Materiality in creative collaborations: The micro-processes of designing a fashion collection

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Recent literature on materiality and collaborations brought attention to the role of objects in human-material interactions. We carried out an eight month ethnography in a fashion design brand to document how innovation processes in teams develop from the idea to the final product. The paper illustrates what objects are used, where they fit into the literature on sociomateriality, boundary objects, and objects of expertise, and how categorizing them benefits the professionals using these objects. By observing the participants’ work practices closely we could identify the micro-processes involved in developing a product in a team and collaborating with outside experts to present the outcome. Our findings show that objects influence/determine decisions in all three theoretical categories, as objects which provide infrastructure, facilitate communication, and motivate collaboration. We contribute a model that illustrates the theoretical categories of objects in a pyramid and show how the micro-processes of collaborating can be described as a chain of such pyramids. Finally the study shows that a continuous flow between experts and their objects takes place when working towards individual and shared objectives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • collaboration
  • objects
  • sociomateriality


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