Class 3C
Apr 06, 2016

About This Session

Focus of this session is on generation of original new ideas. Teams of students will be guided to a sequence of divergent, and then convergent creative exercises. Divergent exercises are used to create as many new ideas as possible (and then some!) while then convergent exercises apply evaluation on various levels to narrow down to several most appropriate ideas that the teams will follow up on later.

Lecture: Guide To Your Assignment

Today’s starts with a reflection on the Design Thinking process we’ve been introduced to last time, and then lists some of the possible approaches you can take with your project, with examples.

Click here to download lecture in PDF.

Note: Most videos in the lecture were taken from the Objectified documentary, so you may want to check out the entire film. The link to the movie was also posted in 3A.

In Class Exercises


Better part of the class is dedicated to Divergent Thinking exercises, that are structured in such way to inspire creativity and wide-range of solutions. They are followed up by Convergent thinking session, which students can finish after class (but on the same day!).

Homework #1: Photos From Class


For the purpose of documenting your work in class, please take photos of your idea board (table where you pasted all the post-its with the ideas). Make sure every idea is clearly visible. If necessary, take one overall photo (that shows all post-its at once, so we can see their connections), and then several zoomed in photos (so we can see what’ actually written on post-its). You can also compose the detailed photos in one big one (as in the example above).

Homework #1: Photos

Homework #2: 3–4 Good Ideas

In order to produce this, you should meet with the team for a session of focused creative thinking.
Deadline for Homework #2: Friday, April 8, 23:59

Set The Cool Atmosphere

Never forget: this is the fun part of our job, and you should enjoy it!
So don’t start until your make yourself very comfortable. Get your team together at some nice place (maybe at someone’s home, instead of the studio – for a change!). Set the atmosphere as if you were making a party (you are, in a way!), put on some nice (but not distracting) music, bring drinks and some special snacks.
Then clear some space on a table or a whiteboard, and paste all your ideas, the post-it notes, from the class. Prepare a bunch of new, empty, post-it notes, and sharpen your pens.

Divergent #3 (10 minutes)

Give yourself 10 minutes for another round of divergent exercise, where you should aim at getting at least 10 new ideas. These ideas will be slightly more focused on, compared from the ones you had in class. Inspired by all ideas you have so far, produce new ideas that relate to POVs and goals your team has stated. Work as a team. Same rules, the ones we had in class, apply here: no criticizing, be visual, be quick. Don’t stick to much to one idea, and don’t analyse it – just quickly sketch it and move on. Keep your minds flowing. If you get stuck, try seeing if some ideas could combine – that simple observation helps you inspire. If you’re still stuck, try another goal/POV, or just forget about the goals and POVs and just do another few wild ideas to get back to speed, then return to your goals and POVs. And definitely, do not judge or criticize ideas.
Do this for about 10–15 minutes. After this exercise, you should be nicely warmed up for the next phase, the convergent one.

Criteria To Evaluate Ideas

“Convergent” thinking means that you will now apply critical thinking to narrow down from dozens of crazy unrelated ideas to only a several, good ones. In order to be able to do this, first you need to establish a set of criteria that you will use to evaluate ideas.
Some of the criteria come from me, while some you should establish yourself. Here they are:

My criteria:

Your Criteria:
These could be things like:

… or whatever else that may be important to you.

Convergent Warm-up (5–10 minutes)

Now that you have a set of criteria, very quickly evaluate each idea. Do this individually, without talking (silence is imporant here!). Just quickly go over all ideas, and write down + (good) or – (bad).
A good idea is not only the one that responds to your criteria (you will probably not have much of those anyway), but also the one that has potential to develop into something relevant to the project. That “potential” can be any element of the idea: its form, its possibility to tell a story (to tickle our intellect), a context in which an idea is used. Or maybe idea is not good for any of the goals your team have, but it can serve perfectly some other, similar goal. That’s fine, too – remember, your problem statements can change at any moment (as long as it’s within a “philosophy” of Superusual brand). If for any reason you think that an idea is worth keeping, give it a +. Otherwise, it’s -. Let all team members evaluate all ideas.
One rule: each member can give more than one “plus” (ie. +++) or more than one “minus” to an idea (if it’s exceptionally good or bad) but here’s the catch: each team member has only 15 pluses, and 15 minuses to spend. So you have to think how you want to distribute your + and -, it’s not just saying “like/dislike”. Obviously, many ideas will be left without any + or -.
Exercise ends when you all spend your +s and -s.
At the end of the process, what you’ve just done is you’ve prioritized ideas: now you can just glance at your table and see the good from bad.

