Do You See What I See? Using Ethnographic Methods to Inform Functional Design

Date
2016-11-08
Authors
Tullio-Pow, Sandra
Strickfaden, Megan
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Abstract

All people wear clothes, but dressing is an activity taken for granted until balance and synchronized movements required to do so are lost due to illness, injury, disease, or surgery. Ethnographic methods were used to map the use scenario, examine the clothing context and its meaning to people through field observation of therapy sessions and patient routines with personal support workers (n=46), and interviews with therapists, care workers, and patients (n=34). Results reveal patients' experience related to clothing, disability, and functioning as well as the psychological aspects of clothing. Findings include design recommendations to mediate difficulties people have when dressing through consideration of fabric choices, garment silhouettes, circumference of garment openings, garment fasteners, dual waistbands, pockets, loops, and visual clues to guide garment orientation and product development opportunities. Results of the study may impact fashion designers, specialized product developers, design educators, and rehabilitation therapists.

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