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BUILD UPON THIS WORK! ............... 3 INTRODUCTION: WHAT DO DESIGN STUDENTS NEED? .............. 5 USING cREATIVE WORKSHOP IN A cLASSROOM SETTING ............ 13 TEAcHING THE cHALLENGES: FOUNDATION ............................... 21 EXEcUTION .................................. 30 MATERIALITY............................... 42 INSTRUcTION ............................... 49 OBSERVATION . .............................. 52 INNOVATION ................................ 55 INTERPRETATION......................... 62 ABOUT THE AUTHORS .................... 71 GET THE BOOK ............................. 72

layout based on a design by Grace Ring, HOW Design Press

Build Upon this Work!

This e-book is an accompaniment to Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills, published in November 2010 by HOW Design Press. The print book contains 80 creative challenges that will help any designer reach a breadth of stronger design solutions, in various media, within any set time period. Exercises range from creating a typeface in an hour, to designing a paper robot in an afternoon, to designing web pages and other interactive experiences. Each exercise includes compelling visual solutions from other designers and background stories to help designers increase their capacity to innovate. This e-book was written to work in concert with Creative Workshop. It is a work in progress, intended for teachers of design & creative thinking, but it may also be helpful for designers and creative managers. If you have any updates or improvements to the ideas contained hereor if we made a mistakewed love to incorporate your input and promote your thinking to the greater design community. And if youve created a challenge and tried it out with others, wed love to consider it for a future Creative Workshop book. Write us at

Creative Commons License Info

The material contained in this eBook is 2011 David and Mary Sherwin. It is offered under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License for use internationally. The full details of the license can be found here: http:// To quickly summarize the license: You are free to Share: To copy, distribute, and transmit the work Remix: To adapt the work Under the following conditions Attribution: You must attribute the work in the manner specied by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Please provide attribution back to the authors as follows: From Creative Workshop: A Teachers Guide by David and Mary Sherwin, http:// Noncommercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If youd like to, youll need to contact us at david@ for permission. Share Alike: If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

To order copies or have Creative Workshop supplied to your university bookstore, call 1-800-289-0963. You can also buy copies online at

Build Upon this Work!

Exercise #

Introduction: What Do Design Students Need?

If you want to study something, its better not to know what the answer is.
Shunryu Suzuki, Find Out for Yourself

When considering the skills that todays designers need to be successful in todays job market, we often focus on job requirements, which are listed in tidy bullet points on recruitment requests: E  xperience working in Adobe Creative Suite version du jour K  nows Flash, Dreamweaver, HTML5/CSS3, Javascript, and more esoteric avors of scripting languages (and theoretically knows how to create an interactive experience) 3  -5+ years of related design experience Creative Workshop, both the book and the class, was inspired by a survey we conducted in 2008 with designers and creative directors with whom David had worked in the past, as well as creative leaders in the American design community whose paths we had crossed. Specically, we wanted to know what todays creative directors and designers sought in students emerging from design schoolwhat skills students werent learning that could be infused back into their course curriculum. The questions in the survey were open-ended, such as: When working with or managing other designers, what skills do you most actively cultivate? We also asked for anecdotes regarding how they overcame a difcult design challenge, thereby stretching their talent and growing a practical design skill.

The answers we received back were surprisingly consistent, and distressingly integral to the success of any designer working today. The majority of them fell into the following four categories:

1. Big-Picture Ideation & Planning the Execution

Strong conceptual thinking is the root of any wellcrafted design executionand the skill of creating concepts through focused brainstorming is often learned through mentorship or brute repetition on the job. Additionally, most designers discover that an idea is meaningless if it isnt delivered on time and executed well. So, effective ideation requires strict time management and structure. Otherwise, were just creating napkin sketches. My experience working with young designers is that they are excited and interested in presenting a technique. Often there is little thought behind it other than it looks cool. I prefer to have the cool as the topping for a carefully planned design.  Wendy Quesinberry, creative director and principal of Quesinberry & Associates Idea generation has become increasingly important to me. That means no computer! Just sketches and notes and scribbles and mood boards. These all help keep ideas from

Introduction: What Do Design Students Need?

becoming too precious, and encourages exploration of ideas. Theres something about sitting down and nessing an idea on the computer that can make it harder to let go of an idea thats just not working. Even when you know its not! Michel Vrana, book designer

with a willingness to share and help each other It just doesnt feel like work when youre doing it right.  Duane King, principal of BBDK and creator of the design blog Thinking for a Living Trust is by far the most important thing. Its fragile and takes time to build, but only with trust can there be collaboration. And only with collaboration will people help each other to make the best ideas in the group surface.  Scott Berkun, author of The Myths of Innovation and Making Things Happen

Technology and tools should not get in the way of your ideas. The second this happens, youre screwed.
David Conrad

3. Sketching Ideas
Out of all the tools available to a working designer, the humble pencil is often the quickest method to access ones intuition. Its often not listed as a requirement in a job listing, but creative directors and designers looking to hire you will listen not only to what comes out of your mouth, but also the quality of thought that you render through design sketching. Only after considering a sketch can the design execution take place, whether via Photoshop, code, or tempera paint. The ability to sketch an idea before executing it is fundamental to any work environment and to any economy. Sketching affords designers the ability to suggest without committing to marks or grids or any element of design. By quickly sketching out ideas, the poor ones fade quickly from priority without wasting precious time to execute them. The discerning designer uses sketching to rule out as well as rule in dominant ideas about the formal elements of any communication. It is the domain of the sketch where the concept is nailed down as well, instead of massaging more aesthetic details, which dont matter one iota if the big idea doesnt work. Carrie Byrne, Creative Director, Worktank Technology and tools should not get in the way of your ideas. The second this happens, youre screwed. David Conrad, Studio Director, Design Commission

2. Collaboration & Communication

Even for solo designers, collaboration is the lifeblood of any professional creative endeavorwith your clients, with fellow designers, and with vendors that support fullling your work. But to collaborate well, you have to squelch your ego, speak your mind, bring in partners from other disciplines beyond design, and know the business problems youre trying to solve. Sharing your thoughts isnt a risk, its an asset. Creative kinships with people from a wide variety of skill sets serve to expand your views of whats possible. Whether designers, programmers, motion graphics artists, illustrators, copywriters, or photographers, the result will be a mix of cultural, economic, and creative energy that can offer true originality while testing your assumptions of how things are done I love to watch the sparks y when creative individuals meet, match wits, and inspire each other. I also thoroughly enjoy participating in these exchanges myself. These relationships require honesty and a lack of ego combined

Introduction: What Do Design Students Need?

4. Resilience Under Pressure

To quote Scott Berkun: There is nothing like the impossible and the unfair to stretch your talents. Designers who focus their energies on untangling extraordinary and seemingly intractable problems learn design fundamentals more quickly, while exposing new domains for future exploration. However, these kinds of stretch projects must be balanced with time for reection, or designers will burn out. There was a time in my career when I worked for an individual who directed a department of a well-known agency. This was a person of questionable character who overstepped boundaries in every way possible. This Devil wore Prada. The years spent at that place were my second college education. My buttons were pushed. My ego was battered and bruised. Because of this, my creativity/problem solving was stretched to new levels. This was the most tortuous yet rewarding experience of my career. Although it may not seem like it at the time, being pushed beyond what you think is possible is the best education available. Jon Lindstrand, designer

across the table and told the client that this site will be designed and developed with a modern, CSS-based format. I had no clue if Id be able to pull it off. With the added pressure of having given my word I threw myself into the project and succeeded where before I had not. Ive never gone back to table-based work since. Pressure and fear is an excellent motivator.  Andy Rutledge, Principal and Chief Design Strategist, Unit Interactive


Why arent more students graduating with these skills? Can these skills be taught in that setting at all? In the classroom, there may be a desire to focus on deep study of design fundamentals, such as typography, layout, and the use of computer programs, rather than exploring various domains of design. But in analyzing the survey wed sent out more thoroughly, we realized that developing a fast-paced sequence of quick design challenges would force designers to ideate in an improvisational manner. They could illustrate their ideas in collaboration with fellow designers, and communicate them to a client or teacher. Recent thinking by design educators in America is echoing this desire to create: curricula characterized by ux rather than stability; classrooms that are open and permeable rather than closed and nite; teaching materials understood as participatory platforms that are modular and extensible; and pedagogical practices founded on perceiving the larger system rather than isolated entities within that system.  Holly Willis, Embracing Flux, New Contexts/ New Practices: Six Views of the AIGA Design Educators Conference, edited by Julie Lasky It can be just as hard to effectively learn the skills Id identied in two- and four-year design schools as it is in the workplace. But not all of this knowledge must come from doing graphic design projects. Weve been following ongoing discussions on the Interaction Design Associations website regarding this subject. Diversion Media, when queried by a graduating

There is nothing like the impossible and the unfair to stretch your talents.
Scott Berkun

I had been studying how to design and develop web pages without using tables for layout, instead using divs and CSS entirely, but found it quite difcult. I always had to abandon my effort and go back to table-layout as I butted up against my knowledge and skill limitations. Shortly after starting my rst job at an agency, I had a client discovery session where I looked

Introduction: What Do Design Students Need?

student about work experience requirements for becoming an entry-level interaction designer, said this: The only way to acquire all these skills is to do projects However they dont all need to be UX projects. If youve been a carpenter, short order cook, or theater designer you probably have a lot of them already. Plus, of course, you need to demonstrate killer deliverables, mastery of several software programs, and familiarity with the development process. Id also like to know that youve been on at least one successful software project through the full lifecycle (from whiteboard to launch). All of the above is much more important than an arbitrary number of years... So, every student must master new software technologies, old-school design theory, and production methodologies, while fullling more projects. But we think the dirty secret is not in that a designer should spend weeks or months on those projects. The projects should be unfair in their construction, and limited to an hour or two at a time, not days or weeks.

across all disciplines of designmany of extraordinary complexity and difculty. Most of the people in the class were also working full-time as designers. Most of them had tool-based skills with the latest and greatest software. The only stipulation was that for each challenge in the class, they would need to turn in a pencilbased sketch of their solution, unless a computer execution was required. The structure of the class was not invented wholesale by the two of us. One of our rst roommates post-college was a graduate student in poetry. In the summer of 1999, he took a class called Instant Thesis, or 80 Works in 7 Weeks, which was being taught by the poet Peter Klappert. The class explored collage methods, blot-outs, concrete poetry, metric/ xed forms, linked verse, anaphora, dialogue, satire, visual shape, collaborative writing, xed and loose rhyme schemes, musicality, tone, and dozens of other approaches. Each student was responsible for fullling in-class and take-home exercises, as well as coming up with their own exercises that could be shared with the class. Many students found the class to be one a transformative creative experience far beyond any other classes they had ever taken in college or graduate school. With a little research, we discovered that Peters class was adapted from a course taught at the Corcoran School of Artone where students were only allowed two weeks for creating 80 artistic works! The artist Angie Drakopoulos said this about her experience in the Corcoran class: The Corcoran encouraged students to work with many different media and explore new ideas. What I really learned was a way of thinking about art, not necessarily how to make it, but how to think about making it. One of my favorite exercises, in my junior year, was a project to make 80 works in two weeks. We were given specic instructions on different media that had to be used, or an idea to be incorporated, or a color, or words for a piece to refer to. It was exhilarating; it really opened my mind to the possibilities of making art. Also, because of the projects size and deadline, you couldnt spend too much time on any individual work; so you achieved a certain degree of detachment from the end result, which allowed a lot of latent ideas and tendencies to surface. I

Without rules, youve got no target to aim for. Without flexibility, you havent the freedom to redefine the target.
Duane King


To prove this theory, David taught two quarter-long classes where recent graduates from design school were tasked with solving 80 creative challenges

Introduction: What Do Design Students Need?

think that was the rst time I experienced art as a mind-game.

Youve been asked to submit an identity design for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The initial sketch of your logo must be composed from a single, unbroken line. Once youve placed your pen or pencil down on the paper, you cant take it off the page until the logo is complete. Dont go back for correctionsembrace mistakes!

Designing Structures for Improvisation

Could design be approached as a similar sort of mind game, fostering a similar sense of detachment, allowing intuition to bubble up from the margins? Would it possible to cram a set of wildly divergent design exercises into the course of short time frame, forcing designers to exercise the full breadth of their abilities in a nite period of timelearning critical skills more quickly? Would people in such an environment become better designers at an exponentially faster rate, with substantially better output? During 2009, we worked to construct the challenges that would serve as the foundation of this 80 Works class for designers. When considering what would comprise these design challenges, one of Duane Kings responses to our survey best summarized the spirit of our approach: There are various factors in creating an adequate space for a creative team to work within, but I tend to focus on the denition of structures for improvisation, simplicity in complexity and freedom of will. Without rules, youve got no target to aim for. Without exibility, you havent the freedom to redene the target. We loved the notion of structures of improvisation and how it encouraged a push and pull between rules and exibility. We knew that each challenge would have to combine open-ended exibility with rigid rules. The time limit for each challenge would also have to force an immediate confrontation of the problem at hand, rather than letting solutions rumble around in the subconscious for a few days. As an example, one of the rst challenges David taught in the class was One Line Logo, which has a 30-minute time limit:

Almost everyone knows what the Olympics are, so a design brief isnt required to understand what characteristics may comprise a great logo for the event. What made this a difcult challenge was the constraint around how you exercise a critical, almost commonplace skill for any designer: sketching. Becoming more mindful of what ideas ow out of a set of intuitive pencil gestures, and using those gestures as nished material rather than polishing and rening identity concepts with tighter sketches helped students begin to trust their initial ideas and their hand-crafted nature. We also had students try out a variant where teams of people had to create Olympic logo ideas with a different constraint:

Get into a team of four people. Together, you will sketch a new logo for the upcoming Olympics. The design will be passed from one person to the next. Each person, using a permanent-ink marker or colored pencil, can contribute one element to the design at a time. If youre crafting type, you can dot an i or cross a t, but only one word can be written per person (unless its a run-on, if you really want to bend the rules). Altering the paper in any way can also constitute an element of your design. Keep in mind: once youve started, you cant crumple it up and start over again. And when youre done, your team will share your work with the class.

Introduction: What Do Design Students Need?

This is the opposite of the previous constraint: instead of completing an idea in one gesture, the idea must be painstakingly communicated or collaboratively created. And with only one shot to put the idea down on paper, the students had to be clever about integrating any mistakes into their nal identity sketch. This is only one example of how we constructed the challenges. In the last section of this e-book, Teaching the Challenges, we provide further thoughts around what makes the challenges in Creative Workshop so, for lack of a better word, challenging.

