An interdisciplinary team of textile, fashion and interaction design practitioners came together to develop costume ideas for the Ingrid Kristensen Dance Group’s Sensing Dance project. This three year research project brought together a broad range of approaches to research in and through dance with the aim of understanding and improving audience engagement with dance performance.


click on the image to go to the pdf of the end of project symposium catalogue on Issuu

(see pp24-27 for our article)


I met Ingrid at an Arcintex Research Network symposium in November 2011, and she invited our team to work with her and the company. Originally interested in our stretch sensing research, resources for this project were very limited and we decided together to focus on the question of engagement through an ‘open’ design methodology which would not necessarily involve smart textiles or interactive garments. This is fully described in a forthcoming paper for the Australian online journal Craft and Design Enquiry (please see the abstract at the end of this page).


The choreography in Sensing Dance was organised around emotions, which in turn were mapped to areas of the body. Our costumes focused on fear (the neck) and longing (the stomach). We used ‘play days’ as an intensive shared design development space, each practitioner bringing materials and prototypes with them to inform the collaborative work.

garment3_09collaboration on the second ‘play day’ focusing on garment forms on the stand 

IMG_3719IMG_3980the costumes in performance

the team

Sarah Kettley – lead; Martha Glazzard – knit; Tessa Acti – embroidery; Fo Hamblin – jewellery; Karen Harrigan – pattern cutting

journal paper abstract (publication date mid-2014)

citation: Glazzard, M., Kettley, S., Acti, T. & harrigan, K. Experiential Collaborations from Garment to Costume: Play, and the Thing as Design Outcome. Craft & Design Enquiry, forthcoming.


Experiential Collaborations from Garment to Costume: Play, and the Thing as Design Outcome


Nottingham Trent University (NTU) textile, fashion and interaction practitioners were invited to collaborate with a Danish dance group to contribute a collection of costumes for performances concerned with emotion and the senses, with the ultimate aim of understanding the qualities of audience engagement with dance. This paper discusses the use of play as a methodology by the designers, and its relationship to the philosophical notion of the thing, or how artefacts are brought into being. This provides a framework for the deliberate attempt to preserve in the outcome of the design process, a level of ambiguity such that the creative engagement of other stakeholders is explicitly supported. Epistemological and methodological developments have been the result of a number of differences: between the practices and experiences of the design collaborators; between the conceptualisation of costume as static and a need for something new, yet relevant to the themes of emotion; and between the designers’ intentions and expectations of how a garment might be used, and the response to the garments from the dancers. Outcomes are discussed as moments in a complex and ongoing process, when meanings temporarily coalesce, only to be opened up again. Such a conceptualisation of design has major implications for how we think about methodology, evaluation, material and expertise.


Collaborative design; experiential design; play; material experimentation; thingliness; emotional design

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