Portable Environments – Design Studio

Clothing is our own portable environment. Protective clothing can be the barrier between life and death in many activities. It can protect us from unsafe conditions, harsh environments, help us improve athletic performance and even give us the ability to fly, swim to incredible depth or float in outer space.

In the Design Studio course, students identify and design products, environments and component complexes of broad scope. Beyond fashion and more than functional apparel, these products are both designed and engineered. Students design products ranging from functional apparel to body worn devices and protective gear with a focus on mobility and the use of flexible textile based materials.

What we did

  • Design research
  • Market research and competitive analysis
  • Design brief
  • Concept development
  • Paper draping, pattern making and sewing
  • Ideation and prototping
  • Testing and model making
  • Presentation

Design Research

During the initial unit, students research and explore ideas for a portable, transformable and flexible environment using textiles and lightweight materials. They will also learn the basics of working with fabrics, industrial sewing equipment and the basics of patternmaking.

Ideation and Prototyping

Students complete a creative ideation process to generate alternative approaches to solving the design problem. They sketch many solutions, which are edited down to the most promising approaches. A set of open questions are generated within the class that must be answered in order to pursue one or more of the these designs. Students then create multiple rounds of prototypes and begin testing their solutions and recording results of their learnings.


Each student creates a final design presentation that consists of a completed prototype, poster and process documentation.