Throughout each class, the students learned to use timeboxing both in solving individual challenges and in team collaboration, working in short sprints tempered by pauses for evaluation and reection. When solving design problems, the students would use the rst timebox as a place to use unorthodox brainstorming methods to kickstart their creative process. By repeating this process over and over again sometimes in as little as 15 to 20 minutesstudents had a chance not only to exercise their own talents under pressure, but to also gain an appreciation of the ways fellow designers solved the same problems. Needless to say, during the rst few weeks the students struggled. They were putting in sleepless nights perfecting design executions instead of following the provided class instruction and focusing on simple pencil sketches of their ideas. By the end of the class, however, they were exploring strong design ideas from sketchbooks lled with possible design directions and spending less time sweating under their deadlines in class and at work. They learned to collaborate with each other effectively; with such short deadlines, there wasnt time for ego. And, most importantly, they explored domains of design they had never experienced before, which redirected many of their career paths dramatically. You can read more about timeboxing and using lightweight brainstorming methods beginning on page 4 of Creative Workshop.

Structuring the Design Process Through Timeboxing

In the process of brainstorming the challenges, we realized the following: If a designer knew which skill they want to learn, almost any kind of problem could be designed to help them acquire it. But the way students tried to solve the challenges, and the specic processes they used to arrive at a solution quickly, would require an explicit structure if they were going to succeed in the time frames they were provided. And this structure needed to start with a designer identifying strong ideas, before she or he became lost in the ow of polishing an executed design. In researching and testing different design processes, the one that stood out as an exemplary model for the class was timeboxing. This technique is often used in the world of software development, but its just as useful when creating design solutions. It also keeps designers from moving too quickly into a design execution, before theyve brainstormed a broad range of ideas.

Pretending you know what youre doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what youre doing even if you dont and do it.
Bre Pettis and Kyo Stark, Cult of Done Manifesto


Introduction: What Do Design Students Need?

Designing (and Teaching) with Dirty Hands

When design curricula is slow to change, and it requires great effort to learn and understand the new and ever-changing technologies we must use as designers and teachers of design, its tempting to cling to what weve learned and what works as the end-all, be-all of design practice. Yet in schools, were seeking to keep our students hands dirty all the time. Perhaps were just turning over the same plot of land. In having taught the 80 Works class twice, and in having solved all of the challenges in the Creative Workshop booksome multiple timesweve dealt with a lot of ambiguity in the design process, as well as many blind spots in training and working as a designer. It would be impossible for us to profess expertise in many of the focus areas we tackled in class. In many cases, constructing a challenge and placing it in the hands of multiple designers has been a leap of faith: sometimes leading to highly successful and exciting design thinking, and sometimes zzling into a muted failure. But in all cases, we noticed that as the class (and by extension, the teachers) settled into not knowing where the next turn would take us, we became more creative and more willing to take risks. Pretending you know what youre doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what youre doing even if you dont and do it, say Bre Pettis and Kyo Stark in their Cult of Done Manifesto. They add: People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right. Flipping our fear of doing something wrong into a desire to experiment and take risks is what we think our students employers truly desire from the designers that they hire. We should be even more purposeful in how we cultivate these next generations of designers with the right thinking tools. This requires us to surprise ourselves, and by extension our students and co-workers. Time spent teaching tools and craft must be balanced with the time necessary for students to gain tacit knowledge in ideation, collaboration, sketching, and remaining nimble and creative under pressure. That is, if we want students to be employable and successful in their rst roles as designers, out in the world.

The rest of this e-book outlines how this more agile philosophy for design instruction was implemented in a classroom setting. Its our hope that there is material from this text that you can adapt, explore, and improve as part of your teaching efforts.

Introduction: What Do Design Students Need?



Exercise #

Using Creative Workshop in a Classroom Setting

The core of a Creative Workshop class is a set of instructor-provided challenges, which is then supplemented by a set of student-created challenges. The teacher then constructs story arcs out of the challenges for each class (and its accompanying homework assignments), conveying larger lessons about creativity, craft, teamwork, process, and other fundamental skills. students will become faster and faster at solving challenges, so youll need to further shorten their deadlines or increase the number of deliverables required as you progress. No challenge should have a time limit longer than two hoursespecially for take-home assignments, where students will be tempted to lavish days on polishing design executions. They can do that when the class is over. TrUe GoaLs For Growth Theres what youre asking your classes to create in a focus area, and then theres what you want them to learn. For example: Challenge #3, Time Machine, requires students to take an old advertisement and execute it as if it had been published in a modern magazine. While this is the goal for class output, what the challenge is actually teaching students is how to assess the strategy behind an advertisement, analyze the societal and artistic trends that helped to shape its execution, and translate all of those details into a modern design execution. This is no small featespecially in 90 minutes. SITS OUtside Everyones ComFort Zone (IncLUdinG YoUrs) Truly inspiring creative challenges arent bread-andbutter design problems. When constructing a challenge, think about how you can add variables or unusual constraints to an everyday project to push your class (and the teacher) into uncharted and risky territory. If you dont feel comfortable leading an exercise in an area of design you havent explored before, invite

What Makes a Great Creative Challenge?

For a challenge to succeed, it needs to contain the following attributes: An Area oF FocUs When considering which challenges to use in a classor creating your own challengesmake sure there is a clear, stated area of focus as part of the challenge statement. This ranges across the various domains of design, from branding to packaging to advertising to user interface design. This will help the class gauge what kinds of design outputs are necessary while solving the challenge. A list of focus areas is included in the Creative Workshop book. TanGiBLe Creative OUtpUt Each challenge requires tangible output, from a design sketch to a high-delity design execution. Sharing an idea verbally when time is up does not count for credit. An (ALmost) ImpossiBLe Time Limit In class, the time limits for challenges from Creative Workshop can be cut in half, or even shorter. If students arent rushing to the last second to complete the stated deliverables required at the end of a challenge, youve given them too much time. Your

Using Creative Workshop in a Classroom Setting


in other instructors or working professionals to help facilitate those challenges. Contains Content YoUr StUdents Care ABoUt Each time we taught a Creative Workshop class, we provided the students with a brief survey at the beginning where we asked them what types of projects and what kinds of clients theyd like to work with in the future. This information was incorporated into many of the class challenges and increased student engagement. In addition, we asked for each student to provide at the start of every class period a challenge that theyd created. This can be for credit, or for students to have input into the class content. Depending on how youve structured the class, you can select the student-suggested challenges that t the arc of upcoming classes and incorporate them. Based on student suggestion, weve included at least 20% student-inspired challenges over the life of each class weve taught. VARYING LEVELS OF DIFFICULTY The challenges in Creative Workshop are ordered from craft-oriented problems that hone making skills to design problems that are open-ended, highly complicated, and fraught with ambiguity. When brainstorming challenges for the class and the book, Mary hit upon the following categories for the different types of problems designers solve in their daily work, independent of disciipline: Foundation: The fundamentals of being a designer from a craft-based perspective. This includes typography, layout, grid systems, design history, research, illustration, and sketching. Execution: Moving from fundamentals to real-world design deliverables, while being forced to explore a range of design solutions in a faster timeframe than they may have attempted in the past. Materiality: The tangible act of making things as part of the design processoften without computersyielding design executions that rely on the handmade touch for their power. Instruction: Cultivating the crucial skill of breaking

real-world situations down into their constituent components, then analyzing them for ways in which they can be reconstructed and improved. Observation: Requiring students to step outside the classroom and their studio into the real world, using their senses to observe and reect on how other people behavethen using this insight as the fuel for design solutions. Innovation: Working with design problems specically in the domain of product design, service delivery, and social innovationforcing designers to grapple with how to reinvent businesses and reshape human behavior. Interpretation: Open-ended problems whose solutions require designers not only to determine what needs to be designed, but also to answer an even more important question: Why does something need to be made? An important additional category to note is Unsolvable Problems. Students often nd ways to approach lose-lose situations with creativity and fresh perspectives that provide new ways of inuencing major societal issues. We often throw one unsolvable problem into the mix as a nal assignment for the class, for all of us to understand exactly how far a designers reach can truly extend in dealing with wicked problems. Tasking students with an insoluble problem may seem a bit sadistic, but its one of the best ways for designers to understand what it feels like to grapple withand identify in the futurewhether a problem is wicked (i.e. inuenceable, but not solveable). For more on this topic, see our rationale for Challenge #79 on page 69 of this e-book.

Using Exercises in Your Existing Classes

When David taught Creative Workshop classes, each class period was four hours and consisted of solving ve challenges in a row. This was a great way to introduce a range of brainstorming methods, focus on a series of challenges that teach a specic skill, or break a large-scale project into digestible chunks. Its also possible to string out challenges over a series of weeks in a recurring fashion. At frog designs Seattle studio, David set up a biweekly lunchtime series to explore different methods of physical prototyping,


Using Creative Workshop in a Classroom Setting

using challenges from the book and timeboxing to teach different ways of building and evaluating complicated systems in a low-delity format.

Solution Structures
What is a solution structure? Its a method of engineering social situations around specied challenges that makes them much harder to solveforcing student designers to learn how to collaborate more effectively. In teaching classes involving Creative Workshop, we invented the following solution structures. See which ones you can come up with as well! STRUCTURE 1: 30 Days in 30 MinUtes Teams of three or four students are provided with a challenge, which they must solve in 30 minutes. Those 30 minutes are divided up into the following timeboxes: 8 minutes: Each team reaches a goal that is set by the teacher. 2 minutes: The teacher serves as the client, providing quick feedback to the teams and providing the next milestone. 8 minutes: Each team scrambles to incorporate the feedback and reach the next milestone. 2 minutes: The teacher/client gives another round of feedback and sets the nal milestone. 8 minutes: Each team incorporates the nal feedback and completes the nal solution(s) for the challenge. Last 2 minutes: Each team has 30 seconds to present their solutions. As an example that describes how this works in action: We provided a class with the Storybook Ending challenge in Creative Workshop, in which they had 30 minutes to come up with the plot and character studies for a childrens book. Over the rst 8 minutes of solving the challenge, they had to ideate around the theme of their book. In the second 8 minutes, they had to move from the theme to a full-blown plot and characters. In the last 8 minutes, they had to create a character study and a moral for their book.

We required the students to show an artifact for each client review, usually in sketch form. Sharing a solution verbally is not acceptable to the client. (When was the last time you walked into a client review and told them about your design idea without some tangible rendering of it?) This is a solution structure we have used in every Creative Workshop class period, continually varying the challenges and the unique deliverables required during each sprint; it forces students to work in parallel and quickly divide large design problems into smaller sub-tasks, which is a crucial skill for any work setting. STRUCTURE 2: the RoUnd-roBin Its useful to teach at least one class period in a quarter or semester where the output from one challenge is directly inputted into the next challenge theyll need to solve, while rotating the students into an entirely lateral design domain. As an example: in collaboration with the designer Scott Scheff, we created a ve-challenge sequence where one of my classes had to create a record store of the future. In the rst challenge, the students came up with the name of the store and its logo. In the second challenge, they planned out the store space in Manhattan based on a dened set of constraints provided by their real estate broker. The third challenge required them to brainstorm user ows for a mobile application necessary to buy and download music while in the space. In the fourth challenge, they created a 30-second TV ad for their store that had to include handmade puppets. For the fth and nal challenge, they had to craft a pitch for investment capital based on everything theyd created in the rst four challenges. STRUCTURE 3: VariaBLe CLient FeedBack For certain challenges, weve stopped the students midway through solving a challenge and provided them client feedback as an additional constraint. Another fun way to deliver client feedback is to isolate a student from the overall class, take them

Using Creative Workshop in a Classroom Setting


outside the classroom, and have them draw random feedback out of a hat that they spout back to the class in response to their work midstream. This not only makes the class become more creative in response to out of nowhere feedback, but also helps the student play-acting the client see what such a situation feels like from a clients perspective. Refer to page 10 of Creative Workshop for a starter set of client feedback items that will keep your class on their toes.

survived the entire quarter or semester. Also, consider a special prize for those students who complete all of the challenges. Its unlikely that most students will be able to turn in a solution for all the projects. (So far, there has been only one.)

Time Constraints
Assume at least 40 minutes of class time for each challenge the class attempts, including critique. Weve also allocated 40 minutes to discuss all takehome assignments, which are shared out for in-class critique and review. As an example: We have taught classes over the quarter system, meeting every week for four hours. In each class, we fullled ve challenges, and three challenges were provided as take-home work. A Creative Workshop class can be conducted over the course of a semester, but the shorter the time period for the entire class, the greater the benet. For a 7-week seminar, the class would need to complete 12 projects per week, while over a semester there may not be as much time pressure. This may require the teacher to intentionally manufacture such pressure.

Throw Yourself Under the Bus

Its helpful to read out a particularly difcult challenge, execute the challenge at the same time as the class, and then be a part of the critique process.

Class Lectures
As you plan the challenges that form the arc of each class period, consider what mini-lectures may be required that will help to solidify specic skills that youre teaching. As an example, weve introduced new brainstorming methods at the start of a class period, then had the students utilize those methods across a set of challenges to provide them a chance to road test each one individually. In another case, a lecture that closed out a class helped to set up ground rules for how the students could best fulll design research in the midst of their busy schedules. For sample lectures (in a raw format) that we delivered during the classes, take a look at the class archive here: http://changeorder.typepad. com/80_works_for_designers/lectures/

Class Rules & Regulations

Alongside the class syllabus, weve provided the following three guidelines to students: 1. You should fulfill every assignment and bring it to class, no matter what. Work fast. Turn your editor off. Take as many risks as possible. The greater the risk in the work that youre attempting, the more important that you bring it to class. You shouldnt have time to sit around and think about whether what youre doing is good. You should feel uncomfortable every time you show a solution to the class, no matter how much time you have to prepare it. 2. Everything is shown to the group, no matter what. Each assignment will be viewed and commented upon by the group. Listen to how other people view it, and what they think it can become from their various perspectives. This is invaluable input. Dont rush to defend what you meant to accomplish in the time frame. This class is about possibilities as much as nality, and its possible that the input of your peers may push your work in new directions you hadnt considered.

Closing Portfolio Review

When teaching a class that solves 40 to 80 challenges, the last class period should be reserved for a nal challenge and a review of all of the work created by each student over the life of the class. Students learn a great deal by placing 40 to 80 design executions in sequence on a table for the entire class to comment on. This process can take a number of hours, so weve encouraged students to bring food and drink and make it a celebration for having


Using Creative Workshop in a Classroom Setting

3. Failure on some of the projects will happen, and is a desirable outcome. Keep notes on what works and what doesnt work. Be willing to throw away work in progress to start over with what youve learned. Only when we reach the end of our class should you focus on what can be extracted from your best works over the life of the class. Until then, keep a record of your working process and progress, not what youll be including in your portfolio.

missed in-class challenges, or fulll appropriate substitute challenges as assigned by the teacher.  200 points will be provided for direct class participation and involvement The students grade could then be their earned points divided by 10 on a standard 100-point scale.

How Do You Grade Creative Workshop Classes?

