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Sketchbook Page Level 1 Fashion Student

This project is a CETLD funded PhD which aims to develop a conceptual framework of visual research to inform design pedagogy

Researcher: Torunn Kjolberg


This PhD is an ethnographic study of the research that fashion and textile design students do as a part of their design projects, often referred to as ‘visual research’. I am interested in the processes through which students become practitioners in their field. The study explores how students use different methods and sources and how these impact on their processes of learning. The use of museums, particularly the V&A, is key and serves as a case study of a source in visual research.

Research process and methods:

  • A longitudinal study following a group of students from the beginning of their first year to the end of their second year
  • A national questionnaire survey
  • Observation and qualitative interviews


My research so far has revealed a complex interface where research happens: a product of personal and social identities, the objects involved and the methods employed, the sources investigated and the students’ approaches to learning.  Visual research is a constructive and meaning-making activity, which should be both materially and subjectively transformational: visual research changes both ourselves and the objects we work with.