Designers by any other name: exploring the sociomaterial practices of vernacular garment menders

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Studies around the cultures of design indicate a mutually constitutive relationship designers share with materials when in practice. However, professional designers are not the only ones experiencing proximate relations with materials. With the recent emergence of community-based repair workshops, non-professional designer practices of fixing things, like garments, reveal sites of active material tinkering aiding transitions in current clothing disposal patterns. Using qualitative research methods and a sociomaterial theoretical lens, this paper takes the mending activities of non-professional menders in communal repair workshops in the city of Helsinki, Finland, as its point of departure. The study identifies these menders as vernacular menders and explores their dynamic practices to reveal the situated, embodied,
routinized yet creative process of mending. The created outputs by the vernacular menders result in what is termed as informal design and point towards extending mainstream conceptualizations on design and creativity. In such a way, suggesting new insights on sociomaterial-enabled practices emerging around the brims of professional design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of DRS 2018
Subtitle of host publicationCatalyst
EditorsCristiano Storni, Keelin Leahy, Muireann McMahon, Peter Lloyd, Erik Bohemia
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherDesign Research Society
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-912294-19-0
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventDesign Research Society International Conference - University of Limerick (UL) and Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD) , Limerick, Ireland
Duration: 25 Jun 201828 Jun 2018

Publication series

NameDRS International Conference Series
ISSN (Electronic)2398-3132


ConferenceDesign Research Society International Conference
Abbreviated titleDRS
Internet address


  • sociomaterial
  • vernacular menders
  • informal design
  • creativity

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    Durrani, M. (2018). Designers by any other name: exploring the sociomaterial practices of vernacular garment menders. In C. Storni, K. Leahy, M. McMahon, P. Lloyd, & E. Bohemia (Eds.), Proceedings of DRS 2018: Catalyst (Vol. 4, pp. 1731-1746). (DRS International Conference Series). London: Design Research Society.