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Incorporating Research into the Creative Process

Photo : Gareth Cowden

Research is important for understanding human behaviour and the emotions behind certain decisions they make. The main purpose of research is to inform action, to prove a theory, and contribute to developing knowledge in a particular field or study. However, research is not only conducted on human behaviour and can be used to study the behaviour of animals or nature or even statistics. For the purpose of Experiencing the Creative Industries, we learnt about Business Research and how research can aid business development and growth.

Business Research is the process of finding out about people’s likely behaviour by questioning and observing them through methods such as questionnaires, focus groups and various other methods. Nevertheless, we need to be able to take it a step further than just observing. The need to be able to guide our decisions with the information gathered can help in making predictions as the levels of uncertainty can be reduced. For these reasons, businesses incorporate research into their respective creative processes.

For research to be effective and as accurate as possible, there are key factors that need to be achieved. It is essential that the correct sample group is researched. This is a group of people who best represent what we need to learn or what questions need to be answered. Analysis of the findings is also imperative. Without a good understanding of the data found, it would be difficult to make any key decisions based on this data.

When conducting Business Research it is important to take notice of what people say, but also the way in which they say it. There are often clues in people’s behaviour while answering questions that provide further insight into what they are saying. Non-verbal communication will be discussed in a future blog.

These classes have been very helpful for us for gathering information for our upcoming personal research projects. Visocky O’Grady (2017) state that there are two unmistakable categories of gathering data – qualitative and quantitative research. Whereas quantitative research deals with objective data such as numbers and logic, qualitative research deals with subjective materials such as words and images. Qualitative research is most commonly used for creative pursuits. Visocky O’Grady (2017) also discuss primary and secondary research. Primary research refers to research that is original and project specific, such as conducting surveys or focus groups. Secondary research involves the review of data or findings that have previously been published.

My personal research project will require both primary and secondary research. The secondary research will involve a literature review on cultural missapropriation, to explore what has already been researched and written on the subject. The primary research most likely be interviews or surveys with people within the design field as well as figures representing cultures. My area of interest is cultural appropriation in design more particularly fashion design due to past experiences and interesting examples I have observed previously. I found the Louis Vuitton and Burberry cases very interesting and close to home. More recently I found a case concerning Comme des Garcons interesting too.

Louis Vuitton’s Basotho Blanket inspired shirt. Photo – Louis Vuitton
Basotho people wearing their blankets in Lesotho
Photo – Elsette Strachan

However, I still don’t know what my hypothesis is going to be and how I will make my research relevant and of value to the design field. But classes like this help me in narrowing down what I need to learn and the methods available to me to aquire this data. Learning more about research and conducting my own research definitely excites me. For the D&Ad ad campaign on climate change I conducted a small amount of primary research questioning young people in South African township’s attitudes towards sustainability. Although it was very basic, I enjoyed the process and look forward to conducting more extensive research for my personal research project.  

References –

Visocky O’Grady, J. (2017). A designer’s research manual: Succeed in design by knowing your clients and what they really need (Second ed.) Rockport


Published by fortysomethingrebirth

I am a South African from Jo'burg. I love football, music (mainly from the Caribbean) and design. I am currently studying a Masters of Managing in the Creative Economy at Kingston University in London.

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