In a class such as this, fair grading is based on two factors: in-class participation and solving all of the challenges posed by the teacher and class. Participation To receive credit, students will be required as part of their in-class work to: Regularly critique challenge solutions in a group Work collaboratively to solve challenges as teams  Keep a written record of what theyre observing about their working progress each week, either on a public blog or in a journal format that can be shared when appropriate with the class A  t the end of the class, help classmates identify which projects may become part of their portfolio (with any additional polish) ChaLLenGe CompLetion Students receive credit for each challenge they provide a solution for and present to the class. This is for both in-class and take-home challenges, including ones that integrate work from previous solutions into new solutions. SAMPLE GradinG MethodoLoGy At the end of a course with 80 creative challenges, a student could receive points as follows: 1  0 points for each of the 80 challenges that are shown to the class. This adds up to 800 points over the life of the class. If a student misses a class, they still need to turn in the take-home and

What Skills Should Students Have Before Taking a Creative Workshop Class?
Students without an initial foundation of craft-based design skillsideally with at least one to two years of design educationmay nd a Creative Workshop class with 40 to 80 challenges quite demanding. When we have taught a class, a portfolio review was required for student entry to ensure they would not need to fully acquire design fundamentals while solving all 80 challenges.

Planning the Arc of a Creative Workshop Class

On the next page are examples of how the above ingredients t together as part of an 80 Works class, as well as a blank template you can use to plan your own. (This is based on the quarter system, which is used in Washington state). The challenges can be arranged over the length of the class in escalating difculty and time investment. There should also be take-home assignments that require small group collaboration alongside individual exercises, much like what a designer experiences when entering into an in-house or studio work environment. The nal two to three weeks of the class can contain the most complex, most open-ended challenges you can muster.

Using Creative Workshop in a Classroom Setting


Creative Workshop Planning Worksheet: Quarter System (Sample Class Structure)

Category Week 1 In Class

Challenge Name
Hello, My Name Is

Category Week 6 In Class


Challenge Name

____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________

Interpretation Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Foundation _ _______________________ ____________ Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Materiality ____________ _ _______________________ Foundation Execution Foundation Foundation

____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________

Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Observation _ _______________________ ____________ Innovation ____________ _ _______________________ Innovation ____________ _ _______________________ Fundamentals Innovation Interpretation Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Interpretation Innovation Group:

Introduction to timeboxing & focus on fundamentals

Homework Week 7 In Class

Homework Week 2 In Class

____________ _ _______________________
Execution Group: ____________ _ _______________________

____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________

Instruction ____________ _ _______________________ Innovation ____________ _ _______________________ Interpretation _ _______________________ ____________ Execution Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Innovation Instruction Group: Interpretation Group:

Provide class


____________ _ _______________________
Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Materiality _ _______________________ Group: ____________ Foundation _ _______________________ ____________ Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Foundation ____________ _ _______________________

Begin to reduce time limits by here



Week 3 In Class

Week 8 In Class

Beginning to explore collaborative design practices

____________ _ _______________________



____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________

Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Observation _ _______________________ ____________ Materiality ____________ _ _______________________ Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Innovation Execution Interpretation Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Innovation Execution Group: Fundamentals Group:

Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Materiality _ _______________________ Group: ____________ Instruction _ _______________________ ____________

This is a breather class before the final stretch

Homework Week 4 In Class

Observation _ _______________________ Group: ____________ Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Materiality ____________ _ _______________________ Interpretation Execution Execution


Week 9 In Class

____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________

Observation _ _______________________ ____________ Materiality ____________ _ _______________________ Innovation _ _______________________ Group: ____________ Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Fundamentals _ _______________________ ____________ Innovation _ _______________________ Group: ____________ Instruction _ _______________________ ____________ Interpretation Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Observation _ _______________________ ____________ Instruction _ _______________________ ____________ Interpretation Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Interpretation ____________ _ _______________________ Innovation Group: Group:

____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________

Innovation Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Innovation ____________ _ _______________________ Interpretation _ _______________________ ____________ Interpretation Group: Interpretation Group: Instruction Group:

Starting to bring in design research methods

Homework Week 5 In Class

From here out, problems are too hard for solo designers to solve

____________ _ _______________________


Week 10 In Class Overwhelmingly

hard problems in

Execution ____________ _ _______________________ Innovation _ _______________________ Group: ____________ Interpretation Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Innovation _ _______________________ Group: ____________ Interpretation Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Interpretation Group: ____________ _ _______________________ Interpretation Well, in My Book ____________ _ _______________________ Interpretation Kobiyashi Maru ____________ _ _______________________


brief time frames

Homework Week 11 In Class


Using Creative Workshop in a Classroom Setting

Creative Workshop Planning Worksheet: Quarter System

Category Week 1 In Class Challenge Name Week 6 In Class ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________

____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________ ____________ _ _______________________

Homework Week 2 In Class

Homework Week 7 In Class

Homework Week 3 In Class

Homework Week 8 In Class

Homework Week 4 In Class

Homework Week 9 In Class

Homework Week 5 In Class

Homework Week 10 In Class Homework Week 11 In Class


Using Creative Workshop in a Classroom Setting



Exercise #

Teaching the Challenges: Foundation

Hello, My Name Is
The Goal Logo design Expansion into personal identity system The True Goal L  earn to organize disparate thematic elements into a concise statement  Separate the designer from the work, and internalize the objectivity that comes with this separation  Design for change and growth: understanding that a permanent mark does not necessarily mean a unchangeable brand When To Use It  Younger designers, especially those right out of school  Designers transitioning into freelance after working in-house or spending time at an agency Career transition Further Thoughts Designers have difculty with their own identities for a number of reasons. In choosing a logo, participants have to decide which skills to highlight and which to let fall away. This can be traumatic, especially for younger designers, who still want to Go and Be and Do Everything. This logo is for the artist one has become, and does not limit the artist that one will be. Remind everyone that designers grow and mature, and just like people, some of our more enduring brands (from IBM to the United States Postal Service) have also evolved their colors, font selections, and iconography. If your students are really stuck, limit the logo to a particular aspect of their work. While having four logos showing wizardry in After Effects, advertising, Maya, and wedding invitationsisnt practical in the real world, this initial constraint can help to organize the thoughts of a frantic Renaissance designer.

Easy as ABC
The Goal Create a typeface out of found objects  Add additional symbols or create a poster using the typeface The True Goal  Separate letters from each other and understand them as stand-alone forms Document the creative process When To Use It  Designers who are overly attached to a computer-driven process  Designers who feel they are not crafty or artsy  Anyone who loves to argue over which font is worse, Papyrus or Comic Sans

Teaching the Challenges: Foundation


Further Thoughts We learn words by rst learning letters, and so abecedarian exercises tend to rely on more rudimentary approaches. Most of the work will likely fall into two categoriesthe same material being used for all of the letters (jeans, ribbons, pushpins), or the word for the material starts with the letter being illustrated (B is for Boy, C is for Cat). Be on the lookout for typefaces that highlight the disconnect between the words for the objects and the letters they illustrate, as the inspiration for material choices may not be obvious to the entire class. This can make for good group discussion. Despite the description of a typeface of twenty-six characters, dont let that limit your participants. If someone speaks Greek, encourage him to compose from that alphabet. If he can present to the class a chart for comparison, even better. However, American Sign Language (ASL) and other hand-language systems are easy to replicate for this assignment, and they could be great temptations for students. Depending upon the class, you might want to clarify whether these are allowed or not.

When To Use It  Designers who struggle when moving deliverables between print to screen  Around discussions of timeless or iconic design Further Thoughts We think of research when it comes to designing products: How will a consumer use this? What kinds of features do they want? But the research for this assignment serves another purpose: to understand how design elements, motifs, and compositions have evolved from decade to decade. Start conversations about basic subjects such as font choice and white space. The why? of these choices may be a tired and common question, but getting designers to see the pervasiveness of a particular visual trend can be powerful. This will help them to see patterns in their own work and in the work of others. And by watching the progression of present-day work, it can also help them plan for future projects. Advertising has been around forever, and while the pictures and the products have changed, our basic needs havent. Though this is a research assignment at heart, it is also a great idea to point out whats happening beneath the visuals. What are we really selling when we design an ad? What are we really saying?

Time Machine
The Goal  Bring an old ad into the future after research  Or take a modern ad and push it back in time The True Goal L  earn to identify what works and what doesnt while integrating historical motifs into a design  Isolate individual elements in a design and adapt them appropriately, while maintaining overall cohesion  Understand the transient nature of visual descriptors and textual explanation despite the fact that the driving forces for the products have not changed (survival, acceptance, status, etc.)

We become very attached to our computers we encounter a lot of design through our computer but any disciplined designer will tell you, its just not the same as pencil and paper.


Teaching the Challenges: Foundation

One Line Logo

The Goal  Create a logo from a single unbroken line  With one or more partners, create a logo from individual unbroken lines The True Goal L  earn to incorporate mistakes into a design  Use basic sketching skills to communicate a complex identity rather than use the staid approach of type, image, and color selection When To Use It D  esigners who rely heavily on the computer to drive process  Alongside projects that are grounded by photographs, type, or materials Further Thoughts This exercise is one of several found throughout the book that is meant to help designers get back to basicsin this case, sketching. We become very attached to our computers, especially when the early stages of discovery rely so heavily on it. Whether its through emails or Internet research about our client, we encounter a lot of design through our computer. Its only natural to simply switch programs when it comes to the physical work of designing. There are even programs meant to mimic the act of sketching. But as any disciplined designer will tell you, its just not the same. With paper and pencil, the mistakes are more tangible than on screen. Its easier to see where the design has come from and where it is going to. Should strident challenges arise, students can always do the assignment twice (with a different client, of course), once with a computer and once without. Allow them to time their iterations, track their progress, and explore the efcacies of each process.

Im Drawing a Blank
The Goal  Make a folder using white as the dominant color Create associated sell sheets

The True Goal  Understand what people mean when they talk about white space as a design element  Learn to unravel overly complicated layouts and brand systems, reducing them to their most powerful elements  Discover new uses for small but powerful applications of other colors When To Use It  Designers transitioning from Internet to print  Students having difculty negotiating the balance of text to image  As a reward for designers who rarely nd an outlet for their minimalist approach, or as a punishment for those who feel the need to ll every inch of a page Further Thoughts Color is one of the more powerful tools we employ as designers. But often, were limited to the real world interpretations of those colorsgrass is green, skies are blue. With color being constantly attached to images illustrating reality, its easy for students to forget about red, green, and white as pure design elements. Especially when people start throwing around the concept of white space. As a color, white doesnt get a lot of respect. Its usually treated as the one thats there when nothing else bothers to show up. As a result, the power of white is conned to being a simple buffer between other elements. This exercise requires the designer to fully focus on white as its own unique entity.

Teaching the Challenges: Foundation


But its not all about white. By using white as the dominant element, students are forced to more closely analyze their other color selections. In a sea of white, a two-inch tall logo in red can become a beacon. While thats easy for a teacher to say to a student, it doesnt sink in until the decision is visible on the page.

Mr. Blue
The Goal  Design a magazine using the color blue as the driving design concept  Expand this into spreads, masthead, and an overall grid scheme

From a technical perspective, designers should be able to visually recognize branded colors (Starbucks green, Coca-Cola red). But beyond reading PMS colors and RGB values, we also have to communicate subtle differences in hue through verbal descriptions in meetings with our teams and clients. Given its perceptual subjectivity, color is difcult to speak about; the ability to speak clearly and condently about visual components and their related effects cannot be overemphasized. So as students present their solution to this challenge, encourage them to be as precise as possible in how they describe their work.

The Goal

The True Goal I dentify and then break down beliefs around color theory associations  Understand that color is not restricted to a particular hue  Train the eye to detect subtle shadings and undertones When To Use It  Designers consistently working in the same color palette  In conjunction with discussions around readability, culture, and psychology Further Thoughts Red means angry, blue means sad, green means envious. As designers, we dont need to know where these associations come from, but we do need to know that they exist. We also need to know that they are changeable; the proper use of blue in a layout can work with other elements to make the audience laugh or cry. Another color assignment, Mr. Blue plays with our ideas about color association and meaning. Realistically, you could use any color for this challenge, but as blue has the distinction of being the most popular color, there are more potential conceptual associations to play with.

 Learn to place elements in a xed grid  Learn to adjust grids based on new content requirements The True Goal  Understand that certain pieces of a design may run counter to a preferred aesthetic  Learn to view designs as a whole, and then learn to break them into their constituent parts  Learn to think about the grid as a powerful tool, rather than an unfortunate necessity When To Use It  As a reward for designers who feel discipline is a strong suit  To break designers from the habit of leaning on the same layouts  For less experienced designers who may know about grid systems, but may not understand how to construct them Further Thoughts Ah, the grid. Bane of many a designers existence, a throwback to the old ways of doing things, when the grid was brandished as a weapon by anal-retentive Swiss professors willing to do anything to crush the creative spirit of an aspiring artist.


Teaching the Challenges: Foundation

But while the grid is powerful, it is actually benevolent. The grid allows us to not only view a layout as one cohesive unit, but it also forces us to consider each individual element in relation to the others. When the grid weve initially set for a layout changes rapidly, we have to re-identify the prioritization of elements in the layout (because it may not be the same), and we are forced to consider each element anew. The physical position of elements is just as important as the elements themselves. When we become more comfortable with the grid and its ability to focus the eye on particular content elements, we can easily adapt that content for multiple formats. Changing a two-page spread into a trifold brochure is a lot less of a headache when weve had this kind of practice.

 Whenever a portfolio shows signs of being too homogenous, especially when a students work indicates that the prevalence of similar material is being dictated purely by preference and not ability  Designers who want to incorporate live event promotion into their repertoire Further Thoughts Grafti conjures up some specic, and perhaps unfair, associations. As designers, we have to be able to recognize the difference between reality and our own biases. At the same time, we also have to be aware that those same biases may exist in other people. This is pretty obviousnot everyone thinks like usbut with grafti, theres a lot of controversy over its artistic value. This is not just a struggle related to class and culture. Its also about creativity, control, spontaneity, and art in the public domain. The reasons behind the stigma and the reverence are complex. So, this exercise is a great way to explore our opinions about a complicated hot-button topic, so that we can determine how to talk to our clients about such design choices in the future. This challenge is also good for honing illustration skills; street artists work very hard to develop a personal voice in their work under extreme conditions. The opportunity to create a public happening around something as polarizing as grafti is something that designers dont often get to grapple with. And while we want to maintain our own individual style, just like street artists do, we have to remember that their work often incorporates elements from the surrounding environment. Students can really push this challenge by placing the store in different local neighborhoods, anticipating community responses and designing the logo and events accordingly.

Spray Paint Wars

The Goal  Use grafti hand-lettering to design a logo, storyboard, and storefront D  evelop an event for the store The True Goal  Learn to spot assumptions and stereotypes  Identify when to use those assumptions and when to ignore them B  egin to craft a vocabulary around promoting public events When To Use It  Students who need to hone their illustration skills

The rules of typography are not only the most helpful for constructing a powerful layoutthey are also unfortunately the most common for a client to ignore.

