MA Design for Textile Futures

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  • Objectives
    Through the course and your personal project you will develop a creative and innovative design portfolio; a critical agenda and a focused design philosophy; and a network of professional contacts related to your project and career aspirations. You will also develop design project management and team working skills. In relation to your project, you will have investigated the latest material and technological developments and have acquired information on the future directions of the textile and fashion markets. You will also have produced a written report, which presents a pertinent viewpoint of the textile discipline and demonstrates your ability to research and support your arguments to a professional standard.
  • Entry requirements
    The course suits both recent graduates seeking to develop their skills and expand their market awareness, and experienced designers wishing to challenge their careers. Primarily aimed at textile designers, it also attracts applicants from related design disciplines. Students with a background in design, fine art, architecture, interactive design or product design are welcome to apply, provided they can demonstrate that their aspirations are compatible with the course rationale and the textile discipline. The course is demanding and challenging and will benefit most those who are prepared to question their contribution to the design discipline and who aim at becoming leading designers/consultants. Once on the course students will be expected to demonstrate creative design skills, develop strategic design thinking, be independent, flexible, and prepared to respond to challenge with a mature and professional attitude.
  • Academic title
    MA Design for Textile Futures
  • Course description

    The 21st century marks the beginning of a new textile revolution, and we believe it is smart, invisible, sustainable, ethical and poetic. Smart? The emergence of intelligent technologies such as conductive textiles, sensory fabrics, wearable computing, biomaterials, nanotechnology demand greater collaboration between science and design to transform textile design processes and products. Invisible? New fibers and finishings create textiles with invisible built-innovative functionality such as vitamin-enhanced fabrics, anti-stress fibre, solar-reactive yarns and composite materials. Sustainable? Increasing demands to consider sustainability necessitate more responsible approaches to textile design. Issues of production, waste and post-consumption drastically change potential design processes and outputs. Ethical? Demographics, globalisation, changing consumption patterns that impact on markets can be challenged by design. Poetic? Human need for inspiring aesthetics and comforting material persists. The aesthetic and emotional qualities of cloth and craft become even more relevant in a high-tech, high speed consumer culture.

    The world of textiles needs dynamic designers who can propose and realise intelligent, responsible innovations with strategic thought, leadership and personal vision. We provide a think-tank in which to cultivate ideas, reflect on individual practice, and challenge boundaries of textile design. Students investigate issues affecting the textile design discipline in the short, medium and long-term future. Practice-led, the course initiates and encourages design innovation. Joint lecture programmes and projects with other Masters courses such as Industrial Design, Creative Practice for the Narrative Environment and Design: Ceramics, Furniture or Jewellery (by Project) foster a creative and challenging multidisciplinary environment, nourishing experimental and innovative hybrid design practices. We support textile designers with the potential to shift existing design boundaries, re-shape how we live and create the textiles of tomorrow.


    The course is structured around three different units, which enable students to gradually build on their design skills and critical judgement.

    The course shares part of its programme with a pool of other postgraduate courses: MA Industrial Design, MA Communication Design, MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments and MA Design by Project. Joint Lecture programmes as well as interdisciplinary design projects are designed to foster a creative and challenging multidisciplinary environment and the development of experimental and innovative "hybrid" design practices.

    Attendance is as follows:

    Year 1: Wednesday to Friday
    Year 2: Monday to Wednesday.

    Unit 1
    Critical interrogation of practice
    (4 weeks over 25 weeks)
    The joint postgraduate Critical Context Programme is a multidisciplinary lecture and seminar programme. This programme aims at fostering a critical and analytical perspective of the nature and context of design and culminates in a short multidisciplinary team project and presentation.

    Unit 2
    Design challenge
    (20 weeks over 25 weeks)
    In the first part of the course, students are challenged by a series of design projects which aim at fostering the creation of innovative design proposals and new textiles . Projects may include design related to smart textiles, new materials, interactive design, sustainable textiles, trend forecasting, branding, fashion and/or craft futures. Some of these projects are linked with industry and they differ every year.
    Students will be encouraged to challenge traditional techniques and break conventions as well as to explore new technologies such as laser cutting, ultrasonic welding, digital printing and digital jacquard weave. This is the most intensively taught unit. Students will gain new hindsight on the nature and practice of textile design, through group and individual tutorials with a range of design professionals; and via team projects and design presentations led by practitioners.

    The particularity of this course is that it encourages innovation in textile design by confronting textile design with other design disciplines. For this reason, guest lecturers come from various fields (textile design, craft, fashion, branding, material and environment consultant, fine art, architecture and interaction design, as well as programming, digital art and web and graphic design).

    Unit 3
    Design Future
    (year 1: week 25 to 30 and year 2: week 1 to 30)
    This unit is dedicated to the development and realisation of the personal master project, which has to be located within a chosen 'future'. Students have to produce a body of comprehensive and thorough research with appropriate methodologies. This is mostly a self-directed study time. The justification and critical analysis of the MA personal design project is inherent to the creative process. This should be reflected in the Master thesis which is a critical evaluation of the design project. Students are encouraged to take risks and to produce a body of experimental work before the realisation of the final design work. Work produced at Master level should be original, innovative and sophisticated, and should contribute to advance the discipline of textile design.

    Career Prospects

    Employers have included Adidas, Banff New Media, Castelbajac, Donna Karan, Etam, Hussein Chayalan, Line Consultants, Louis Vuitton, Margiela, Media Lab Europe, Nicole Farhi, Speedo, Ted Baker and Trend Union. Many of our designers have started their own businesses and have won special awards and grants from the Crafts Council, Nesta Pioneer and Texprint. Some of our graduates prefer to develop an academic career and teach in various institutions around the world.

    Students have also gained press coverage in magazines such as Elle Decoration, Crafts, Selvedge, Surface, International Textiles, Viewpoint, View Colour, Frame, Sleazenation and Creative Review. Their work is also included in international exhibitions around the world. Students are also involved in major design exhibitions at key institutions such as the V&A and the Craft Council.

    Industry links

    The course has established various links with industry allowing students to work on international design projects and EU ICT initiatives. The course itself has contributed much to debate around design, both through the media and by organising and delivering papers at international conferences.

    Students are expected to establish their own network of contacts and develop collaborations within industry as part of the development of their Masters project. Students have benefited from collaboration with companies such as Lancel, Louis Vuitton, Nissan Europe, Stella McCartney and Tristan Webber.

    In the first year, a selection of design projects are organised jointly with industry or with another research institution. For example, in 2004/05 the course will be working with Medialab Europe on a smart textiles project.

Other programs related to fashion design

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