Cultural probes, also known as diary studies, is one of the research approaches to gather information from people and their activities which is useful in the early design process. In order to learn about this research method, I had observed my classmate Tan on 28/10/2017 (Saturday) morning and 30/10/2017 (Monday) evening, trying to find out some fashion insights of her.
Because Tan and I wanted to do some fashion research for our thesis, we made a deal to meet at 10 on Saturday morning at the Misan Textiles, a fabric and textile shop near Oxford Street which lots of fashion designers in the United Kingdom would come to London and visit, to learn about the application of textiles.
On Saturday morning, I texted Tan with Wechat when I just got out my flat at about 9:10, reminding her to meet at 10:00. Tan said that she was about to leave her accommodation, but she couldn’t arrive at 10:00. I said, “That’s ok! Take your time!” After arriving Misan Textiles at about 9:55, I texted Tan again, saying that I was already at the meeting point and asking what would be the actual time she would arrive. Tan said she would hurry up and arrive at 10:30. Therefore, I went to Muji to spend my time and came back to Misan Textiles at 10:30 but still did not see Tan. Then, at 10:35, Tan said she was almost there.
Finally, Tan arrived Misan Textiles at 10:40, saying to me that one of her daily routines is being late. She also said that her friend was so surprised that she made an appointment with me at 10:00 in the morning because she seldom got up so early in the morning. It did not surprise me because in my experiences, whenever I made an appointment with my designer friends, I usually had to wait for 1 to 2 hours. In contrast, when I met with my friends from the management background, I only had to wait for 5 minutes.
Then, we went to Misan Textiles. Tan seemed like not really interested in the fabric of this shop. She said that they were too expensive.
After leaving Misan Textiles, Tan and I visited another shop, Cloth House, which is near to Misan Textiles. The atmosphere in this shop was very relaxing, traditional, cultural, gentle, and filled with ethnic style. Tan said the Cloth House is her favourite fabric shop in London.
Tan had taken some pictures of the fabric, and I noticed that she liked the fabric with gentle colours and simple lines. She also said it was really cute that the shop gathered all kinds of fabric samples and created an ethnic style decoration.
Finally, Tan asked for 2 samples. I found that the fabric she picked was similar to her wearing every day.
After visiting the fabric shops, Tan and I went to Dover Street Market, which is also near to Oxford Street with numbers of designers’ shops inside the building. We did some fashion research on several designers. Tan told me the details and styles of the designers, which informed me that she had a deep knowledge of fashion design industry.
After the whole researching morning, Tan and I said goodbye to each other at 12:30. Then, I went home while Tan was going to a birthday party with her friends.
On Monday, Tan and I met each other again in the evening in LCC, and we went to LCF library together by tube to collect some secondary data for our thesis.
I found some books which I was really interested in, such as Japanese subcultures and the gothic style. I said to Tan that I like the gothic style so much. Then, Tan said “Oh really!” and gave me a strange smile, which suddenly remembered me she had said to me before that she does not like the styles which look bad and evil since she became a Christian. In other words, Tan’s favourite style and mine would always be the opposite.
At the end of the day, Tan borrowed the book “New Fashion and Design Technologies” from LCF.
We talked about the book Tan borrowed using Wechat. She said that she was interested in the chapter that is about technology combining fashion, and the book introduced a lot of new technologies in fashion.
After my cultural probe practice with Tan, I had found out some fashion insights of Tan and compared them with mine, which indeed brought a good result in the end.