Tree of functional design requirements

To aid navigation through the complexity of choices and decisions to be made, the parameters of the design process can be represented as a 'tree' of requirements, which demonstrates the primary and secondary factors for consideration together with an increasing number of detailed sub-choices and issues which need to be taken into account, as outlined in the previous section and in Fig. 3.2. This method is adapted from McCann (1999). The primary factors are

• identification of users' needs and context

• overall product concept - clothing system: collective operation, number of layers, equipment and weight

• protective functions

• performance and cost.

These primary factors can be further subdivided as:

• protective function - demands of the activity/needs of the body/specific protection required

3.2 Tree of requirements in the design development of protective clothing (Source: S Blackand V Kapsali).

• form and style - culture of the activity/contemporary fashion and aesthetics

• performance and cost - relevant standards/commercial considerations and value/fit for purpose.

Taking the contemporary fashion and aesthetics requirement further will include aspects of fibres, materials, colour, functionality, fabric performance, size, silhouette, cut, fit, proportion, comfort, manufacturing methods, in addition to the fashion trends and cultural factors. As progress is made, this branch begins to overlap and converge with aspects of other branches of the tree, such as performance and ergonomics and the needs of the body. Some of the considerations and choices which have to be made include

• garment system - form of overall collective, base, mid or outer layer?

• fabric system performance and functionality - e.g., strength/water permeable or barrier/ insulating or conductive/weight to bulk, i.e., density/stretch or rigid/wicking properties

• fibre and fabric construction: natural/synthetic/blends; woven/knit/non-woven/composite/single or bicomponent fibres/single or layered fabric elements

• aesthetic elements: colour/appearance/handle/touch/comfort on skin

• manufacturing processes: stitching/ bonding/moulding/welding/taping

• ease of putting on and taking off: openings and fastening systems/speed of operation

• details and features: pockets/attachments/accessories

• style/cut/fit/ease of movement.

Despite the complexity of the above requirements, the successful design and product development solution balances the primary factors through consideration of the sub-factors in such a manner as to arrive at a solution which meets the design brief to the required cost parameters and satisfies the key physical, social, psychological and aesthetic needs to combine protection, performance and fashion. However, one of the key inhibiting factors to the ideal design solution is often cost, therefore maximising the effectiveness of a clothing system for the available budget is a key skill practised by designers.

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