Convergent Exercise (45–90 minutes)

Now you’ll start discussing the opporunities together as a team, and during this process you will bring down the number of ideas to only 3 or 4. We are all very familiar with convergent thinking, because this is what we normally do – we are being taught (for a good reason) to operate on that way.
There are still a few tricks that may help you be more efficient.
The good thing about divergent phase is that now you have many things to think about. No matter how silly ideas you made so far, it’s still more productive than starting from a blank paper.
Now use your silly ideas as a raw material to create good ones.
A few tips:

And remember one thing:
Nobody ever came up with a truly original idea – ever. Even the most oustandingly novel ideas are combination of some old ones. Or as the saying goes “We all stand on the shoulder of giants”. I’ve just added a TED talk that relates to that.

At the end of this exercise you should have 3 or 4 ideas per team.
Now post them online to test it.

Homework #3: Test Ideas

Now that you gave some cool ideas, it’s time to see if they fly:

Optional Homework: Iterate!

Based on user feedback, you may now understand your ideas better, and may even think of updating or changing them. This is prefectly fine. If you want to elaborate more on idea, or changed, post the new idea below the old ones.

Deadline for C and D : Sunday, April 10, 23:59

Bring To Class Next Time

Next time you will be making prototypes of your ideas, so bring to class any material that you may find useful. By prototyping ideas, you not only want to test if the ideas “work” (that they are useful), but you also want to use prototypes to learn about the ways you can actually produce your object.

Modeling Clay (Plasticine, Plastilina)

Clay is a simple material that can let us prototype parts of our object (or the entire object), so please bring to class the following (this applies to everyone individualy, not as a team) :


Bring several bars of plasticine.
How much?
Depends on the size of the object you are making. This material is fairly cheap so better to bring more than you need.
Where to buy it?  In the Chino it costs 1.50€ per bar, in Artes Graficas (casco historico) it costs 1.20€ per bar. Again, better buy more than less than you think you will need (at least 5-10 bars per person, I guess).

Note: Ideally get your plasticine all in one color (and don’t worry about which color it is).

Tools For Clay Modelling

You don’t need any special tools, most of the things you probably already have (or you can buy it in Chino for a few euros).

Bring Something to flatten the clay with.
Ideally you’d want to buy something wooden that you can roll to flatten the plasticine, like this:


Also, having something similar to a wooden spoon can be useful for making curve objects – the more curved the head of the spoon, the better (you can also use the spoon handle to “roll and flatten”):


Bring Something To Cut The Clay With

Usually clay is best cut with wires or tight hard nylon cords. To avoid buying specialized tools, maybe you’d want to try with the wire, cords or dental floss to see how it cuts:


Read / Watch This


Critical Design FAQ, an essay by Dunne & Raby
You shoud read this: A very useful overview of Critical Design, which you can use as a guideline to your projects. When I tell objects should tell a story, I refer to the qualities described in this essay.


Three Teapots, an essay by Don Norman
This is a prologue to “Emotional Design” a book by Don Norman (2002).

Dominick Wilcox : Reinvention Of Normal, short film
“Go straight off the wall” said his dad and Dominic does just that. The film follows Dominic Wilcox, an artist / inventor / designer, on his quest for new ideas….Transforming the mundane and ordinary into something surprising, wondrous and strangely thought provoking.

Design And Elastic Mind, a TED Talk By Paola Antonelli
MOMA design curator Paola Antonelli previews the groundbreaking show Design and the Elastic Mind — full of products and designs that reflect the way we think now.

When Ideas Have Sex – A TED Talk by Matt Ridley
It’s not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.

Students' Work