Teaching the Challenges: Foundation


Tragic Sans
The Goal  Create a brochure cover using ve or more distinct fonts  Add two more fonts to a brochure display setup The True Goal Learn  typography and arrangement as distinct design elements  Deal with clients who make truly terrible aesthetic decisions  Cultivate simplicity in complex layouts When To Use It Designers  whose work is consistently austere or simplistic  To settle battles between typeface snobs  In conjunction with discussions around readability, clutter, and distraction Further Thoughts By now, everyone should have a basic understanding of the rules of design. But our clients usually arent designers, and their tastes might offend every single principle we hold dear. So sometimes the rules we live by have to be broken. And the rules of typography are not only the most helpful for constructing a powerful layoutthey are also unfortunately the most common for a client to ignore. We think of fonts within certain frameworks, as being appropriate for one particular use but never for another. Fonts have looks and styles; some seem futuristic and others are perfect for more classic approaches. What happens when we separate each typeface from those associations? Can we change emotional reactions through word arrangement? The easiest solution to this challenge is to use one word per font. And while that addresses the issue of simplicity, it might not help a designer deal with the aesthetic crisis that multiple fonts can present. To

really challenge them, consider setting a word count minimum. As an alternative, try requiring a minimum number of additional design elements (i.e. ve fonts and a minimum of two photos), or require the use of typefaces generated in Easy as ABC.

Designers have to be able to teach themselves about a particular field or product and then design appropriately for it. When we present work to a client, we have to demonstrate a mastery of those concepts, even though we usually are not experts in that field.

The Goal  Distress the Helvetica typeface in a manner related to the original version  Design a poster that incorporates the updated font The True Goal  Learn what makes a particular construction work, and what doesnt  Gain a working vocabulary for describing necessary changes  Understand how to dissect a type-based solution into forms, principles, and execution When To Use It  To reward students who feel constrained in their output (i.e. any designer that has worked too long with an in-house style guide)  With anyone dismissive of design historys role in its future


Teaching the Challenges: Foundation

Further Thoughts Its time to shake up the establishment, but the establishment doesnt always want to be shaken up. How do we describe the need for an update to our client while still maintaining their original spirit? Coming up with fresh ideas is difcult enough; how do we make something classic fresh, when changing its form may be considered verboten? Be sure to emphasize each students description of their solution when solving this challenge. Its not enough for a student to run over a sheet of typewritten paper with a car and call it done. There has to be a solid conceptual bridge between the original font and the distressed output. Making these connections with photographs and logos is easy; typography is another beast entirely.

There may be students that already have an understanding of quantum computing. This doesnt excuse them from the research aspect of their project; in fact, they are under an even heavier burden in that they will have to scale their knowledge into a smaller output, rather than build up their newfound knowledge into a larger output. With regard to execution: what were working with in this exercise is similar to the typography-focused challenge Tragic Sansonly this time, were dealing with more ambiguous concepts from the client. Typefaces and logos conjure up certain feelings and resonances dependent upon the content surrounding them. Certain images and their presentation make us feel a company is conservative; others make them seem more cutting-edge. Sometimes, our clients challenge our interpretations, and a designer must know how to address those concerns.

Future Penmanship Strange Chemistry

The Goal  Design a futuristic logo using a hand-drawn solution  Extend this logo into Flash animation, stationery, or a Web site The True Goal  Discover how to handle seemingly conicting aesthetics  Understand how to research challenging ideas When To Use It  Designers who are showing a profound lack of research skills, or who are showing a weakness in being able to synthesize research information  In any class where there is a marked lack of hand illustration skills and/or understanding of the emotional and rational impact of typeface choice Further Thoughts Designers have to be able to teach themselves about a particular eld or product and then design appropriately for it. When we present work to a client, we have to demonstrate a mastery of those concepts, even though we usually are not experts in that eld. The Goal  A cover for an annual report using a handwritten solution with rened photography  Design an online experience that animates these two different aesthetics The True Goal  Understand how creative juxtapositions generate novel, potent relationships Avoid politics, sticking to the task at hand When To Use It  Surrounding discussions of the emotional inuence of particular design elements  Designers see this challenge strictly as an ideological exercise Further Thoughts Putting opposite things together is a reliable way of generating new and exciting relationships within a design. But with this challenge, its the content that can derail the process.

Teaching the Challenges: Foundation


Despite the type of client involved, this isnt about how we feel about chemicals or the green movement. Its about putting disparate concepts together and studying how they interact. Public opinion toward the environment and toward industry is frenzied right now, but dont let students get caught up in the politics. Make sure that students do not become distracted by the ideas represented here. While it is important to be able to identify our ethics surrounding the clients we feel comfortable representing, it is also important to be able to recognize basic design problems even within domains that may be ethically fraught. If we cant, then we lose the ability to migrate our execution skills from client to client. In short, this challenge is about nailing the basics. There will be plenty of time in other challenges for them to struggle with ethical issues.

 Gain an appreciation for how people of other backgrounds perceive common objects When To Use It Groups of students from diverse backgrounds  Groups that have exhibited polarized attitudes (or single-minded executions)

Further Thoughts There is a great power in universal symbols. Olive branches mean peace, frowning faces mean sadness, snow means Christmas. Unless youre Jewish. Or if you live in California. Or if Ah, symbols. We know how easy it is to miss the mark when we assume everyone sees the same things that we do. We attach meanings to pictures because of a staggering variety of inuences, most of them specic to our families, our hometowns, or our social circles. Everyone has a story to tell, and these stories have a profound effect on how we perceive ordinary objects. But we cant realistically design for each individual interpretation; eventually, we have to pick an image and some text and make it work. So for this challenge, encourage your students to talk about their images and the text they choose to accompany it. When we explore how text plays with these perceptions and attitudes, we can watch how our reaction to an object changes. More importantly, we can learn how to use text and images to change other peoples reactions. This is what effective advertising is all about.

Three in One
The Goal  Use a single item and accompanying text to convey three different meanings  Storyboard your favorite execution for a television spot The True Goal  Begin to understand the stories behind everyday items and how copy can manipulate those stories

Students can really struggle with iteration, mostly because they dont know how to incorporate failure into their process If you think something, and its terrible, no one will ever know. But you cant deny whats staring back at you on the page.


Teaching the Challenges: Foundation

10 x 10
The Goal  Design a container by drawing 100 sketches  Design a Web site for the container using the same process The True Goal U  nderstand that there really is no limit to the ideas in our mindswe just need to get them out of our thoughts and onto paper  Confront truly terrible ideas and learn that they are a powerful part of the design process When To Use It  Designers who dont like making mistakes and want to get it right quick  Around discussions concerning hand sketching vs. computer work Further Thoughts Its trendy right now to talk about mind-body relationships, about intuitiveness and ow. There are many nebulous and sometimes bizarre ways that people talk about the creative process. You can put all of that stuff aside. Because like a lot of things, the truth is that design is something you often have to physically do. Sometimes, you cant think through a problem in your head, you have to put pencil to paper and work on it in the real world. With a deadline breathing down your neck, you dont have time to gure out why such a physical process works, youre just glad that it does. Students can really struggle with iteration, mostly because they dont know how to incorporate failure into their process. Most dont know how to frame the concept of failure, and this is true even of more experienced designers. Every one of the sketches generated for this challenge isnt going to be The One, and facing the fact that we arent geniuses all the time is a little humbling for some. If you think something, and its terrible, no one will ever know. But you cant deny whats staring back at you on the page.

Teaching the Challenges: Foundation


Teaching the Challenges: Execution

Sixty Second Deadline
The Goal Create billboard copy in sixty seconds  Develop a series of billboards based on the most effective execution The True Goal  Learn to think efciently under extreme time pressure  Understand how design permeates our experience, and that everything and anything is fair game when it comes to generating concepts When To Use It S  tudents who idolize design as a pure, completely artistic discipline  Whenever the class seems to be progressing at a nice, safe pace Further Thoughts We can segregate parts of our life from design, because we dont see how they contribute to our process as designers. What does a toothbrush or a blue sock say about my process? your students may ask. It can say plenty if you let it, and once youve guided them through this challenge, theyll see why. Its easy to apply design principles to things that are designery. But when we can see those principles at work around things like hammers, popcorn, and headphonesthats when we know we understand those principles. Its not about being a slick salesman and coming up with a brilliant headline that makes everyone want to buy dust bunnies. Its about seeing the connections between the lofty and the mundane, and realizing that any sort of material can contribute to the effectiveness of our work. The sixty-second deadline is an added bonus for discipline. Even the best marathon runner knows how to sprint to the nish.

Hey, You Made That Up!

The Goal  Invent a product based on a random combination of syllables and develop a storyboard for a related motion-graphics piece  Add voiceover and music to the movie The True Goal  Learn how to set goals in open-ended scenarios  Think about how to describe products or ideas through motion When To Use It  Designers who have little to no experience with motion design  Students who thrive on constraint-based scenarios Further Thoughts Theres a strange relationship between the sound of a product name and the product itself. Certain letters


Teaching the Challenges: Execution

evoke specic emotions, and there have been a number of articles written about the effects of sound on our purchasing decisions. In this challenge, students will have to grapple with how the name of a product operates on a sensorial level with a potential consumer. All of those thoughts in the last paragraph about sound and feel in the naming of a product? A red herring for your students. The real reason why this one is such a challenge and that it has defeated scores of designers to date is because the name of the product has nothing to do with it. What students are actually doing here is designing with absolute freedom around the content. Were used to having tightly dened constraints driving our design process, and its difcult to do whatever we want without any guidance. When solving this challenge, the name doesnt have to relate to the product in any way whatsoever. A savvy designer could plot a solution for anything and just tack the name on at the end. But dont tell your students!

 Anytime the class needs to stretch their conceptual thinking skills Further Thoughts Annual reports have to convey a vast amount of information to a diverse audience of shareholders. At the very minimum, a design team working on an annual report has to blend hard data, corporate political spin, and idealized artwork. They have to make it work with a foundation built largely of subjective interpretations. And as an added challenge, all of those elements have to work together so well that the entire effect is subtle, not melodramatic or obvious.

Free Association
The Goal  Create the cover of an annual report using three unrelated elements  Develop an interactive experience from the concept The True Goal B  reak down expectations around logic, order, and sensibility  Learn to craft a visual narrative with wildly different components When To Use It Students  who have difculty perceiving trends or common features across multiple elements

Were used to having tightly defined constraints driving our design process. Its difficult to do whatever we want without any guidance.
Sometimes, the elements provided just dont form a cohesive whole. But we cant change a companys logo or their ofce mascot. We cant change where their headquarters is located or how attractive the development team is. We have to build the best story that we can. When kicking off this challenge, be sure to have students select the elements one at a time. Additionally, its best to do this challenge in class, if only to protect the separate random generation of the three elements. Students can easily reverse-engineer the process if given the opportunity. If there seems to be too easy of an agreement between the three elements, you may try having students pick one element for the person on their left and then another for the person on their right. Do whatever it takes to prevent relationships from being drawn too quickly.

Teaching the Challenges: Execution


Im Feeling Really, Really Lucky

The Goal  Redesign the user interface of a randomly selected webpage  Expand that redesign to the entire site The True Goal W  ork with strong, established Web sites or within deeply embedded systems to nd small but signicant ways to better them O  n a practical level, build a vocabulary for assessing the effectiveness and purpose of a Web sites information architecture and user interface design  Understand how interfaces can be broken down into constituent parts and how their qualities change when they are attached to or detached from other elements in the design When To Use It  Designers who seem too comfortable with a design being donei.e. the ones that display anger or anxiety when you suggest moving a headline a few pixels  With younger students, as it is easy to divide a class into those that grew up with computers and those that didnt  In conjunction with conversations about working with established brands

Further Thoughts There are two main approaches to explore for this challenge, one for the client and one for the designer. Of course, in the real world, we balance these two approaches, but it can be helpful for young designers to study each approach separately. Depending upon the needs of your class, you can look to the client for direction when he brings strongly established work to an agency for improvement. In these situations, designers have to identify what components contribute to the direction and image of the company and eliminate those that detract from it even if those components are highly functional within the Web site. On the other side of the challenge is the approach that identies pieces within a web environment strictly by effectiveness and usability. Here, the designers approach drives the project rather than the brand. While it may seem strange to analyze a Web site from a purely functional perspective, its helpful to remind your students that well-organized Web sites tell their own particular story about a company and its directives. Its less a straightforward narrative and more like how a stage is set for the story in advance. All in all, this is a very basic challenge. Though the class could spend a lot of time in discussions about user-centered design vs. brand-centered design, dont let those topics distract from the task at hand. In this challenge, students are deciding in the initial stages of design exactly whos calling the shots. Are we respecting the brand or our own experience? Are we able to tell the difference?

Informed choices about our tools help us make informed choices about our processes. That helps us develop effective work for our clients.


Teaching the Challenges: Execution

It Sounds Better on Vinyl

The Goal  Make an LP album cover that uses a photograph and transitions into illustration, or vice versa  Design the back cover, sleeve, and label for the record The True Goal C  ombining skill sets and determining the common processes behind each  Using imagery to convey similar themes in a different art form: music When To Use It Whenever  class is feeling a little too much like work  Students who struggle with transferring and applying similar systems and vocabularies across multiple media Further Thoughts The more things change, the more they stay the same. The laymans denition of innovation requires that a designer truly believe that something new can be brought into the world. And while its powerful to imagine the new and exciting things that certain technologies can bring to us, its helpful to remember that the lessons we learned about the previous technology still might apply. The systems can be transferred. The ways that we thought about vinyl records didnt simply vanish when the compact disc came to market. The same can be said about illustration, photography, and the Internet. Humans have developed very specific ways to talk about the representation of an image, regardless of how that representation occurs. There may be things that can be done in lm that cant be done on stage, but the ideas represented by both art forms remain the same. By deeply exploring the similarities in representative systems, we can more clearly understand and exploit those differences. The true power of a particular

technology or media comes from being able to extract from it exactly what makes it special and vital to the task at hand. Why do we choose Adobe Illustrator over a pencil and paper? When is a whiteboard better than a handful of sticky notes? Informed choices about our tools help us make informed choices about our processes, and that helps us develop effective work for our clients.

Storybook Ending
The Goal  Develop a storybook for children  Ask a toddler to help nish the book The True Goal  Learn to tell stories in their simplest form: as the progression of a single idea over time  Learn how to establish closure as part of a longform narrative When To Use It  Students overly comfortable with generating static ideas in single outputs, or the opposite, ideas that open up to lots of potential but that have no nal destination attached to them  Designers worried about creating meaningful work Further Thoughts Telling stories is integral to what we do as designers, but all too often, we come up with a driving image and leave it at that. Developing a campaign for a car that says freedom or a perfume that says beautiful is relatively easy. But moving that idea across time can be difcult, even though its what makes really fantastic work. What happens when the customer buys freedom, and where does it take them? How do we communicate the possible journeys contained in a technology or service? Students will be building a foundation for things like developing personas, targeting demographics, and creating integrated campaignsstorytelling as a

Teaching the Challenges: Execution


professional discipline. But you dont have to tell them that. The rst thing for them to master is how to actually write a story, and that means that the work needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. On the surface, this seems counter to everything that we do; were supposed to be letting the customer decide the story. We give them choices and freedom and all of that. But people dont really work that way. They dont exist in a vacuum. They communicate in stories. They need inspiration. They compare. They cant forge their own path if they dont feel like they know what the other options are. Storytelling in design is a good way to communicate to your team and your client what youre doing. Its a good way to focus your research and narrow your approach. But when you really push the concept, storytelling is about giving your audience tools they can apply. The childrens book in Creative Workshop is about patience. Children take the story and apply it to their lives. If its not applicable, it wont resonate. And if it doesnt resonate, it wont create the most rewarding thing in our careers: meaning.

