This paper centres around a creative design project for first-‐year fashion design students. This project was informed by (1) the theoretical underpinnings of design thinking, (2) a human-‐centred approach to design and (3) protocol studies of novice engineering and industrial design students’ approaches to the design process. The design project assumed a design process method that focused on human beings – and their needs – as the driver for fashion design. The aim of adopting such a human-‐centred method for creative design was three-‐ fold. Firstly, the design project aimed to create a culture and awareness of human beings and their needs as a driver for fashion design.
Secondly, the project aimed to explore the design process of first-‐year fashion design students with regard to how they framed a design problem and design needs of human beings within a community, in an attempt to find the best possible solution. Thirdly, the design project aimed to establish whether the design process of novice fashion design students yielded similar or different results to that of empirical findings of protocol studies.
In this paper, guided by the research question, which pertained to how novice fashion design students approached a human-‐centred design process, I offer a reflective analysis, as a fashion design educator, concerning the design process employed in this particular design project. I then compare my reflective analysis to findings from protocol studies conducted with novice engineering and industrial design students. The paper begins with a theoretical discussion of design thinking and human-‐centred design. The discussion then shifts to the findings of protocol studies of novice engineering and industrial design students and their approach to the design process. Subsequently, the paper briefly contextualizes the creative design project and then focuses on my reflective analysis concerning the design methodology employed by novice fashion students drawing comparisons with the protocol studies. This research adopts a qualitative paradigm, and makes use of my detailed notes to support my reflective analysis. Based on a comparative method of analysis, I draw comparisons or differences between my reflective analysis and the findings of protocol studies. The paper contributes to the discourse on the design process, human-‐centred design and design education from the perspective of fashion design and fashion design education.