and processes, while users interpret this knowledge by relating it to social standards of aesthetics and taste. The object, more specifically the fashion product, is defined and analyzed as an epistemic artifact that elicits emotional responses in consumers. Users, as aesthetic subjects, are seen as active players in the construction of design meanings by embodying a form of dress. They shift knowledge of design into a representation of meanings, which are further communicated and shared through social relations and interactions. This culminates into a transactional system of negotiation between designer and object (embedded meanings), user and object (constructed meanings), user and society (co-constructed meanings).

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