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Introduction to Prototyping I

Project Brief

The purpose of this exercise is to translate the careful observation of a phenomenon into ideas, and translate these abstract ideas iteratively into concrete, testable prototypes.

  1. Begin this exercise by finding a dark space and safely lighting a candle. Carefully observe the flame. Carefully consider the experience the light affords. Spend at least 10 minutes quietly studying the effects of the light (you might do this individually or in a group). Then write a few paragraphs reflecting on the experience. Be imaginative, exploring detail, sensation, associations, and any other reflections on the experience. Write your reflections in a style that conveys the experience best (e.g. prose, poem, etc). Take creative risks and post your reflections to the blog.

  2. Use these reflections as the starting point for this paper prototyping exercises. Begin by thinking divergently, coming up with at least 10 different concepts for a functional object that employs light. These functional objects might address a real need or be completely fanciful For example, you might imagine an x-ray like device that allows you to see behind any wall you point it. Or you might explore the formal qualities of the light to produce a lamp. Image an application for a specific scenario. If you get stuck, don’t be afraid to use Google or solicit feedback on the blogs (your peers are your best resource). Make some quick sketches to work out ideas in a fluid way. Don’t worry about the quality of the drawings. This is about getting the idea from your head onto paper. At this stage in the process, where divergent thinking is important, emphasize quantity over quality (10 is a minimum but you are encouraged to produce more). We can refine these ideas in the next phase. Post your sketches to the blog.

  3. Then, using only copy paper, sharpies, and tea lights, prototype 3-5 functional objects, using the criteria above. Think divergently, searching for
    diverse ideas. This prototype is only meant to model the idea, and not represent a final iteration, but should be more refined than the sketches (see Iteration One PDF as an example).Don’t worry too much about making it look finished. It should, however, “tell a story”. This means that you should be able to communicate the idea through the object you have created. You can also use supplemental means to help “tell the story”, such as video, images, and writing. Be creative in how you proceed. Post your models to the blog.

  4. For the next iteration, use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to refine at least one of your concepts. This doesn’t need to be a functioning prototype, but should “tell the story” (see Iteration Two PDF as an example) Create an advertisement for your product as you develop the “story”. Be creative. You can use video in addition to images and text. You might develop even develop a Kickstarter-like video.

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