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Motif: A 15-year research project inspiring brands to think differently

Nottingham Trent University’s Tim Rundle has been an influential lecturer for over thirty years, with recognised expertise in developing innovative curricula in the area of fashion communication, promotion, marketing and management.


Driven by a special interest in visual literacy and aesthetic analysis, Tim has developed Motif, a significant body of research, into the application and appropriation of motif across a wide range of design cultures over the last 15 years.

The research from this body of work has already been shared with industry participating in workshops over several years, attracting brands from Paul Smith to Primark, Selfridges to Sainsbury’s, and Hermes to H&M.

Motif workshop

NTU will be launching an exhibition and series of interactive events and workshops in recognition of this work, offering brands and organisations across a broad range of sectors a series of new trend tools to change their approaches to the use of brand, design, motif, and image.

Elaborating on the aim and approach of these workshops, Tim explained: “In a world where social media fetishizes trends, generating a response for your brand, product or service is the most challenging thing that creative professionals are facing. It’s essential to bypass the trend machine in favour of a more authentic approach.

“Whether you see yourself or your business as aligned, addicted or allergic to trend, this workshop approaches the subject from a different angle, challenging former responses and setting out new approaches to design development.

“It’s ideal for creative professionals from any area of design, any market level, and any professional perspective. You might work in the fashion, product or service industries as a buyer, designer, art director or communications manager. Regardless of your role and business, the workshops will provide you with serious skills.

“You will leave with a set of practical tools that you can then use regularly to inform your trend decisions.”

Feedback from industry workshops has endorsed the value and relevance of this approach to challenging trend information and better reflecting contemporary working practices and shifts in consumer behaviour.

“As a fashion brand, we don't exist in a vacuum. This motif work has shown that understanding trends is not necessarily to follow them blindly.” – Global Luxury brand

“This has really helped us recognise trends and how to push them further into something more unexpected, to develop and create more sophisticated designs and products.” – Global High street Brand

“It prompts designers to think in a different way. We can get to creative ideas sooner, making designers think differently and challenge commercial ideas.” – Influential Department Store

The new exhibition, Motif, opens to the public in Bonington Gallery on Friday 29 November 2019.

Motif workshops aimed specifically at businesses, brands, and teachers are being run at NTU in January 2020. Find out more.

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