When constructing garments for a body, the question of how to view the pattern becomes crucial. Should it be considered a representation of the body? As a tool or the starting point for designing? As a catalyst that lays between fabric and garment? Or should it be considered a notation of a shape? Arguably, pattern making ought to first and foremost concern the body, then the dress, and then the pattern, or as stated by Andreas Kronthaler of the Westwood studio: “It is not about the pattern, it is all about the body and what the garment does with the body”.
Looking at the above systems of pattern cutting in Chapter 2, it is clear that the dynamics of the body are easily neglected while working within the tailoring matrix paradigm, just as they are when the pattern is viewed as a tool for designing. To move from this static approach towards one that focuses on the body, there is a need to develop a new, more dynamic theory of the body as a base for pattern cutting. Such a model may be based on how the moving body interacts with fabric while being dressed in a manner similar to ancient ways of dressing. This calls for a new approximation of the body that is derived from qualitative measurements of the moving body instead of quantitative measurements of a static body, in order to allow for previously unconsidered aesthetic values, both functional and expressional.
the dynamics of the body are easily neglected while working within the tailoring matrix paradigm, just as they are when the pattern is viewed as a tool for designing.
To develop a new theory based on the notions put forward by Westwood and Sevin-Doering, I will therefore follow a concrete experimental research approach, first for the development of an alternative theory of the body (intended for garment construction), and secondly for the development of a derivative construction method that is exemplified in a number of prototypes that are based on this alternative theory.
Over the past several years, there has been an increased focus on design programmes and programmatic research for propositional knowledge for change in and through experimental methods of practice-based research that are based in the art or design material, itself (cf. Binder and Redström, 2006; Brandt and Binder, 2007; Koskinen et al, 2010).
the definition of experimentation as a method in design research remains both vague and quite different from the definition of the experiment in the science
However, while the emphasis on experimental research with the goal of exploring expressional and aesthetic qualities within the material, itself, may be strong, the definition of ‘experimentation’ as a method in design research remains both vague and quite different from the definition of the experiment in the sciences.. Where experiments in the sciences may commonly be characterised by systematic methods for the testing of hypotheses and validation of theoretical claims based on strict principles, experiments in the arts commonly lack these attributes and refer more vaguely to the uncertainty involved in a physical development process, or focus on how resulting artefacts can lead to new meanings and perspectives through the agency or associations evoked (cf. Biggs and Karlsson, 2010).
Instead of expanding on the relatively vague methodological approaches that build on the open-minded nature of the designerly-thinking designer or the mystical intuitive process of the artist, I will instead conduct research via a more strict use of experimental methodology that is drawn from its definition and character in the sciences, specifically by looking at one of the roots for modern scientific experimentation found in Francis Bacon’s experimental method.
Bacon claimed that many medieval research methods were based on poor reasoning and a biased mindset, leading him to demand a more rigorous scientific method. The mind, he claimed, is too eager to see patterns and too willing to make generalisations which are not necessarily correct. To Bacon, scientific discovery should instead be based on a method that rids itself of such unconscious prejudices, which he grouped together into the four "Idols of the Mind". "Idols of the Tribe" is the tendency to perceive more order in phenomena than actually exists, due to people following their preconceptions; "Idols of the Cave" are weaknesses in reasoning because of personality, desires, and likes. "Idols of the Marketplace" refers to misunderstandings of concepts due to differing meanings in different disciplines, while "Idols of the Theatre" is the instinct to follow academic dogma rather than asking questions about the world (Bacon, 1605).
For art (design) research, the “Idols of the tribe” may, for example, involve making overly broad categorisations about universal user behaviours as a result of ethnographic research. Similarly, the “Idols of the Cave” may mean that the above categorisation of behaviours is the result of the artist’s particular ideological or political convictions. The third of the Idols may involve differences in meanings between concepts such as experiment and theory in, for example, the natural sciences and fine art practice that will lead to different results because one is striving for new methods and definitions, while the other is striving for insights and interpretation. Then, for the “Idols of the Theatre”, an uncritical subscriber to any academic discourse that states something along the lines of I’m a zero-waste pattern cutter, therefore the following is… imposes a certain phantom image onto the world instead of asking questions about the world.
Based on the “Idols of the Mind”, Bacon concluded that truth could be better realised through inductive reasoning by gradually making generalisations based on data accumulated from the world through experimentation, which he saw as a much more subtle form of knowledge than the sense itself.
Following Bacon, then, the method itself works by gradually eliminating alternative hypotheses, by moving inward in a matrix analysis which is based on procedures of constructing tables. These assist in isolating and investigating the form, or cause of a phenomenon that includes a method of presence (essence), a method of divergence and nearby absence, and a method of degrees (comparison).
According to Bacon’s method, this means first listing all “known instances that agree in having this nature” – i.e., garments with construction methods (competing theories) that are based on interaction between the living body and the fabric – and, from them, identifying possible causes (key biomechanical points and directions) that result in a different structural relationship with the body than traditional metric pattern construction methods do. To illustrate Bacon’s point, this list here consists of the following cases based on the moving body in interaction with fabric, among other cases:
Second, there is a need to create another list of cases in which the phenomenon does not occur, that is, cases in which the structure of the garments is not based on an interaction between the living body and the fabric, but nonetheless where such interaction is not completely absent. For example, these may be: