Design is a part of every person’s daily activities. Most of us wake up inside a building which was designed by an architect or builder. Our morning rituals often include interactions with bed linens, personal products, kitchen dishes and utensils, and clothing, all simply or elaborately designed and selected by us to complement our personal style, mood and use. It’s possible to study how all aspects of design affect our lives, but I would like to compare architecture and fashion as I believe that have an equal impact on our lives.
With either discipline, the term “design” may bring to mind the image of an expensive item. Perhaps it is unique and possibly considered avant garde. This can be true, but the term “design” can also include those items which are functional and regarded as plain or uninteresting. Regardless of its appeal to a certain population segment, buildings and clothing are both designed by someone. Decisions have been made regarding the proportions, material selections, and use.
Our homes are often selected after carefully considering many options. That home may be an apartment, townhome, or single family residence but regardless of its location or size, we usually spend several hours, days, weeks or even months selecting the one that we want for ourselves. It’s also true that when it comes to our clothing, many people will spend a significant amount of time browsing through stores to find the correct item which has the right proportions, material and color.
There are some books which have been written about the parallels between these two disciplines. They explore how architecture can help create a fashion brand through elegant stores. Research has been done on how avant garde design and advancing technologies constantly push the creative barriers in both disciplines. There does not seem to be much, if any, research regarding the similar processes that occur in architecture and fashion and if there is an advantage for a student of one discipline to study the other.
A list of topics which can be thoroughly explored between the two include the following:
Quality of construction. Although it’s not always apparent at first glance, most people can tell the difference between a poorly sewn garment and one that will stand up to wear when trying on clothing. The same is true if two identical houses were built side by side, but one consisted of construction shortcuts which would cause deterioration of the building materials while the other was carefully and thoroughly assembled.
Materials. A log cabin would have a completely different feel if it were constructed out of glass and aluminum. An elegant evening gown would also create a completely different image if it were sewn with checked gingham similar to a square dance skirt instead of soft silk.
Process of design. In both disciplines, there is a process of schematic design, design development and construction documents. They consist of sketches, editing and creating a set of instructions for others to carry out. For architecture students, having them work on a sewing project may give them an insight into how important details can be for construction documents. Since clothing is an everyday part of our lives, it may be more familiar to them than the process of constructing an entire building.
Other topics can include: proportion, accessories, environment and context, style and timeliness.
Architects themselves can often be stylish, wearing unique and purposefully selected accessories. They will seek out quality of construction and well thought designs. Fashion designers use architecture as inspiration and sometimes incorporate abstractions of building elements into their designs. Future research and studies may perhaps create a new interaction within these disciplines which will enhance both industries and further educate those professionals within.
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