Bodystorming – Living in the Problem Space
Tim Brown of IDEO speaks here on the importance of the (work/play?) environment used by leading design teams worldwide. Closely connected is the ideation method called Bodystorming, a complimentary to Brainstorming, which we practiced at CIID recently.
We borrowed the challenge of building a ‘Cartoon House’ from early Xerox PARC attempts to use the process to envision future technologies. Bill Verplank was our principal instructor, guide and crit for the mini-project. Bodystorming is essentially an immersive ideation process for groups, where simulation, role-playing, play acting and interactive prototyping become the materials for design. It takes the design group of of the studio and into the real world where design creations live, amongst people with real problems and desires. Nevertheless, this world is an elaborate simulation designed for the team to live with those needs/problems/desires rather than simply ‘talk’ about them. Ideas for solutions are ‘built’, not sketched, taking full of the scalability of paper prototyping techniques. The solutions are then placed context, used (in simulation), new insights and problems derived, and the process is repeated all over again. Consequent iterations serve to move the team through a remarkable range of refinement in ideas.
An interesting connection here is Brend Laurel’s work positioning design as theatre, which I would like to explore more here sometime.
Our team worked on a futuristic living room concept design based on the persona of Jason – a married twenty-something Taiwanese male, living alone and away from his wife Janice while studying in Copenhagen. Technologies possibly 20 years into the future were considered. In addressing Jason’s needs and desires, the living room was designed to help Jason better manage his long-distance relationship, provide ready outlets to his strong technological and gaming interests, and promote his social life in a new city with a very different culture than his own.
In presenting the concept to Bill and team of teachers, we enacted out a typical weekday evening in the life of Jason, therefore demonstrating the use of the many technologies embedded into his living room.