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Design and Color Trend Development


Nomi Dale Kleinman

Department of Textile Surface Design

Fashion Institute of Technology


Kleinman, N. D. (2016). Design and color trend development. Fashion Institute of Technology.


This assignment requires students to create a trend book (multi-page storyboard) and develop a design collection based on the book. Students scan the environment to discover a current theme that is influencing society. Students gather and evaluate information across multiple and diverse resources to identify, define and defend a current trend and color story. Students then use this information to develop original designs reflective of that trend and color scheme. This assignment is designed to assess Broad and Integrative Knowledge and Intellectual Skills by having students gather, identify and evaluate evidence from multiple resources and then analyze the information to execute a creative task. This project could be applied to any design discipline such as fashion, marketing and advertising, accessories, product design, etc.

Background Context

This assignment is designed for a 2nd or 3rd semester woven design course in a Textile Surface Design program in a school of Art & Design. The assignment has 2 parts, the creation of a trend book (multi-page storyboard) and the development of a woven design collection from that trend book. Students complete the assignment over 5 weeks of a 6 hour, 15 week design course or 6-7 weeks of a 3 hour design course. The assignment is for majors in the mid-final stage of their AAS degree or early-mid stage of their BFA degree.

The DQP proficiencies that this assignment addresses are:

  • Broad and Integrative Knowledge: Uses recognized methods of each core field studied, including the gathering and evaluation of evidence, in the execution of analytical, practical or creative tasks, and
  • Intellectual Skills Use of Information Resources: Identifies, categorizes, evaluates and cites multiple information resources so as to create projects, papers or performances in either a specialized field of study or with respect to a general theme within the arts and sciences.

I developed this assignment to support students’ understanding of trend forecasting, the development of a trend and how to design from a trend. The project is also used to strengthen students’ design research skills introduced in semester 1. One of the key points of this project is to help students define the difference between a design theme and a design trend. Students are presented with a lecture on the development of trends and shown examples of previous students’ trend books and woven design collections developed from their trend. We then complete a group exercise in which we make lists together of current cultural items in various categories. Category examples are: couture fashion, street fashion, art/museum/gallery shows, film/TV, pop culture, music, sports, news/current events, and politics. We then look across the lists to try to identify overlapping or connected items on the list that could become the development of a trend.

Another key point in the introduction of the assignment is to have students identify examples of trends verses themes in art and design. Giving context to how trend development and designing from trends is used in the textile industry reflects how this project helps students meet short and long term career goals. They might be asked to work in a similar way in a design position upon graduation. They are asked to complete the assignment again finding visual and written references from at least 3 different categories to identify a trend and develop a color story.

Students research a wide variety of information and use critical thinking to relate that information. In the second stage, a collection must be developed from their recognized trend using color, motif and texture. Students’ designs should be influenced by their trend. They evaluate their research to create original patterns, careful not to directly copy any of the visual information they found, but to reinterpret it. This is also one of the first times the students are building a collection of designs that relate to each other.

Alignment and Scaffolding

This assignment builds onto the skills developed in the Historic Design Inspiration Board, an assignment given in their first semester. This project introduces first semester students to the research and analytical skills required to create a visual storyboard or mood board. The projects build on each other by introducing and then strengthening the connection between the analyzed information and the subsequent translation of it into an actual design. In addition, the assignments are scaffolded by the development of a historical period or theme and the subsequent development of a trend in design. In order to strengthen the DQP skills, it helps to have common language and define the similar and different expectation from the 2 assignments including the difference between a trend and a theme.


This assignment is at the early to midpoint of students’ degrees and I have found that it is helpful to be very prescriptive in order to support students understanding of what is expected of them. I designate the minimum amount of research/references they need to support their trend and the acceptable categories. This assignment also introduces the concept of citing every image they use for inspiration. It is one of the first times they are developing a collection of fabrics and I have gone so far as to assign the exact type of design for each fabric in their collection (ie: texture, stripe, all over motif).

The more structure I give, the better the project results have been. I need to check students’ research at specific points along the process to make sure they are on track. The first, most important check is at the beginning to be sure they are working on a trend and not a theme. It can be very difficult for students to grasp the concept of identifying relevant items across categories of culture. For those who are struggling I may give very specific guidance on what to look for and where to help them round out their trend idea. Sometimes students need to start from scratch. The second challenge is having them use the trend information to design their fabrics. In my experience students forget the trend and design based on color only. I am asking their design motifs and textures to be reflective of the trend as well as their color. While the Historic Design Inspiration Board introduces the scaffolding of design research, this assignment builds on the scaffolding and strengthens it. The scaffolding can then fall away in capstone courses where students are asked to research and develop collections with minimal instruction.

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