Creative Informatics update 3


Creative Informatics update 3

If I could turn back time? Well, I can as it happens, by back-publishing this post to April when I submitted by end of project report to the Creative Informatics (CI) team at the University of Edinburgh! Some project highlights below, albeit written in general terms because the result of all this work isn’t launching until July..

Recap. My original CI Resident Entrepreneur project had three objectives: to research the quilting industry around designing with data; to develop a web-based tool for generating personalised data-driven quilt patterns, and; to test the pattern creator with quilters.  These objective have been met although in slightly different ways to those I’d imagined back in April 2022 (when I submitted my application). The core output is (will be!) a web-based tool that generates personalized quilt patterns by ulitizing customer defined data (location, date and time) to visualize that data in a quilt.

New to Creative Informatics? “Creative Informatics is an ambitious research and development programme based in Edinburgh, which aims to bring the city’s world-class creative industries and tech sector together, providing funding and development opportunities that enable creative individuals and organisations to explore how data can be used to drive ground-breaking new products, businesses and experiences.” 

I applied for funding as part of the Resident Entrepreneur programme. Beyond the funding (£12K), which has given the ability to test and develop my ideas, I’ve benefitted from the Creative Informatics links to other resident entrepreneurs and the wider CI community, legal advice around intellectual property with Shepherd and Wedderburn, and the fabulous mentor programme at Creative Edinburgh.

I’m going to reflect on some of the interesting challenges I’ve encountered through the project in what I continue to write about quilting futures. In this post I want to focus on some of the breakthroughs:

Design-led development. Taking a design-led approach has meant I’ve been open to tailoring the project to benefit the final product or user experience as opportunities arise. I had planned to define the number and type of blocks that would appear in each quilt size (Throw, Double, Queen, King). This would have defined the fabric requirements for all quilts leaving the algorithm to determine the location of blocks within each quilt. Instead, the development process revealed unforeseen opportunities that led to a greater degree of authenticity in the design. Rather than defining the number and type of blocks in each quilt size, the algorithm now assigns the location as well as the block type (from a selection of three blocks). While this has meant a better product with greater coherence between data source and visualised quilt pattern, this decision ultimately meant more work (and in-kind time) for me on the quilting side of the project to think through how differing numbers and types of blocks could be cut while at the same time limiting fabric wastage. 

Product iteration. Building the web-based tool and thinking through the ways that people might use the tool revealed the potential to develop specific designs based on locations, dates and times around which groups of people might have an interest. More to come on this in July!

Pattern hacks. I have developed 3 hacks to improve the usability of the pattern. One allows users to assess their specific fabric calculations so they can use the same fabric colours across the different blocks. I developed this approach as a result of feedback from pattern testing the existing Monadh quilt. The same hack will allow quilters to consider whether they have enough fabric in their existing fabric stash (rather than buying new fabric). A second hack provides a process users can follow to cut the background fabric in larger pieces than the core pattern requires. A third (currently testing) will make the pattern more accessible to quilters with advanced beginner skills (reducing the number of y-seams involved). 

While the end of project paperwork is complete, work continues and the personalised quilt pattern generator will launch in July, just ahead of Festival of Quilts 2023. You’ll be able to see the first quilt made using this new approach at FOQ23. Can’t wait to show it to the quilter community and see what questions and comments they have. Exciting times ahead! 

Thanks for reading..

Creative Informatics

Creative Edinburgh