At the recent CoreNet Paris Summit, the delegates at my
session on Rethinking the Design Brief
were asked to prepare a three minute response to our presentations using the
materials on each of their tables. One table had Lego, another Fuzzy Felt, another
plasticine, another coloured paper and scissors and so on. The idea was that
using different materials to a flip chart or PowerPoint might facilitate producing
a more creative or lateral response.

Preparing a response

My first observation was that some groups were more engaged
than others, perhaps some delegates were willing to use the materials but
others found it all a bit strange. Some tables, particularly plasticine and Lego,
used the materials to make individual models and then bring them together into
one joint contribution, where other materials such as pens and paper meant that
one person was creating the output. The plasticine groups also found that manipulating
(warming up) the clay was tactile and helped them form a response. There was
clearly an order to the constraints that the material placed on the output –
plasticine was the most free form followed by Lego, the picture cards, magazine
pictures and Fuzzy Felt were already preformed to some extent. In terms of the
response, the table with the pens and paper opted for a diagram with bullet
points and their response was the most traditional/expected, I am not sure whether
this was a consequence of the people or the materials.

Picture cards, Fuzzy Felt, Lego, colured card

The groups picked up on a number of key points:

the importance of recognising cultural and
personal differences and how to design for them;

that some people need order and structure
whereas others want chaos and choice;

a need for individual/solitary space and social/group

places for work requiring focus and
concentration not just interaction and collaboration;

supporting mobility and choice through multiple work-settings;

bringing nature and fun into the workplace.

Magazines, pen & paper, plasticine x 2