MA Studies > Fashion communication > Fashion communication alumnus > Malou Beemer

Malou Beemer

Communication Persuasion

After seeing several documentaries and programs about persuasion and perception like “The century of the self”, “The greatest movie ever sold”, “Test your brain” and going deeper into the world of Derren Brown, my starting point in the beginning of the school year became, the manipulation of the unconsciousness. This was a really broad subject and I wasn't really sure what I found the most interesting, was it how big companies manipulate their customers or maybe how we manipulate each other in conversations with our body language? Where do these ideas come from and how are these techniques being used in the fashion industry?


The first year and a half of our lives we cannot talk or understand words, body language, smell and touch, are essential for communication from this moment. So how does it work? Communicating with your body and understanding the body language of others is something that most of us don't pay attention to consciously. I think we underestimate the power of this, though between 60 till 80% of the way someone thinks about you after a conversation, is based on your body language. It is about the details and the unconscious movements in our communication. I find it really interesting that, if this part of communication is so important, we pay so less conscious attention to it. Why aren’t there any classes about this when you grow up? If we would know the basics on how to consciously read each other we would be so much stronger in social fields.

In the book “What everybody is saying” ex-FBI agent Joe Navarro explains how to read each other's bodies and why we often react in certain ways. This has to do with the limbic brain, the unconscious part that cannot rationalize but works on our emotions. Because this part of the brain triggers our body movements, it is harder for us to lie with our bodies. When we grew up we have been told to hide our emotions with our faces but there has never been paid attention to our feet and legs. That is why our feet most of the time explain how we feel and this has to do with the basic instinct of fleeing, freezing and fighting.

Next to body language which we perceive mostly visually, there are of course a lot of other factors that play a big role in communication. All the senses are important in experiencing communication. That is why I think if someone is a master in persuasion or manipulation, he has to understand the connection between the mind and all the senses. 

 Like Paul Watzlawick said: “one cannot not communicate” Experience Designer & Researcher Sebastian Deterding poses in his TED talk: “One cannot not persuade! We are no longer talking about the persuasion of technology but everything that is designed and put into the world is persuading. Every design that we created and make public has a persuasive component, it tries to effect people. It reflects the vision of the designers and his idea about ‘the good life’ in front of us.”

Because of all this, I would like to start with a research to the basics of communication.

A fundamental research on how communication actually works.

When this has become clear, I want to know what kind of convincing and persuasive strategies there are and how they are being used.

When I have collected the information I need, the design part becomes really important. I would like to develop a project in which, the information and techniques I select are being implemented. And I will communicate this information by letting the audience experience how these techniques work. In my view, involving the audience and letting them experience these techniques, is very important. An experience stays longer with you and is, in my point of view, much stronger than reading a written text with information. The interaction plays a big role because after all that is was communication is all about. Someone who really inspires me in the field of interaction design is Daan Roosegaarde. He invites the public to interact with his installations in public space or around the body. By participating you experience the concept that he wants to communicate. A good example of this is the Intimacy project, a dress made out of a material that becomes transparent when you get closer, , or senses your heartbeat and  visualize that in the rhythm of transparency. It is interesting because Derren Brown does exactly the same but uses a different medium. In his performances he does all kinds of mind tricks with his participants.  When Brown is doing this the participant experiences the effect of the idea that he wants to communicate and  afterwards he also explains what happened.

So enjoy that your senses are being tricked but be aware of the consequences.