FIVE – Prototyping

The studio activity for week five was designed as an opportunity to practice responding to a design brief and learning to collaborate with class mates within a short time frame. The design brief was:

In teams of four or five, come up with an idea for a “food box” that can be sold and/or consumed in the Cultural Precinct, which includes the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum – South Bank, Queensland, Performing Arts Centre and Queensland Theatre Company. The “box” is targeted at the visitors of the Cultural Precinct, and thus must embody the unique image and experience of “Brisbane” while also making the Cultural Precinct more attractive to the visitors. (Choi, 2017)

To begin this process, teams used ideation techniques suggested in the earlier lecture. These included TILMAG, SCAMPER, general morphological analysis and other strategies which allowed ideas to be transformed into reality. Each of these techniques serves a specific purpose. TILMAG, as most techniques, begins by defining the problem. In this case, the design brief succinctly does so. Once the problem is defined, ideal solution elements (ISE) are identified, which are then used to construct a matrix. ISEs relative to the food box may have fallen into categories such as shape, size, contents and purpose. Connecting 2 or more of the ISE’s then provides associations that are then transferred back to the problem to provide possible solutions (Mycoted).

An example TILMAG layout (Mycoted).

SCAMPER is the acronym for the words substitute, combine, adapt, modify, purpose, eliminate and reverse. Using this mnemonic guide, the existing product can be improved (MindTools, 2017). These steps would be applicable to the food box:

  • What materials or resources can be substituted to improve the food box
  • What would happen if you combined the current box with another idea, to create something new?
  • What if one combined purposes or objectives?
  • How could this product be adapted different settings?
  • What else exists? Can this be used to adapt the product?
  • How could  the shape, look, or feel of the box be modified?
  • What could be added?
  • What could be emphasised or highlighted to create more value?
  • Can the box be used for other purposes?
  • Who else could use it?
  • Can it serve another purpose once its lifecycle is over?
  • What features, parts, or rules could be eliminated?
  • How could the box be simplified?
  • What would happen if the process was reversed?
  • What would the reverse (opposite) of this solution be?

This series of questions derived from SCAMPER clearly refines the initial solution.

SCAMPER (Lim, 2012)

Using the identified ISEs in combination with SCAMPER as a blueprint, teams began building tangible prototypes. Using office basic supplies, each group proceeded to piece together a prototype. Minor discrepancies in each design became apparent, demonstrating how prototyping  creates the foundation for thorough analysis and future refinement. This real-world testing is indispensable in the design process and often leads back to further ideation and research. For this process to flow, however, each team member must strive to collaborate.

Food Box prototype (Cheng, 2017)

Crucial to the success of any collaborative design is group dynamics. Studies show that for a team to be successful they require team cohesion which can be seen in two aspects: task cohesion and social cohesion. Task Cohesion refers to the degree to which members of a group work together to achieve common goals (IDFPA, 2013). Social Cohesion reflects the degree to which members of a team are united and personally ‘in tune’ with each other. Each contributes to developing cohesion within a group which allows it to operate more effectively.

It was clear that because many members of the class had not developed strong friendships beyond the class environment, social cohesion was lacking. Hence, although many intelligent designers were attempting to respond to the question, unfamiliarity with each other’s personalities and approaches it was difficult to produce the best possible solution.

This is an aspect of design I personally wish to reflect on and improve. It is vital that I, as an individual, strive to create meaningful connections with those I am (or may be) working alongside to ensure the work we produce is quality.




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