Thursday, December 17, 2009

Design is About Re-Thinking the Familiar

Teaching students about design includes helping them understand the role of ideation - innovative thinking - not just the formal design, visualization or engineering.

Take, for example, the familiar bicycle. When students are challenged to re-design a bike (or anything else) they should be helped to think about how they could re-think every part. How would you re-design the seat, the handlebars, the frame, the wheels, the pedals, etc.? Could the frame serve multiple functions, like concealing cables, electronics, wires, etc.? (left)

Could the seat, for example, be designed so that it also forms a comfortable handle for carrying a collapsable bike? What other shape could the frame of a bike have?

And what about the wheels? What if they had no spokes? (right) This kind of thinking is referred to as originality in the traditional 4 part creativity model of fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality.

Fluency is the ability to come up with lots of ideas. You can evaluate this by simply counting up the number of ideas.
Flexibility is the ability to think of a whole new category of ideas. You can evaluate this by simply counting up the different categories of ideas.
Elaboration is the ability to run with an idea once someone presents it. You can evaluate this by counting up the number of "Yes, and then..." statements students make.
Originality is the ability to come up with an idea that is radically different from all the other ideas. These are, of course, rare. Look for any idea that causes laughter. Original ideas often surprise us and cause us to laugh because of their novelty.

Click on the heading above to see an amazing collection of bicycles compiled by Designer-Daily.

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