Prototype to Inspire and to Learn

In Design Interventions, Learning Design.Design Learning by Zaza

Using Prototypes to Explore and Expand questions
A Project for IDP 316 [Critical] Design Thinking Studio

Why do we build things? We often build to solve a problem, to express an idea, or to affirm a value we aspire to as a community. We also build in order to better understand intriguing questions. In IDP 316 this semester, we have been exploring the merits of building something before we’ve figured out all the dimensions to it. This kind of preemptive exploratory building is called prototyping and it was the theme for our final project.

The students worked in teams to help a client learn more about problem that has been a pain point for them; and to inspire the involved stakeholders to see the problem through a new framing. After immersing themselves in the problem, the students went through rapid design cycles, or what could be better described as test series, where they built multiple prototypes to expand questions they had about the client’s problem.

For each test series the students would:

  • Pick an idea there are excited/unsure about how to make a reality.
  • Turn it into a question for prototyping.
  • Build a prototype. For three design cycles, chose one of the following (1) Pick one that helps someone learn. (2) Pick another that inspires stakeholders. (3) Pick the best features and incorporate them into a super prototype.
  • Run a test with users and capture feedback
  • Use the feedback to develop even more empathy, to refine your design perspective, and to even more fully immerse yourself in the experiences of your stakeholders.

Below you’ll find the teams’ videos about the final super prototype. Each team has also prepared a portfolio that documents their design process in greater detail.

* A special thanks to our three clients:

  • Alexandra Davis and Dano Weisbord from Campus Sustainability and Space Planning
  • Jennifer Walters, Associate Dean of the College and Dean of Religious Life
  • Jon Caris from the Spatial Analysis Lab

**More thanks go to the three Master Makers:

  • Eric Jensen and Dale Renfrow at the Center for Design and Fabrication (CDF) at Smith College
  • Jaime Masick for running workshops that helped us figure out how to build big!
The High Cost of Books

Team READefine: Laura Lilienkamp, Shira Breen, Yi Wang, and Zara Jamshed.
Client: Jennifer Walters

Creating opportunities for Learning with drones on Campus

Team CAZAM: Alex Widstrand, Amanda Lavond, Cherry Huang, Matt Merlino, and Zoe Zandbergen
Client: Jon Caris

Helping the Campus Center Cafe Manage its WASTE

Team Trash: Céline Rosak, Maia Erslev, Natasha Sharma, and Tiejin Zhang
Client: Alexandra Davis and Dano Weisbord