Sarah Shepherd - Designer
I am a third generation (at least) engineer. Like my father and grandfather, I studied engineering, but unlike them, I felt at odds with the culture. Perception and behaviour were absent from my practice as an engineer, and the distance between what you designed and its construction seemed so vast. In 1996, I completed my civil engineering degree and pursued a different career, textile design. However, to say that I left behind my engineering when I graduated is false—on the contrary, I believe it has informed every element of my design practice.
I have noticed that I like to look for the logic of my textiles. To find the patterns, to quantify
or qualify them while engaging more directly with materials and processes. I often observe that I approached my design practice from a distinctly engineering lens, when compared with my design contemporaries. While this quality often won me jobs in the freelance world of costume textile design, it played a supporting role to my deeper interest in visual storytelling during the past twenty years working in the film industry.
The meanings that motif, colour, pattern, and texture conveyed became my primary focus;
techniques and execution followed.
In time, I have come to see that shifting perspectives between disciplines allowed me to see
solutions and indeed find problems that I would otherwise miss. The researcher, professor, and designer Neri Oxman calls this shifting perspectives “antidisciplinary.” Oxman proposes that if we constantly seek to change our views and perspectives, we enhance our potential intellectually. “Central (disciplinary) vision will get you far, but peripheral (antidisciplinary) vision will get you farther.”*
*Neri Oxman, “Age of Entanglement,” Journal of Design and Science, no. 1 (2016): 8, https://doi.
Image credit: Manuel Vazquez
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