Further Thoughts This is a practical challenge, because it deals with the repercussions of research. In order to create a good series, students are going to have to decide what would be covered in each book. Philosophy is complicated. There are hundreds of schools, philosophers, movements, and concepts to sort through. Beyond the obvious task of making books that look good together, are the challenges of setting boundaries, determining categories, and deciding what moves to the nal product and what gets left behind. Invariably, a student will ask Should I include Philosopher X? Heres our answer: We screen out information all day long, usually because of efciency. We dont need to look at the sky to know if its raining. We decide that the question of Is it raining? can be better answered by listening for the rain, or by looking for puddles, or other information. We prioritize the available options. The activity of looking at the sky doesnt make it to the nal product. Does Philosopher X give you any information that couldnt be obtained elsewhere? Or is Philosopher X the preferred way of acquiring that knowledge? If students need more work in this area, you can dramatically increase the amount of time for the challenge in order to ask for more detail in the execution and the overall editorial approach for the books. They can produce a table of contents or a timeline for each book. Have students compare their organizational systems, so everyone receives broad exposure to the different ways that complex information can be prioritized by different people. They should be prepared to explain and defend their decisions in front of the class regarding what might be included in the individual books.

Dead Philosophers Rock

The Goal  Create a set of philosophy books that are visually linked  Use those concepts in an interactive timeline for a Web site The True Goal Learn  to research and prioritize information  Develop boundaries to narrow focus within overwhelming topics or elds When To Use It  Designers that have only had to create single itemsan ad here, a poster there  Students that have developed style sheets and visual systems, but may need help in applying that knowledge to more complicated approaches beyond just typefaces, colors, and margins

Opposites Attract
The Goal  Design a book cover  Repeat the process using a specic pre-determined constraint on the output (collage, typeonly, etc)


Teaching the Challenges: Execution

The True Goal Explore  objectivity and control in representing these concepts  Determine individual opinions around cultural norms or restrictions When To Use It Designers  looking for ways to make their work more politically viable  Around discussions regarding gender, discrimination, idealism, and social agreement Further Thoughts We carry a lot of cultural baggage. Our cultures opinions about abstract ideas such as peace, beauty, good, and bad can be seen in nearly everything, from the colors we use to identify gender to the products that television characters have in their homes. Were faced with all sorts of subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) messages on a regular basis about how we should or shouldnt interact with the world around us. This challenge is about learning to identify those inuences. Its about understanding what words really mean, to ourselves and to each other. It is not about being different or about rejecting the opinions of others. If two people disagree on what it means to be beautiful, one of them is not normal while the other is subversive. They simply view those concepts from different perspectives, both of which are vital to a ourishing culture. On the other hand, this challenge isnt carte blanche to put any old image on the cover because someone, somewhere, will nd that it speaks to them. This project can help people establish and explain normal (or demographically applicable) for a particular project so they can build conceptual systems from that viewpoint.

Book Report
The Goal  Turn a book synopsis into a book cover  Either continue the design into front matter and chapter headings, or read the book and make appropriate revisions The True Goal  Efcient storytelling Identifying single images to convey story themes When To Use It  Students who come from disparate educational and cultural backgrounds  Designers who have worked alone for long periods of time Further Thoughts Book covers tell the story of a story. They have to balance representing another persons view while also justifying their presence as an essential contributor. Just like a designer Depending upon how advanced your students are, you can easily restrict this challenge to revolve around its most basic lesson: listening to others. How much information can we glean about a topic from only a few minutes of explanation? How quickly can we identify and communicate the main topics and images from a particular experience? How much does our relationship with a person inuence the information that we extract? Once your students are ready to move this assignment beyond listening, you can start a discussion about

How much does our relationship with a person influence the information that we extract?

Teaching the Challenges: Execution


balance in creative work. Its frustrating to watch a movie trailer that gives away the whole lm. Its irritating when a commercial is too obvious. Designs can careen out of control sooner than we think; suddenly a layout that casually informed now tells us far too much. The push and pull of visual storytelling requires delicate balance. As designers, we want to be true to the vision and voice of our clients, but we dont want to be parrots. After all, we have our own unique talents to wield. How do we turn someone elses experience into something universally appealing without it becoming exploitative, or worse, dishonest? And how do we do all of that in a way that makes us look good?

then into the world as a 3D object again. This is the rst challenge in the book that exploits these complexities, because unlike the 10 x 10 challenge, this requires three unied outcomes to the problem. On a side note, though the design examples in the book involve the same product shape with slightly different label options, remind your students that the form need not be the same for each version of the product. Can they develop a consistent visual system for a series of products where the container itself denes its use rather than the label?

Totally Cereal
The Goal  Design a cereal package based on a brief marketing statement  Sketch a attened view of the package that shows all of the panels The True Goal  Work on that old chestnut: showing, not telling and when to let this imperative drive the design process  Understand why certain products need to be seen rather than described When To Use It  Designers who need more experience with designing a story around a parity product  Students who have trouble visualizing dimensional packaging concepts Further Thoughts

He Shaves, She Shaves

The Goal  Design gender-specic and gender-neutral packaging  Place these products in a display and incorporate them into a point-of-purchase environment The True Goal  Learn to transition work from the page to the physical world  Uncover how we interact with design elements within 3D space When To Use It Designers  without product design experience  Around introductions to form and how the shaping of a substrate can dictate a design direction Further Thoughts Were trained to think of the page (or the screen) as a launch pad, a space that allows us to realize our wildest designs. But the page is a at surface, and designers need to be in a different headspace altogether when they use the page to design 3D products. This is not about shading or drawing techniques; its about the mental complexities involved in moving a 3D shape from your head to the 2D space of the page,

Further on the product design front, this challenge lets designers work with packagings role in visualization rather than its role as logo holder. What does that mean? In the previous challenge, we looked at shaving cream, a product that doesnt need to be seen in order to be sold. The labeling merely has to describe the product from a functional perspective. We need to know who makes it and when to use it. No ones going to eat it.


Teaching the Challenges: Execution

Cereal packaging, like most food packaging, is a challenge specically because people do eat the contents. There are very few boxes of the stuff out there that dont have a picture of at least one or two akes on the front (enlarged to show detail). Consumers want to see what they eat, and a picture can easily tell them about the crisped rice, raisins, or choco-biscuits. Plus, pictures leave room on the box for the nutritional information, which isnt so easy to convey in a photograph. Encourage your students to play with the idea of showing as a way of telling about a product. Note that the examples in the book play with how the cereal is shown; some have illustrations, while others have clear panels to display the actual product. What determines a designers decision to show the actual product as opposed to a representation of it? There are many examples of this on the market with different products. Why do we need to see the actual pencils we buy but not sh sticks?

the audience guess part of the challenge sounds fun, its actually the most important part. Like a book cover, DVD packaging has to sell the product inside. But a DVD is selling visual images rather than the audiences imagining of those images. As a result, a designer working with video or lm has to communicate a story with a greater degree of precision. Theres an entire cinematic philosophy around how certain angles, motifs, and even wardrobes communicate critical details to an audience. But a designer doesnt necessarily need to understand all of that to create an effective package. Students will need to come up with a good story and then design for that story; generating their own ideas will be enough of a challenge without having to worry if the design really says, The butler did it! The Take It Further for this challenge will help students work with a larger form, which of course means that they have to further rene their original output. Use this poster constraint with students are struggling to simplify their designs.

Imaginary Film Creature Feature

The Goal Design a DVD cover for an imaginary lm Design a movie poster for that lm The True Goal L  earn how to make single images convey complex stories, successfully  Understand the vocabulary of images and text within a cinematic context When To Use It Designers  who are coming from or moving into the realm of video  Around conversations of visual complexity specically when a design should be simplied and how to do it Further Thoughts This challenge works very well with Book Report. Its the same concept in reverse. Though the have The Goal  Design a Web site about the history of monster movies  Design an interactive experience around a particular monster movie

Designs can careen out of control sooner than we think; suddenly a layout that casually informed now tells us far too much. The push and pull of visual storytelling requires delicate balance.

Teaching the Challenges: Execution


The True Goal L  earn how to construct taxonomies for Web site information architecture  Explore how to art direct Web sites to include more immersive video content When To Use It Designers  ready to tackle larger Web sites with more intricate information architecture  Students looking to incorporate video into their Web site designs Further Thoughts This is another challenge that builds on the lessons learned in a previous challenge; this time, its Dead Philosophers Rock. The key difference here is that, even at its most comprehensive, the history of monster movies is relatively short and sweet when compared to the history of philosophy. Its easy to put a lot of information on a Web site, but its difcult to make the content useable, let alone entertaining. Designers have to plan the journey of a user through a system. Each question in the construction of the monster movie site points to a particular skill required for effective Web design. Deciding on an effective way to let a user search for a particular movie, for example, can lead a student in any number of directions. Are movies identied by title and year? What about theme or actor? Is there a way to nd movies that are based on classic horror novels? Designers can apply any organizational system theyd like to the site; they just have to defend their decisions.

Ten-Second Film Festival

The Goal  Create the user interface for a short movie festival  Consider the ramications of shorter movies ve seconds or even two The True Goal  Think about sequential content and how to organize it  Minimize the amount of effort it takes for a user to move through a large volume of data to access content they want When To Use It  Whenever your students have become complacent or over-condent in their Web site design skills  In discussions about effort and ease within interface design Further Thoughts We dont mean to bait-and-switch on you, but sometimes its best to sneak up on a lesson in order to capture it. This challenge has nothing to do with the actual output. The Web site is secondary. This challenge is about determining how to deal with so many tiny pieces of lm.

Social media has transformed the way we think about the effective length of a communicated idea. And while social networking tools are a nice place to start for students that are stuck, they dont address the root of the problem.


Teaching the Challenges: Execution

Ten seconds isnt very long. If your students think this one is too easy, just ask them to quantify one key component of the user experienceexactly how many clicks is it going to take to watch all of the movies in the festival? What if there are 50 lms? Over a hundred? If theyre paying attention, your students will be cowed by the cacophany of clicks lling their heads. The ideal user experience is going to take work. Social media has transformed the way that we think about the effective length of a communicated idea. And while social networking tools are a nice place to start for students that are stuck, they dont address the root of the problem. These short lms have to be displayed, rated, selected, and sorted with relative ease, and that has its own inherent complexity.

Because the more stuff ideal can backre, causing brand confusion or even indifference among consumers. The question here is whether you can design an effective selling environment with a limited number of products. Can your students conjure a space that entices people to buy, simply by being a welldesigned space? Can a companys product (and their store) become successful, not because it has blanketed every corner of the market with dozens of unique products, but because it does one thing and does it well? If there are students struggling with environmental design, send them back to He Shaves, She Shaves. Environmental design is a large can of shaving cream; well-thought out and elegant packaging design ts within it. We are already conditioned to think of a store as a place where you buy things, so thinking of the store itself as a large package shouldnt be too much of a stretch.

Ive Got a Golden Ticket

The Goal  Design a store experience with only three products  Make a physical prototype of those products The True Goal B  egin to design for an experience rather than for individual content items  Think about overall brand decisions rather than specic pieces of merchandise When To Use It As  an introduction to environmental and interior design  Students who are less experienced in brand or theme-driven designs Further Thoughts The viability of a space is driven by market forces. If you arent buying something there, its a bad store. And the more product that you have in a store, the more money you can make. Stores have stuff. The more stuff, the more prot. Its all pretty simple. And insidious.

Flapping in the Wind

The Goal  Develop a guerrilla marketing campaign  Write an experience of this event from an as-ithappens perspective to rene the overall idea The True Goal  Build methods to communicate highly personal experiences in objective terms  Learn to communicate anticipated outcomes that are not directly sales-related to clients When To Use It  Designers needing to work on personal communication skills  Students who have not done design work around real-world experiences Further Thoughts Guerrilla marketing events are just that: events. And like most events, we relate them to others in

Teaching the Challenges: Execution


photographs or status updates, because we understand that every persons experience of that event is unique. From a marketing perspective, however, we have to be focused. It has to raise brand awareness. People cant just have their own grand time while our client gets nothing. The Take it Further will help students work with their own vocabulary around subjective events. Students probably wont have a lot of experience in objectifying personal experience. Its not a skill many of us have to begin with. When we communicate with clients, however, we have to turn uniquely personal experiences with singular events into relatable stories for our clients to invest in. Our target audiences have to be unique, but not so unique that they wont t into a particular archetype or demographic. If we give a client too many individuals to design for, the event looks less like marketing genius and more like an entertaining distraction.

inexible. We sculpt our content to t the grid, trimming video windows and scooting menu bars around like Tetris blocks. Designers are proud when their Herculean efforts to make it t yield a dizzying fortress of perfectly arranged rectangles and squares. None of those strategies will work for this particular client, whose entire brand goes against that aesthetic. Designers have to maintain the grid on Web sites for obvious reasons, but it is possible to fold a sense of openness into the interface. Challenge your students to nd other ways to keep their content straight. If your students have ever studied the Fibonacci sequence, they can tell you that its easy to see it clearly in the nautilus shell. But do they know its also in the center of a sunower, a structure few think of as being orderly?

Sell Me a Bridge
The Goal  Make a compelling online banner for a lowexcitement place  Develop a rich media ad to romance the actual location The True Goal  Learn how to nish assignments that you really dont want to do  See above, this is a very difcult thing! When To Use It  Students who have not worked in the real world  Designers overly attached to their politics, their typefaces, or their hipster license Further Thoughts It would great if our careers contained an endless stream of cool projects. We could be art directing photo shoots on exotic tropical islands, designing posters for blockbuster movies, or spending long dreamy days putting the nishing touches on our 3,977th album cover design for artists like U2. But a career in design doesnt always work that way.

Going to Seed
The Goal  Make an online magazine with a unique grid  Transition this online experience into a print solution The True Goal L  earn the difference between use of grid systems for the Internet and grid systems for the printed pagethey each have their own quirks F  ind out how to make a grid feel invisible When To Use It Designers  transitioning to the Internet from print  Students whose designs are overly strict or rigid in appearance Further Thoughts Its two dozen exercises later, and the grid is still important. Organizationally speaking, the grid systems used on the Internet are solid. They are consistent and


Teaching the Challenges: Execution

We sometimes have to take on projects we dont want, working for clients we dont like. We might not even realize how terrible a project is until were several weeks into it. Figuring out how to stay motivated during these darkest of hours is the number-one challenge for any creative professional. And the ckle nature of creative motivation means that were continually reassessing what helps to motivate our best work. Barrelling through one project might require Pink Floyds The Wall on continuous loop, while the next late night might demand pounds of dark chocolate. Students develop a sense of their strengths and weaknesses with particular skills and programs pretty fast. But beyond those tools and skills, we always have a client who needs us to deliver a convincing nal productno matter whether were disconnected from the subject matter at hand or just plain hung over. Sometimes our most powerfuland overlookedtool is willpower.

