Product Development Students Design for Inclusiveness

Good design is known to be innovative, useful, aesthetic and durable. Students in the Product Development Concentration in the Department of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University incorporate all of these principles along with a focus on inclusivity for consumers with physical and cognitive differences. Students in the AM 475 Product Development Capstone class cover focused market research, technical package development, and an in-depth understanding of all it takes to develop a product with accessibility in mind.

Inclusive design at work

Kristen Morris, an assistant professor in the Department of Design and Merchandising, asked the students to create a clothing line that incorporated inclusive design principles resulting in “products that are accessible to as many users as possible.” The course objectives focus on inclusion, inclusive design and design for social change.

The development of most clothing does not take into account the needs of consumers with physical or cognitive differences. For many, dressing and undressing is unnecessarily difficult due to the lack of adaptive changes in design.

“I ask students to decompress the notion of ‘average consumer,'” Morris said. “We discuss that mainstream clothing brands likely have a set of assumptions about their target market, for example, able-bodied people, lean builds, straight and gender norms, and more.”

Students were tasked with meeting these needs by engaging with community members and then designing with users at the center of their process.

“I do this because I believe that students, as emerging industry professionals, should consider how clothing affects the lives of various people in radically different ways,” Morris said. “I want students to be responsible product developers so that the products they design don’t inadvertently prevent some people from finding enjoyment in using the products they design.”

Morris’ own design research focuses on these principles, and she incorporates this design philosophy into student projects whenever possible to “advocate critical thinking and holistic design solutions.”

“I have observed the benefits of integrating user-centered methods into the classroom to reduce prescriptive design, more motivation to develop iterative ideas and authentic product solutions,” she said. declared.

Technical work and research

During the course, students have completed the entire product development and design process. To begin the project, students established a target market and conducted market research incorporating an in-depth understanding of the consumer as well as an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of competing brands. The end goal was three garments, but along the way the students created a brand with a unique name, logo and brand identity. Branding is carried out, not only in the development of the garments, but also in the labels, hang tags, promotional mockups and the website they have built around their inclusive design concept.

The creation of the garments focused on meeting consumer needs and incorporating these inclusive and adaptive design elements. The ideation started with an inspiration board, progressed to sketches of the clothes, and finally, 3D visualizations of the clothes were created using CLO3D technology. Once final designs are established, students create technical sets for garment development that include line sheets, costs, and usage reports. The students shared their process through social media posts and created websites to promote their process and design ideas.

Functional for people with prosthetic limbs

Colin Humphreys, a senior product development concentration in the apparel and merchandising major, has created a series of pants (joggers, zippered cargo pants, and hybrid pants) that include adaptive features to fit people living with prosthetic limbs. In his research, he uncovered major clothing frustrations for his target market, including clothing that restricts movement, openings that impede the use of prostheses, and a lack of options that excite and convey the style of the wearer.

Humphreys created joggers to address comfort and mobility as well as durability and accessibility. The joggers have a special type of closure for easy dressing and undressing. The hybrid pants can be pants or shorts allowing for wearing options and customization as needed. The zippered cargo pants include zippers in the outer side seams to allow easy access for putting on or taking off the prosthesis.

“The most valuable lesson I learned from this project was recognizing the need for adaptive clothing,” Humphreys said. “Reading all of the primary sources of people with disabilities was inspiring but also revealing of the everyday inconveniences posed by traditional clothing.” For more information on Humphrey’s project, you can visit his website.

Surf clothing suitable for people with G-tubes or PEG-tubes

Kira-Sophia Gregory, a recent graduate in apparel and merchandising, has created a line of surf wear for people with diabetes or who need a G-tube or PEG-tube. His brand is called Lull, which comes from the moment of calm between the waves. Gregory’s research has shown that these users need access to certain points on the body for medical access and injections. Surfing in a wetsuit requires the user to completely undress, which can be difficult while enjoying a day out on the waves.

a series of 3d CLO renderings of adaptive surf wear

Gregory’s design process resulted in a full wetsuit, a spring suit (long sleeve swimsuit) and a one piece swimsuit with a wrap skirt. Each design includes modifications for body access openings, as well as waterproof pockets for storing necessary medical equipment. You can read more about Gregory’s work on his website.

Molly Michelle, a line for cancer patients with an implanted port

Maxwell Hackett’s inspiration for his project is personal. Senior in product development concentration, he developed a women’s clothing line called Molly Michelle in honor of his mother, who battled colon cancer. Hackett shares that clothes and fashion were an integral part of her mother’s personality before her illness and being fashionable was a big part of her identity. After her cancer diagnosis, she lost that fashionable identity that was a big part of her life. She needed fashionable, fashionable clothing that provided access to medical ports, had some adjustability when body weight fluctuated due to illness, and something comfortable without cold zippers and with particularly comforting fabrics for chemotherapy sessions.

Line drawings of a dress accessible in 3 colors

Hackett’s solution was a top, a hoodie, and a sundress. Comfortable fabric, trendy colors, fashionable silhouettes, and port access through various garment openings and closures were important elements of the design. Hackett even started creating prototypes of some of these clothing designs to help his mother easily access them. To learn more about Hackett’s work, you can visit his website.

What’s next for product development students?

Morris has big plans for the future of this course and hopes to incorporate more community engagement into the inclusive design process.

“My vision for this course is to grow more connections within our CSU and Fort Collins community to connect students and potential consumers,” Morris said. “I would like to have more engagement between students and the people they are developing products for. My future vision is that each semester we partner with a community organization where students and end users develop a symbiotic relationship where users are engaged as true collaborators in the design process.

Students play a major role in starting this partnership. They are already engaging community organizations for the research required of the class, but Morris hopes to turn those initial connections into lasting partnerships. As prospective students do more prototyping work in this course, community feedback for design improvement will become essential.

Morris also continues to add to a website for his research group, the Inclusive Innovations Lab. The website will feature student work that illustrates the principles of inclusive design. Morris said: “This website is a platform to share the work of faculty, graduates and undergraduate students that we do in the Department of Design and Merchandising regarding inclusive design for underserved consumer groups and marginalized.”

the Design and Merchandising Department is part of CSU College of Health and Human Sciences.

Gary C. Lisi