We caught up with our Designer-in-Residence Matthew Leece, who’s currently in Indonesia. He’s working on designing and prototyping new products with our project participants, including a range of accessories with Patricia that will help people talk about their emotions.
About this Project
Gerakan Kreabilitas will raise awareness, stimulate discussion, effect a change in perceptions, and prove the value of people with disabilities in the economy.
The project is in partnership with the Ketemu Project has been awarded British Council’s Developing Inclusive Economy (DICE) Programme Grant, running from March 2019 to March 2020.
Step one: Playing and Experimenting
We met with Patricia, a fashion designer, at her home in South Jakarta whilst regularly video calling the Graphic Design collaborator Devi in Bali. We spent the first day mind mapping, discussing, debating, drawing, experimenting, planning, playing and eating. Eventually we decided on our final narrative: “A collection of customizable fashion accessory that helps people to illustrate and talk about their emotions.” focusing on Patricia’s more abstract drawings that will be dismantled into separate shapes that can be added, removed, arranged and stacked into forms representing mood and feeling.
Step two: Sourcing Materials
With our initial ideas in place, in the UK I would have then spent the time doing more detailed drawings and beginning the slow process of making the first prototype. Endlessly scouring the internet for materials and manufactures, then waiting for deliveries hoping the samples would be correct and traveling miles to visit the few remaining manufacturers. Fortunately Patricia had already found a crafter to work with us, and with a booming textile industry in Jakarta, we didn’t have to travel far to find the materials we needed.
Arriving at the first market to source our fixings, the atmosphere was more than I had imagined. I’m not sure if you could even call it a market, more like a large shopping center with huge shops each one an aladdin’s cave of specialist parts. Short of time, we put on our blinkers and hopped shop to shop, market to market, carefully and efficiently sourcing our fixings, buckles, zips, feet, lining and leather.
Behind schedule and with one day left of my time on the project, we were still missing our key component – the scuba fabric which would form the main body of the accessories. We utilised every contact we could find and a friend of Patricia’s recommended a market across town. Knowing this was our last opportunity to source the fabric we rushed over, and identified a thin version of the fabric that we could laminate on to some thin foam for the first prototype. Ironically, it later became apparent that the best supplier was back in Bali – where I had travelled from a few days prior!
Having made a collection of fashion accessories in the past, I was aware that back in the UK it would have taken weeks or even months to find a manufacturer and wait for the first sample. You can imagine how surprised I was to return from the shopping trip to find that our crafter had already made a mockup of the design with the speed of a Blue Peter presenter! Recouping precious time, we handed over the material and he was able to get straight to work.
Step Three: Making a Prototype
We wanted the user of the product to be able to customise the accessories to reflect their own mood and emotions using a series of abstract shapes provided. Patricia listened to a variety of music as she drew the shapes, encapsulating a range of emotions, before they were recreated in appropriate fabric. These shapes were digitised and used by Devi in the creation of the lining and packaging, as well as other promotional material.
Everyone pitched in to finish the prototype in record speed. Whilst the project would continue after I had left, we knew that getting this first prototype to work it would be easier for the group to apply the same materials, and processes, to other products in the future. Myself and the team were extremely proud that we had designed a product that could be so personal, whilst being produced on a wide scale.