Further Thoughts Weve all got talent. And we all know where to nd talent if we dont have it: the people we know. But after a while, we can sink into familiar relationships with our talents and our friends. We become known for that one cell phone ad we did a few years back. We have the dog portrait lady on speed-dial. At rst, its style. Then, we move on to stuck. Style is really about preferences and the decisions we make that appeal to us. As designers, we tend to have a greater technical mastery within the media we prefer. From the wonders of ravioli to the effortlessness of Helvetica, we simply have a more robust vocabulary for what we like. In this challenge, students will rst have to identify their preferences, then decide on what would comprise its opposite. Are hand-drawn scribbles really the opposite of sans-serif typefaces? Have them explain their choices, as subtle design preferences can permeate work when no ones looking. Sleeping is a good metaphor for discussions around style. When we step away from the daily grind to sleep, we encounter the weird and wonderful inside of us.

Lets Take a Nap

The Goal  Create a poster using techniques that are in opposition to your usual style  Print the poster and observe peoples reactions to it The True Goal W  ork to dene your personal style and nd ways to expand your repertoire  In Take it Further, begin to work with observing reactions to design in the general public When To Use It Students  who have yet to develop a style, or those in denial about the obviousness of their style  On the subject of the challenge: conversations about work-life balance

Figuring out how to stay motivated during these darkest of hours is the numberone challenge for any creative professional Sometimes our most powerful and overlooked tool is willpower.

Teaching the Challenges: Execution


Teaching the Challenges: Materiality

Type Face
The Goal  Construct a typographic portrait out of quotations  Construct a portrait of multiple people The True Goal T  hink of type as an illustrative facet of design  Understand how legibility truly functions within a design When To Use It  Designers who are weak illustratorsthey probably know who they are  Students needing extra help in pairing images with copy elements Further Thoughts This challenge revisits the work begun in Easy as ABC from earlier in the book. Students learned in that challenge to view and construct letterforms from materials drawn from the outside world. Here, they are being asked to mould those letters into illustrative components, which seems easy. However, were frequently taught that the most important thing about a typeface is its legibility and transparency for content. If you cant read it, you should change it make it simpler! For this challenge, that dictum is turned on its head. Depending upon the chosen illustrative style and typeface selection (or creation) made by the student, When To Use It  Around conversations about size and visibility  Students needing to learn how to be exible about when its appropriate to detail their work Further Thoughts Designers face a steep learning curve when extreme size enters their world. Working on the fringes, large and small, demands a more iconic style. Billboard ads dont have the capacity to convey the volume of content that a magazine ad can. This may seem odd, at rst, considering that one is substantially larger the readability of the quotation could easily devolve in order for the portrait itself to become more apparent. Controlling this balance between typographic legibility and illustration delity is completely up to you. If you want the portrait to be perfectly clear, or vice versa, be sure to specify. Of course, the ultimate challenge would be to ask your students to deliver both on equal terms.

Lick it Good
The Goal Make a set of six stamps  Design a commemorative booklet for the stamps The True Goal  Develop a series within a limited style  Understand how size inuences delity


Teaching the Challenges: Materiality

than the other. The fact is, once we reduce or explode something past a certain size, we lose delity. The intricacy of the illustration styles can be tricky for students. Theyll watch as their seventeen-layer collage stamp loses all detail and dimension when reduced to something less than an inch wide. This lesson easily transfers to treatments involving things like company logos and photographs. There are times when every pixel has to be perfect, and there are times when no ones going to be able to see the brown gecko perched on the second leaf from the top of the rst palm tree in that commemorative postage stamp from Bali. But realistically, the distances involved when viewing a billboard have the same effect. Whether big or small, this design problem will show up eventually. So if they teach the same lesson, why did we pick postage stamps over billboards? Postage stamps are a lot easier to t in a classroom.

while powerful, is only as strong as the designer at the keyboard. And while interacting with the real world is an important part of being a designer, it can be a tough sell for those born and bred using computer tools. Some people dont want to deal with clients or be outside taking pictures of bridges. Theyll never have to ask a photographer to adjust the depth of eld to make the copy more legible or to tone down the contrast so the logo really pops. These masters of post-production can do it all with Adobe Creative Suite. There is something to be said for staying inside and working away. However, there comes a point in every designers career where she has to render a realistic object. And good rendering requires a complete understanding of the form in order to represent it realistically on screen. It could be an apple or a car; it really doesnt matter. If she hasnt manipulated and observed three-dimensional objects in the real world, her attempts at reproducing them on a computer dont stand a chance. Shes a mouse-click away from the drop shadow of death.

Never Tear Us Apart Trompe LOh Wow

The Goal Make a poster out of torn objects  Decide how the designs elements from the poster could be used in a live setting The True Goal Work  in three dimensions, without a computer  Gain a vocabulary for discussing representations of real objectsespecially via the medium of photography When To Use It D  esigners lacking photography skills or the ability to talk about photography (especially texture, lighting, and dimensionality)  Students who are too attached to their computers Further Thoughts Its another anti-computer challenge! By now, your students should have discovered that the computer, The Goal Make a logo that incorporates an optical illusion  Create a corresponding branding kit that includes a magic trick The True Goal  Fail as a group (probably)  Celebrate individual genius (hopefully) When To Use It  Around discussions of easy projects  Whenever your class needs to fail, or whenever they need a class hero Further Thoughts This challenge can be deceiving. We know a lot of individual optical illusions, but its difcult to nesse those into workable designs.

Teaching the Challenges: Materiality


So as the instructor, your job is a simple one: let your students fail. This will probably be the rst challenge that few can complete in the time limit to a level of satisfaction. Plus, depending on the experience of your students, this may be the rst project that any of them have ever failed. Most designers dont get the opportunity to think about how to process failure and talk to clients under those circumstances. Then again, you might have a student who really delivers. In that case, its a great opportunity for your class to learn how to celebrate inspired design. Recognizing the efforts of others, especially when theyre doing better work than you are, is an essential skill for any designer. We learn a lot when we make mistakes, but we can learn just as much when others dont.

between eye-catching and plain old ugly? The second path is a little more time-consuming, but it can be a great way to introduce people to the concept of responsibility in design without requiring a sermon. We design things with sustainability in mind, use soy-based inks, and try to keep unethical companies out of our portfolios. Many a designer has vowed to never work for an oil company. Appropriation can be a dirty word. What about plaid, though? Historically, the tartan is representative of a particular culture, and the color combinations are unique to each clan. Will your students research this to nd an arrangement that hasnt been used? Are alcohol companies off-limits while their selected plaid is ne? This is a great opportunity for students to understand what cultural meanings may be hidden within the patterns they select, and their limits around what they include in their work.

I Heart Plaid Candles

The Goal  Design a high-end candle whose package incorporates a plaid pattern  Expand to paisley, or design an advertisement for release of the candles The True Goal  Challenge notions of attractiveness  Begin to explore ethics and responsibility in design When To Use It S  tudents who frequently borrow motifs from other sources as inspiration  Designers who need to explore more linear designs or that need more work with color theory Further Thoughts There are two main paths for this challenge; feel free to choose according to the needs of your class. The rst path is more obvious. Plaid can be garish and hard to coordinate with. Of course, a lot of people nd plaid brands, such as Burberry, not only attractive but also collectible. Can your students toe this line

Outdoor Wedding
The Goal  Make a set of wedding invitations out of natural materials  Make decisions regarding mass production of the cards The True Goal  Work within a tight series, without taking copy elements for granted in terms of consistency  Begin to plan assembly timetables and learn how to adjust them  Understand the complexities around how we describe and label art When To Use It  Students lacking signicant prototyping or assembly experience  Students requiring work in designing a tightly controlled series


Teaching the Challenges: Materiality

Further Thoughts There are many different things happening in this challenge. Well briey touch on just three. First, some students may have had experience designing a series, but this challenge is a little tighter in scope. Each invitation they create has to convey the same information, and its only the decorative details that differ. Because of this, your students may take consistency for granted.

Crane Promotion
The Goal  Design a brochure that incorporates origami  Design brochures that interlock The True Goal  Think of paper-crafting and prototyping in a new, different light

A brochure that doubles as origami can imply complexity and precision in the same way as the architecture of an elegant building.
Next, from a timetable perspectivethis may be one of the rst projects where a student is having to complete multiple pieces for a project with a production mindset. As you nesse the assignment, theyll have to decide how to best develop a ow for assembling each nished piece. Help them make any adjustments necessary for them to focus on shoring up weaknesses in their production skills. And nally, while we make a lot of unique works as designers, very little could ever be considered art. This challenge, including the Take it Further, can open signicant discussions around how we label art. Each invitation is unique, but its being mass-produced for commercial purposes. Is it design? Is it art? What if one person assembles them all? What about three? How are their answers inuenced by the classic studio art system, in which a single artist employs multiple workers to execute proprietary designs?

 Uncover multiple uses for a single design, incorporating layered thinking When To Use It  Students who have had little experience in working with the medium of paper  Students who think they know print design inside out, and need to learn what they dont know about the complexities of dimensional paper design Further Thoughts Were halfway through the book; its time for something really cool! Origami has a rich history, and it has recently experienced a renaissance of sorts. Paper-manipulation and folding isnt just for kids anymore; scientists use it for atomic modeling. Its a unique way to talk about multiplicity in design. Can a piece work on multiple levels, not only from a functionality perspective but also on a representation level? Students may struggle with the origami mechanism itself, and thats okay. We dont have to master every challenge thrown at us. The important thing for the students who fumble their folds is that they internalize how form can provide another level of meaning to our work. A brochure that doubles as origami can imply complexity and precision in the same way as the architecture of an elegant building, or the unfolding of a delightful user interface design.

Teaching the Challenges: Materiality


Just My Prototype
The Goal  Generate a web site redesign through paper prototyping  Move a user interface design in a more functional direction by incorporating tool tips, menus, or other navigation The True Goal B  egin thinking about usability and functionality, and how those ideas might be compromised without exploring physical representations of a system D  iscuss the differences between screen testing and physical testing methods When To Use It A  round instruction about prototyping  When discussing the importance of usability Further Thoughts Much like Im Feeling Really, Really Lucky, this challenge will force designers to play with the information architecture and overall organization of content for a user interface. The use of physical prototyping allows the students to go through an easy-to-understand process before they jump onto the computer to apply spit and polish. This also provides a venue for students to begin thinking about how to test their organizational ideas before they fully execute any interface design. Encourage your students to take their raw, interim paper prototypes and put them in front of people. Does the arrangement of content make sense? What would those people expect if they were to click on one of the items on the page? Do the words on each sticky note make sense to them? The lower the delity in a user interface design, the more a designer can focus on meeting your users expectations regarding content arrangement. This is information students may not be able to glean as

quickly if they expended the time and energy to fully execute every interface concept that came to mind.

Reduce, Reuse, Redecorate

The Goal  Design a piece of furniture out of bulk recyclable materials  Show how the piece would be sold online The True Goal  Start discussions about waste and sustainability in design with clients  Educate ourselves about reusability strategies, as most of us are already familiar with strategies for reducing resource impact at the start of a project When To Use It  Students with little practical experience in sustainability  Designers accustomed to producing interfaces, where concerns about disposability and reuse may be minimized Further Thoughts The actual output of this challenge is less important than your students understanding that there is a real physical cost to producing material for clients. A simple red-and-white swirling holiday design on a paper cup for a powerful client can introduce thousands of pounds of waste in a very short time, depending upon the scope of the project. How do you measure the impact of the cups manufacture, usage, and disposal, and more importantly, can you take some measure of responsibility for it? While we may not be able to convince our clients to hold off on sending a million pieces of direct marketing through the mail, as opposed to only announcing their big annual sale on their Web site, we can encourage them to use recycled or reclaimed materials in production. We can educate them about reusability strategies for their particular product. We can


Teaching the Challenges: Materiality

Some clients will never consider (or even be aware of) alternatives until we suggest them. Sustainability efforts are most effective when they are part of the overall design strategy, rather than treated as an afterthought.
start the conversation and be informed about the available options. Some clients will never consider (or even be aware of) alternatives until we suggest them. Sustainability efforts are most effective when they are part of the overall design strategy, rather than treated as an afterthought. might call craft-only tools, which do not lend themselves to the individual artist looking to quickly massproduce a design idea in a cost-effective manner. Can you imagine making 10,000 business cards out of needle, thread, and cloth? This challenge will help designers understand the time cost that comes from wanting to place individual ourishes onto items that are mass producedeither for efciency of production, to minimize overall cost, or to achieve effects that cant be made easily in the home, like embossing and debossing. Such treatments often help a design idea transcend the ordinary and truly stand out for a client, but every designer must be aware of the cost of each ourish, both in person-hours, hard costs, and corners that cant be cut without degrading the original idea into a ghost of its former glory. After all, who wants a sublime design idea to unravel before their very eyes because of a detail that the client didnt want to pay for?

Printed and Sewn

The Goal  Craft an identity system that incorporates sewn elements  Extend that motif into a Web-based system The True Goal D  etermine how to incorporate individual ourishes into an identity system  Think about the small ways that our style permeates our work When To Use It Students who would like craftier projects  Designers feeling as though most of their projects cant be inuenced by their personal style Further Thoughts There are standard tools we reach for that are part of our artists arsenal: pencil, eraser, pen, whiteboard, paintbrush, and so forth. Then, there are what we

Record Store Puppet Theatre

The Goal  Develop a 30-second commercial shot in one take with no effectswith puppets! Design an in-store event with the puppets

Teaching the Challenges: Materiality


The True Goal S  tart building a framework for video prototyping  Work within the frame, and learn about how to actualize what you are pre-visualizing in your mind When To Use It S  tudents without extensive lm production experience  Designers lacking the eye to develop high quality executions the rst time out Further Thoughts Many a photography instructor laments the digital age. Computer programs give us the ability to do nearly anything with our images, but we lose a lot of discipline in the initial stages of creation when we can x it in post. We sacrice quality for the bells and whistles of the nishing touches. We can also lose the ability to see whats in front of us, because were always looking to the future. Imagine how powerful our photographs, layouts, and logos would be if we stopped thinking about xing our mistakes after the fact. How much more effective would our ideas be if they were already there in what we captured, if they wereusing trendy slangreal and authentic? In raw video, especially how its handled in this challenge, students cant hide a awed concept. Impromptu video exchanges like this reveal the holes in any raw ideas, because without the shine of postproduction, students are forced to process exactly what they see during lming. They may think theyre making the puppets talk while on camera, but the truth is the opposite once they start to watch whats been recorded.


Teaching the Challenges: Materiality

Teaching the Challenges: Instruction

Robot Army Mail-Order Kit
The Goal  Design a robot that can be assembled in 10 minutes with instructions  Extend that design into a robot that can be personalized The True Goal W  ork within time constraints and learn to appreciate skilled and unskilled approaches to those constraints Determine  instructions for what you create for others to followand how to write them When To Use It  Designers who have just left school or are new to an agency setting  Older and more experienced students ready to improve mentoring skills Further Thoughts Designers dont often get to order people around, at least not at the beginning of their careers. Were always someones lackey. On the one hand, this is a good thing. In those rst few years, were unlearning a lot of bad habits from school. Almost every situation is a process or feature of an application that is new to us. Were being instructed all the time. On the other hand, when anyone and everyone is telling us what to do, we can lose sight of exactly what goes into effective teaching and instruction. We also might not have time to explain our work in the same way that we did at college. In this challenge, students have to gure out exactly how to tell someone what to do within a very short time period. Instructions must be precise and effective; dont allow them to provide any extra screws in this project. There should be no waste in the process that each student denes.

