Academic journal article Educational Research for Social Change

Examining Aspects of Self in the Creative Design Process: Towards Pedagogic Implications

Academic journal article Educational Research for Social Change

Examining Aspects of Self in the Creative Design Process: Towards Pedagogic Implications

Article excerpt


I am a practising jewellery designer and artist who lectures at a university of technology in Durban, South Africa. One of my lecturing duties is to teach my students how to design and manufacture jewellery-not only conventional jewellery that can be sold in commercial jewellery shops, but contemporary jewellery that engages with a "diverse range of contemporary social, environmental, technical or artistic trends" (Quiekenden, 2000, p. 1). Developing unique contemporary South African jewellery could play a part in the long-term growth of the jewellery industry and contribute to social change by creating an awareness of, and cultivating an appreciation of, local and indigenous resources. I feel that this can be achieved if we, as designers, were to draw on our personal and private lives and then incorporate these influences in our creative design process. I want to encourage this personalised approach to the creative process by formulating briefs that include a private or personal aspect with my students in the jewellery design studio.

The objective of my research, therefore, is to gain an understanding of my own creative design process in relation to the development of contemporary South African jewellery, and to explore the pedagogical implications inherent in this understanding. I use autoethnography to examine my creative process because it affords me the use of "personal experience to examine and/or critique cultural experience" (Holman Jones, Adams, & Ellis, 2013, p. 7), particularly as designing jewellery necessitates an awareness of the various roles that it can play within one's culture: those of portable wealth, indicator of status, and spiritual mediation (Metcalf, 1989).

Initially, I attempted to catalogue all the creative design objects in my office, but it became a quagmire that immobilised me because there were too many leads to follow and the underlying network became too dense. So, I decided to focus on one of the objects highlighted in an exhibition: the cameo prints.

Creativity and Why It Is Important

Creativity is the ability to produce outcomes that are original and appropriate (Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004, p. 91) and can be assessed in terms of the 4P model as proposed by Rhodes (1961), where he suggests that one can evaluate creativity by examining the nature of the product, the personality of the person, the nature of the processes employed, and the relationship to the environment (press).

Of interest to me, are the role of play and the impact of serendipity on the creative process. The importance of play, regarding creativity, was emphasised by Winnicott (1989) when he stressed that "it is in play, and only in play, that the person is able to be creative and to find herself" (as cited in Creme, 2003, p. 273). For the purpose of this article, I define play as a series of connected events that provide pleasure (Eberle, 2014) and revolve around "non-serious" (Huizenga, 1970, p. 5) exploration which is "goal-directed and rule-bound" (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991, p. 71)

Serendipity is the act of finding interesting or valuable things by chance. It is a type of creativity that results from "synchronicities, fortuitous accidents . . . and fruitful detours" (Bleakley, 2004, p. 472). Johnson (2010) referred to this phenomenon as a "happy accident" and what makes it happy is the fact that the discovery is personally meaningful (p. 109). To recognise the significance of the new discovery appears to require a tolerance of ambiguity (Bleakley, 2004).

I am approaching creativity from a little-c (everyday) point of view, as opposed to a big-C (legendary) point of view (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2010). This means that I explore seemingly insignificant, but personal, everyday experiences that can be used as a resource in the creative design process. This is in reaction against how I was taught to design creatively, where there seemed to be an inordinate emphasis on Eurocentric visual references that I did not relate to, accompanied by a rigidly imposed design process with apparently no room for serendipity or play. …

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