A New Kind of Apparel Project: Designing for Faculty

Abby Gardner's design for Sauman Chu

Apparel design freshmen in ADES 2221 were recently assigned an unusual project: design an outfit for a College of Design faculty member.

“This class is an apparel design student’s very first exposure to apparel design research and the design process,” explained Teaching Specialist Lindsey Strange. “I wanted to challenge them to design for someone different from themselves, for someone they are unfamiliar with,” she continued.

Reaching out to her colleagues, Strange recruited six faculty members to help with her project. “Having the students design for one of my colleagues meant that I could give them more guidance through their design process. It also meant that students would be working with someone who is familiar with design-thinking and conducting research.”

Abby Gardner's mood board for Associate Professor Sauman Chu.

Abby Gardner’s mood board for Associate Professor Sauman Chu.

Students divided into six different groups, one for each of the faculty volunteers. The faculty members then visited the class so that the students could interview them. Once the interviews were completed, students conducted background research based off of the interviews with their faculty member.

“They researched their faculty member’s background, the topics and ideas mentioned during the interview session, really anything to help them select inspiration for their designs,” said Strange.

Barred from using other pieces of clothing as inspiration, students were challenged to create their mood boards by pulling from less conventional sources.

“Students pulled from faculty members’ favorite books and authors to favorite colors and patterns, in order to create around 20 design options,” said Strange. “One interesting turn was that each group of students seemed to focus in on a particular aspect of a faculty member, like a favorite color, but each one incorporated that information differently,” she continued.

Outfit design for Virajita Singh

Madison Nelson’s design for Adjunct Assistant Professor Virajita Singh

Through class critiques and feedback from Strange, students whittled down their designs to just one. Once final designs were selected, students then presented them to the class, with some special guests in attendance.

“A few of the faculty members who acted as design subjects sat in on the final presentations. It was a great opportunity for the students to see a variety of critique styles,” commented Strange.
Beyond the research and critique process, the project taught students a lesson that they will carry with them throughout their careers, “Learning how to design for someone else and meet the individual’s needs through your own design style is invaluable.”



  • Maureen

    What a great idea! Getting students to think outside their own experience and comfort zone and including other faculty to help as the research subjects…. brilliant!

  • Karen LaBat

    Such a great idea—now I want to see all of the designs!

    Dr. LaBat

  • Obe O

    As a future design student, this is really brilliant because it is starting in the freshmen year and jumping right into making items for others. Starting early…Nice. So looking forward to Sep 2017.

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