Poster by Numbers
The Goal Design a set of instructions to make a poster  Provide feedback to your designer based on the product The True Goal  Learn to balance control and direction in design when dealing with other people  Teaching students how to consider the creation of a creative brief When To Use It  Students who have never supervised another designer  Students who have supervised other designers, but that are uncomfortable with the process

Teaching the Challenges: Instruction


Further Thoughts This challenge is less about creating more robots (a l the previous challenge) and more about control and art direction. In effect, this challenge is about constructing a creative brief. Within a short period of time, students will need to determine not only the instructions for assembling a poster, but also how to negotiate the aspects of those instructions that they cant (or dont want to) control. Are they really going to specify where each line of copy will go by using measurements in millimeters? Or is their approach more freeform, which can also be a mineeld if their instructions involve too many elements and not enough direction? If you have a little more time, you can have each student create their poster and then write the instructions from it. Have them withhold their own poster until another student has nished following their directions. Then, have them analyze the differences to see where they are comfortable in giving up control, and where their instructions may need to be nessed.

than making pasta. As soon as you give in to students complaining about how pasta is too simple, youll invite all sorts of trouble into this challenge. A student who cant manage to construct a visual narrative around a simple task has no business asking for something more difcult. This is about observation, not execution, and we dont know how anyone can be too good at observing behavior. As designers, we cant try to change a process unless we understand it. We need to know it inside and out, and there are relatively few that we can simply imagine in our heads. We have to see it and watch how things play out. Simple tasks like pasta preparation are straightforward, but they still incorporate the individual style and air of the user. If we miss these details, assuming that its just a simple task, we miss most of the opportunities for improving an experience. Further on that last pointthis is also a good experience for students to talk about cultural xations on improvement. If were constantly looking to improve something, how will we ever appreciate what we have when it really is perfect? This isnt about allowing mistakes; its about understanding the essential nature of certain ways that we work as humans. There are things about who we are and how we function that dont need to be xed.

Seeing What Sticks

The Goal  Execute a one-page visual that explains how you make pasta  Use that visual to improve one or more steps in your process The True Goal Learning  to observe before adjusting behavior  Understanding process before attempting to improve it When To Use It  Students who are quick to critique work  Designers who need more observation-based experience Further Thoughts Whatever you do, dont make this more complicated

Check Me Out
The Goal  Improve the checkout experience at a local grocery store by developing a user ow  Ask test subjects to interact with your ideas through prototyping The True Goal  Learn to incorporate and explain signicant variables within a user ow  Wield observational methods in a bustling live setting When To Use It  Students beginning work in user experience and ready to move into the eld of design research


Teaching the Challenges: Instruction

 Around discussions about outliers and unpredictability in designhow many people do we have to compensate for in what we create? Further Thoughts This challenge is a direct application of the lessons learned from Seeing What Sticks, the previous challenge. This is a complex interactive system, and it will have to be observed in the wild. While the student is still the subject, shell have a lot more exposure to random elements, including other customers, varied goods, and multiple technologies. This is a great opportunity for students to compare user ows to begin to grasp just how different people are when it comes to how they fulll complicated tasks. Everyones user ow will have some similarities though, and thats how students should approach the problem. By casting a wide net over the system, they will have to let some eccentric users escape, but their improvements will have a greater impact. Talk to students about how they can take all of their user ows and synthesize them into a single ow that accommodates all of the major observed behaviors. And dont let your students move on to this challenge unless theyve made signicant progress with their pasta. Its never smart to go shopping on an empty stomach.

The Sustainability Game

The Goal  Create a simple game for children about sustainability  Think about distribution strategies that are also sustainable The True Goal  Think about game design as system design  Understanding the exponential relationship of adding variables to a complex system When To Use It  Designers with a propensity for overdeveloped systems or designs  In discussions around simplicity and efcacy Further Thoughts You could easily make this challenge all about the content. How do you explain sustainability to a child? How do you get an audience excited about a topic over which they have little to no control? How do you make something simple yet effective? Its this last question thats really the focus of this challenge. Designing a game is very systematic. There are a number of paths a player can take and a certain number of obstacles that they will encounter along the way. What we often forget is that each additional variable or feature that we include has major repercussions. For each element we add to our game, we add another layer of exponential complexity to the system. Each token or card needs an explanation and each one can move the game in a different direction, even when the end goal doesnt change. The challenge for students will be to design a system that represents a multi-faceted idea. The system will have to balance between glossing over content when appropriate and not confusing the user with too much detail.

Designing a game is systematic. There are a number of paths a player can take and a certain number of obstacles that they will encounter along the way. What we often forget is that each additional variable or feature that we include has major repercussions.

Teaching the Challenges: Instruction


Teaching the Challenges: Observation

Patience, Grasshopper
The Goal  Design a greeting card  Create a series of cards or other printed sentiments The True Goal T  each in-depth observation skills  Focus on how observed moments can become insights When To Use It  If students arent paying close attention to important details  As an introduction to design research techniques Further Thoughts Designers like to make things. They walk around with sketchbooks, mechanical pencils, mobile phones, and other tools that help them capture the details that surround them. These tools become extensions of how we make sense of the world: through words, sketches, photos, and other artifacts. By tearing these tools out of the designers hands, and forcing them to make sense of the world without recording their thoughts in a tangible form, they must become aware of what they are thinking and feeling. We hope that this challenge will help them nd a greater capacity to consider potentially conicting and divergent observations. So, in a sense, this challenge will help make your students more sensitive and empathetic. Theyll be primed to suspend judgment and make associative leaps from data wherever they are, even when they arent designing.

Tour de Home
The Goal Create signage for your neighborhood  Design walking tour materials The True Goal  Improve in-depth observation skills  Construct effective waynding systems that represent more subtle landscapes When To Use It  Students interested in map design and informatics  In a class where important details are consistently overlooked by the students Further Thoughts How many trees are across the street from your front door? You see them every day, so you should know, right? You probably dont because you might be on autopilot, desensitized to the surroundings that you see most frequently. Yes, you are paying attention; its more likely that youve got more important things on your


Teaching the Challenges: Observation

mind. If youre focusing on tuning in a Pandora station or chatting with your friend about tonights dinner plans, you dont really need to count the trees. They just arent a priority. This challenge forces students to observe things theyre already familiar with in their neighborhood, with a fresh perspective. It makes them learn how to other themselves, seeing how the people in their community value the things around them. That coffee shop may have better coffee, but that other shop is closer to the dog park. Students will have to observe not only the surroundings they see every day, but also how their neighbors prioritize those spaces. Encourage students to ex their poetic muscles with their signage. Every neighborhood has a great restaurant and a quirky jeweler. But not every street hides a beautiful bench overwhelmed with ivythe best place in the city to watch re-engine red leaves wavering in the autumn wind. Its these hidden gems that make a place worth visiting.

In a few short minutes, your students could produce absurd sketches of all sorts of off-the-wall vending machine ideas. Or, with some initial research and planning, they could generate truly innovative concepts that facilitate anything from providing food to homeless people to offering them customized automatic MP3 downloads to their iPads. You could even have students tackle the mechanical and industrial engineering necessary to build their ideas out. Either way, the overall premise is wacky enough that students wont take it too seriouslywhich makes it a great way to introduce the core skills necessary for the larger interaction and industrial design challenges theyll be working on later in the book.

Excuse Me, Im Lost

The Goal

Wacky Vendo
The Goal Make a vending machine  Show it in the context of a photograph The True Goal Learn  to design for interaction and how self-contained products may inuence ow in a public space  Explore basic principles of industrial design in action When To Use It Students  wanting to explore the interplay between industrial and interaction design  As a lighter moment between more difcult challenges Further Thoughts This challenge can be as deep or as shallow as you need it to be.

Redesign local hospital signage  Create a complete waynding system The True Goal Begin to empathize with a target audience  Translate observed customer problems into design improvements When To Use It  Any time there is a question about whether design problems can be solved in the mind without direct observation; by now, your students should know this is a trick question  Designers interested in waynding and information design Further Thoughts An improvement in nding the emergency room can save lives. For students concerned about making a difference with their work, this challenge is a great start. But alongside manipulating motivation, make sure that your students stay grounded in the practicalities of this assignment. Efcient ow through a public space is the result of many factors; signage

Teaching the Challenges: Observation


immediately springs to mind, but what about the language of those signs, or things like lighting, arrows, furniture, and paint? If you have extra time, consider splitting your class into two teams. Give half of your class photos of specic problem areas at a local hospital and ask them to redesign it with no other information. Send the other team directly to the hospital to observe the same area for an hour or two before attempting a redesign. Then, have each half of the class present. Let them discuss if there are any perceived differences in the output.

When To Use It  Designers who are beginning to work with diary studies or more personal research methods  Students transitioning from school or from freelance to agency commitments Further Thoughts This challenge can work on two different levels. If youve got a group of designers fresh out of school or moving into an agency from the freelance world, have them work on this as a time management lesson. When were in school or working for ourselves, we can stay up until 3:00 am to nish a project. We can generate sketches on weekends and walk the dog during client meetings. In these situations, our work time spreads throughout the days and we lose the ability to track when were actually working. It takes a lot of discipline to prevent this freedom from turning into anarchy. Worst-case scenario? We dont bill properly, we lose money, and we lose sleep. This challenge will help designers understand how theyre whittling away the hours. If your students have been out of the classroom for a while, the time management portion of this assignment may not be as applicable. If this is the case, have them focus more on the personal research portion of the challenge. We often think about design research as the observation and analysis of other peoples behavior, revealing how those behaviors are inuenced by their attitudes, beliefs, needs, and desires. When we have to observe our own behaviors, we tend to lose the ability to pinpoint those same factors. A week-long diary study will help designers gain empathy for their future subjects.

Thinking Outside the Wrist

The Goal Design a wristwatch  Make a prototype and see how it changes behavior The True Goal F  ind unique design opportunities within a wellserved market  Reinforce the concept of effective time management

When were in school or working for ourselves, we can stay up until 3:00 am to finish a project It takes a lot of discipline to prevent this freedom from turning into anarchy.


Teaching the Challenges: Observation

Teaching the Challenges: Innovation

The Goal  Create a new product for the music industry  Make a business plan for it The True Goal I ntroduce the themes of systems thinking  Learn to identify and explain design opportunities to clients When To Use It S  tudents who require too much instruction to get them moving  As an excuse to lecture about design thinking rather than just design doing Further Thoughts This is a tiny big problem. Its tiny because if you just take the problem statement at face value, you could design any number of beautiful, functional executions that consumers would probably buy. Its big because theres a complex set of interrelationships between the actual actors in the system youre working within: the music companies, music publishers, distributors and wholesalers, artists, existing music ecosystems, and on and on. Any student wishing to provide a tiny solution must have a big rationale to explain its viability. If the class gravitates toward bigger solution, each student must have a set of artifacts that explain what their solution would tangibly look like to a music buyer. You can leave it open-ended, and see where your students take it, or you can force them down one of the above paths. Either way, dont let them just press it on 40-gram fuschia vinyl and call it a day. Its not really a solution if it just sits there looking cool.

iPhone Americana
The Goal Create an iPhone app  Extend it to another platform The True Goal  Learn information architecture methods for application design  Provide an emotional heft to an otherwise functional experience within a strong cultural motif When To Use It  Designers who havent learned to objectively represent aspects of different cultures or with groups that are from wildly different backgrounds  Students transitioning into mobile design from other platforms Further Thoughts Interactive products can have a personality. They can dance, breathe, laugh, stretch their arms, and yawn.

Teaching the Challenges: Innovation


They can have a tone of voice, a way of holding your hand as you cross the street, and sometimes even giggle when you tickle them. When designing products that have both a body and a soul, we can dive so deeply into the functional details that we lose sight of what people want to accomplish with our applicationmake it easier to read a novel, or play their favorite songs like a jukebox in an old honky-tonk. We have to balance functionality with delight. Prod your students to describe, when explaining their application ideas, not only what it can do for its user, but also how it will establish an emotional connection. Those explanations should also include a strong analysis of the cultural component of this challenge. We are all products of our upbringing, and mobile applications are moving quickly to become extensions of those relationships. If we cant dene cultural quirks and eccentricities, we certainly cant capture themor eliminate them.

Further Thoughts Which came rst: the compost or the composter? While this challenge may seem like a 100% net positive for any designer solving itmaking things that unmake themselves, contributing to a healthier planet, and all that falderala better approach to solving this challenge may emerge from a more holistic analysis. Have your students look at the entire lifecycle of a product. They should examine its manufacture, purchase, utilization, obsolecence, and potential reuse before it is composted or degrades. What are the tradeoffs for a selected approach? Pros or cons? Is the product using more energy before it hits the shelf than it gains by biodegrading after its use? If your students cant answer these questions, then send them back for deeper digging on these issues. Otherwise, their designs may be feasible, but potentially have a net-negative impact.

Biodegradable Backyard
The Goal  Make backyard products intended to biodegrade  Build a prototype or design a marketing strategy for the product The True Goal A  nalyze the environmental impacts of substrate selection  Reimagine how a product serves a specic set of use cases over time When To Use It S  tudents who believe sustainability is easy, or those that need more experience understanding the environmental impact of product construction and use  Designers who have worked with a limited palette of materials

Interactive products can have a personality They can have a tone of voice, a way of holding your hand as you cross the street, and sometimes even giggle when you tickle them.

More Is Less
The Goal  Redesign the packaging for a durable consumable product  Develop a prototype and observe others using it The True Goal  Change peoples behavior through product presentation


Teaching the Challenges: Innovation

 Analyze the environmental impacts of design choices When To Use It S  tudents having trouble believing they can personally contribute signicant change to the world through their work D  esigners exploring different methods of behavioral change, especially if they are transitioning from a background in sales or marketing Further Thoughts This isnt a challenge about designing snack packs. Building off the lessons from Biodegradable Backyard, students should be able to analyze the supply chain for their product. Now theyll have to apply those same analytic skills to understand how and why people consume their product. This challenge starts with the supply chain and throws in consumer motivation. The students can control the components in a product, but can they inuence how people use that product? If the class isnt taking a systems-thinking approach to their solutions, their ideas will still have an impactbut it wont be the right kind of impact. People will just buy more of less, rather than consume less of less. This is harder than it sounds. But if students do a great job, its likely they will have strong concepts that they could potentially produce.

When To Use It  As a fun in-class break between more difcult challenges  Students struggling with price/aesthetic desirability dynamics within product design Further Thoughts Really, you can look too good. When designing an annual report for a nonprot, you dont want it to look like they have no need for money. And while a celebrity can wear a thousand dollar skirt with a no-name tank top, if youre selling a $200 bottle of wine to the masses, it had better not look like you dragged it from the back aisle of a convenience store. Students solving this challenge will need to determine how the nuances of their design, from typeface to illustration style to materials used, speak to its value. Describing these key decision points will help them to make a case for why their concept will work on the shelf.

E.V.O.O. to Go
The Goal  Make a container for olive oil  Design an ad for selling the product The True Goal

Veni, Vidi, Vino

The Goal  Create a wine package  Show what it would look like when sold in bulk The True Goal L  earn how aesthetic and material choices convey affordability and luxury  Understand when to apply wit as part of a design solution

 Grapple with unusual materials-based constraints  Place function squarely before form When To Use It  Designers without experience in industrial or packaging design, especially if they are uncomfortable with incorporating science into their work  Those more used to focusing on aesthetics than utility Further Thoughts Olive oil is a viscous substance prone to spoil more quickly than many other oils on the market. It can go rancid quickly, especially if left out at high 57

Teaching the Challenges: Innovation

temperature. It cant be heated over medium-high heat without beginning to smoke. Its avor proles can vary wildly, based on how and where it is produced. Unlike salt, which is stable at a range of temperatures away from water, oil is a nightmare to contain. Dont let your students know that. Even if they read the words above, theyll need to do the appropriate background research to make sure that any proposed solution will reduce post-pour oozing and not taint the avor of the oil over time. This is the true bar theyll need to hit for their product to be successful in market. If youre feeling feisty, ask your students to make a presentation about the science behind the challenge before the class starts sketching. The best framing of the challenge can then be used to evaluate each solution.

As a further complication, it requires the designer to have a functioning knowledge about the practice of yoga: the taxonomy of yoga poses that any such application would draw from; the different types of yoga, and the teaching styles that accompany them; as well as the physical props and rituals that accompany each practitioners efforts. Otherwise, a design solution would be completely off the mark. Figuring out how to pool collective knowledge is useful for any designer. We also recommend limiting your student teams to 30 to 45 minutes to create a rough physical prototype, then have them demonstrate it to the class by acting out how the application would interact with a practitioner over a series of poses. The students would have to draw out the necessary screens or interfaces that would describe each interaction. The real power in this challenge comes from having designers physically move through the space to realize the success (or failure) of their solution. From this point forward in the book, a large portion of the challenges will require this type of active visualization. If students start here, theyll denitely be limber enough for the later work.

The Goal  Create an interactive application that tracks yoga  Design the mat The True Goal Begin  to grapple with gestural and touch affordances  As a way to think about the future of connectivity  Provide practical experience in physically prototyping interactions When To Use It W  hen introducing the notion of interaction models or frameworks  Students or designers who are accustomed to or are more comfortable with solitary work Further Thoughts This challenge embodies the complexity inherent in creating an application that tracks gestural input which is one of the primary futures for any designer interested in pursuing a career in user experience.

I Think, Therefore I Shop

The Goal  Create a store that doesnt sell products  Build a prototype of the store experience The True Goal Wrestle with the concept of what a store really is  Consider how people consume ideas as part of a real world experience When To Use It  As a back-door introduction to social innovation  When explaining the notion of customer touchpoints in the context of retail or environmental design


Teaching the Challenges: Innovation

 Students and designers transitioning from sales-based disciplines, such as advertising or marketing  To directly address any lingering personality issues Further Thoughts This challenge is philosophical in nature, but practical in the desired output from students. It should be conducted in groups, as opposed to individual output the nal product will be richer as a result. As one approach: Simply arrange your students into groups, feed them this challenge, then stand back and let them reach an endpoint before providing any critique. This is a good opportunity for you to assign specic people to teams, especially if there are any continuing issues among students. When designers on a team have to focus on ideas instead of being distracted by a shiny prototype, theyll need to deal with each other as people rather than as a means to produce an end. Theyre exploring how people think, and that includes their teammates. Or, alternatively, if everyone is playing well with others, you can push the work to explore the same themes of cooperation. As the students are moving from their big ideas to executing their tangible store designs, help guide them towards exploring what technologies or unique moments are constructed within the infrastructure of the store experience, rather than just adapting existing technologies that people will bring into the store (i.e. mobile devices or computers). Your students should also be able to justify the cost of investment in the store, and how it will afford staying

open. That will probably the hardest data point for them to generate. But if they cant provide such data to potential investors, than why would they consider any such idea viable?

Ready When You Are

The Goal  Create an application for your coffee needs  Decide how youd promote the new functionality in product marketing The True Goal  Convey the fundamentals of mobile application design  Learn about systems thinkingwith a drug most designers are already invested in When To Use It  Students deeply rooted in visual design that have little experience in dening a controlled set of use cases  Designers needing work with building user ows for application design Further Thoughts When starting to teach application design, it can be tempting to throw the kitchen sink at designers. User ows! Use cases! Functional requirements!

When designing an annual report for a nonprofit, you dont want it to look like they have no need for money if youre selling a $200 bottle of wine to the masses, it had better not look like you dragged it from the back aisle of a convenience store.

Teaching the Challenges: Innovation


Specications! Wireframes! The list could go on and on. This challenge was intended as a way for students to approach the discipline from an alternative direction: via considering the fulllment of a critical everyday task that usually has little connection to a mobile device. By starting with a contained set of use cases and limited functionality, its easier for students to understand the basic components necessary to also generate much larger systems. When David has taught this challenge in class, hes asked the students to role-play utilizing the application, with one person being the voice of the app, while another person pretends to interact with the actual phone, speaking out loud what theyre doing. The rest of the class takes notes, capturing what the screens may look like as they move step-by-step towards their perfect cappucino.

 Learn how to summarize the most important effects of an interactive, service-oriented experience When To Use It  Students with little to no experience with industrial design  Designers with a solid background in ne art who are feeling neglected  When introducing the conceptual notion of architectural form  With a class needing a fresh perspective on what constitutes usability and function Further Thoughts We design things for a reason. We make a car to drive in. We make forks to eat with. On very rare occasions, we design products for a reason that runs counter to their usual purpose. We might craft a chair that no one can sit in, perhaps to make a political statement or as a memorial. But the marketability of a chair that no one can sit in is questionable. This challenge is about particularity. Students are designing a single object for a very specic task, and its an object that is expected to have multiple uses. Realistically, we dont really think about usability with dishes. Its a dish. Thats just what it does. Getting the class to explore how function informs design in this context will require them to look at how they feel about individuality, ritual, even sustainability. If students can grasp how to think purposefully about the specic uses of a product, theres nothing stopping them from applying those principles to the larger world. Single purpose inventions like the Hippo Water Roller and the Embrace Infant Warmer are only a few steps away from Tithi Kutchamuchs cups in the book.

On very rare occasions, we design products for a reason that runs counter to their usual purpose. We might craft a chair that no one can sit in But the marketability of a chair that no one can sit in is questionable.

Lets Dish
The Goal  Design a dish  Determine how to brand the dish for release to market The True Goal E  xperience how to sketch and prototype atypical shape languagesi.e. families of physical objects that work together and feel like a family

Listen Up, Write It Off

The Goal  Design a bus shelter ad  Create a radio spot


Teaching the Challenges: Innovation

The True Goal T  hink through the requirements for an interactive product  Learn how to summarize the most important effects of an interactive, service-oriented experience When To Use It  To push students focused on communication design into thinking about what elements truly comprise the products and services they describe in marketing vehicles  Designers still struggling with the making a difference part of their jobs Further Thoughts Students may consider it critical to fully explore how their volunteer bank would work before they can design the bus shelter. Others may immediately brainstorm concepts for the bank via the medium of advertising. While both are valid approaches, we advocate that students work through the logistics and user experience of the actual online experience before crafting their adspending 60 minutes of the 90-minute time period on that task alone. This will provide them with a greater depth of understanding for not only the ad, but also the holistic reason why people would want to take part in utilizing such a service. And isnt that what a designer would want to understand before crafting a solution?

Teaching the Challenges: Innovation


Teaching the Challenges: Interpretation

Id Buy That for a Dollar
The Goal  Create a new dollar store chain  Design packaging for what it sells The True Goal U  nderstand the implications for having holistic control over a whole retail experience  Consider sustainability impacts for an entire business When To Use It A  s a major class project, bridging product and service design disciplines  With more cause-oriented students, to help them explode notions of how design impacts capitalism and consumption Further Thoughts This challenge has plenty of space for interpretation, both on the part of the student and the teacher. Depending on how the students approach the challenge, they could design the outside of the store, the interior oor plan, the suite of products theyd want to offer, the online experience for the storepractically any combination of details to comprise a nal output. Be sure to ask students to dene at the end of their ideation phase what materials would be required to create a well-rounded solution. Students should be very clear about what depth of sustainability thinking The Goal Create a window display for a store  Plan the space for the whole store, including your display The True Goal  Understand what gives great store displays their stopping power  Provide designers a taste of the visual merchandising, interior design, and architecture disciplines When To Use It  To convey the elements of planning a store space in a fun manner  With designers who have not had a lot of experience with product or window displays, or that are looking to move from point-of-purchase displays to something larger  As a breather between harder challenges theyve undergone alongside the development of their design ideas. Of course, they have to make those principles work with their strategy for how the business will make money, even if students desire to twist or subvert notions of consumption. When presenting to the class, these rationales can be explicitly called out and debated.

Whats in Store?


Teaching the Challenges: Interpretation

Further Thoughts Like some design work in the domain of fashion, this challenge is intentionally shallow and eeting. But if anyone challenges you on whether or not window displays qualify as design, we highly recommend Simon Doonans Confessions of a Window Dresser to tip the scales in your favor.

of a nal solution. Otherwise, the student work may be well-designed, but not catering to (or creating) desire on the part of their audience. As a shout-out: the design professor Jill Vartenigian suggested the basis of this challenge when she cotaught a Creative Workshop class with us.

Out of Gamut Urban Diapers

The Goal The Goal Create diaper packaging  Think about how to tie marketability to the packaging The True Goal Understand  what it means to craft a brand that zags against an established product category L  earn the essential components of product and packaging design When To Use It To  help students learn how to approach the process of crafting an identity system D  esigners who need more work in developing archetypes or understanding demographics Further Thoughts Whenever a client says, I want an idea that rises above all that other crap in the market, they may not be asking for the output of this challenge. However, the whole premise of Urban Diapers is that if youre going to be cleaning up after all sorts of crap, you might as well do it with a punk-rock smile on your face. Capturing the lifestyle and attitude of a dened audience is the major focus for any designer tackling this challenge. Dont be afraid to task your students with additional deliverables, such as mood boards, documented conversations with new parents, an audit of existing packaging and advertising from competitors, and any other data that may help to steer the approach Design an identity for a nonprot association  Create a color study The True Goal  Consider color interaction beyond just making things look nice  Learn about colors that may provide trouble for the colorblind  Incorporate accessibility into common design work When To Use It  To help students learn how to approach the process of crafting an identity system  Designers who are lacking experience in accessibility design  As an introduction to researching color interaction as a part of accessibility considerations Further Thoughts While this may seem on the surface like an improbable design scenario, the reality is that a percentage of the people who look at or use every one of your designs will be colorblind. This audience is everywhere and nowhere, rarely vocal unless they observe a major faux pas that could cause great harm. (We cant imagine what would happen if we did a switcheroo on color position inside trafc lights.) In short, accessibility considerations in design are as pressing as they are prevalent, even when they arent immediately apparent.

Teaching the Challenges: Interpretation


Your students will need to do two types of research. They will need to understand the various types of colorblindness, and they will need to validate their work via third-party online tools, gauging its effectiveness. Push your students to justify their decisions when they present in class. Make them render versions of their work as those who are colorblind would see them. Group the whole classes work on the board by colorblindness type before judging which solutions work best. Or, if you have the ability, bring in a special guesta colorblind personto have him or her comment on the classs work. Such input would be invaluable.

As you ease your students into the beginning of a new decade, be prepared for them to explode with ideas. What will need to ground their ideas, however, is a clear rationale around their execution that explains why their exhibit relates to a ve-year vision of the futurenot two or three or seven or more. There must be some unique attribute in the exhibit, whether technological or social in nature, that clearly maps to where our society will be in that possible future. The specicity of the timeframe is precisely the kind of detail that makes a beautiful solution to this challenge easy enough to produce, but hard to conceptually defend in a rigorous critique.

The Goal Create an art exhibit  Determine what it would cost to produce the exhibit The True Goal Discern  the ne line between art and design in client assignments  Take a trend and project its future effects via design artifacts  When done in teams, brush up on and solidify brainstorming techniques When To Use It  When students are struggling to dream big  Around conversations about durability in design Further Thoughts Every designer spends time thinking about the future. For some students, the future is big, bright, shiny, retro: kind of like the Jetsons. For others, its steampunk. And lets not forget the coming apocalypse of 2012, followed by a new Ice Age. Somewhere along the way, we might encounter Tron. Every project we fulll is about the futurethe time horizon is the only variable that consistently changes.

Don Norman says, Designers fall prey to the two ailments of not knowing what they dont know and, worse, thinking they know things they dont.

This Is For Your Health

The Goal Draw three illustrations in a specic style  Develop spreads to connect layout to the illustration style The True Goal  Create hand-crafted illustrations within a specied art direction  Think editorially about how illustration connects to written content When To Use It  Designers who are fresh out of school or who have been freelancing for a long period of time, as this challenge will help them learn how to


Teaching the Challenges: Interpretation

interface with creative directors, art directors, editors, and writers  Students with a very narrow illustrative style Further Thoughts Learning to work under editorial direction takes practice. Its not something youre born withit takes assignment after assignment to learn to read the mind of your editor, as its unlikely theyll give you more input than what is included in this challenge description. Though this isnt a real assignment for a publication, pretend youre an editor when you deliver it to your students. When they start asking you for input and direction, let them know youre too busy to respond, and that youre looking forward to their work. If youre teaching this as an in-class assignment, consider providing them new inputs or constraints halfway through the time period.

continent is a protected eco-zone, with little precipitation year over year. For your students to understand the trade-offs inherent in bottling water from this continent, they will need to dig into a wide range of research sources. As a result, they will become more educated about both the protected resources and the systems that have been created worldwide to try and deliver potable water to an ever-increasing population. You may need to clarify that they will need to research both subjects to provide a well-reasoned solution to this challenge. While few students have argued in my classes for bottling water from Antarctica, some companies do exist that are working to extract water near Antarctica. This is an ethical grey area that may make for heated class discussion (no pun intended).

Free Tibet Blog

The Goal Create an ofcial blog for a celebrity  Adjust your design for localization worldwide

Paper, Plastic, Glass, Vapor

The Goal Create a brand position for bottled water  Craft a vision document for venture funding The True Goal Learn  to force consideration of sustainability issues in advance of agreeing to a design problem  Develop an opinion and take a stand when a project opens itself to personal vision When To Use It With  a group that is ecologically minded  When students are struggling to deliver articulate rationales around their design concepts Further Thoughts Outside of March of the Penguins, few people expend much energy thinking about life on Antarctica. This

The True Goal  Create hand-crafted illustrations within a specied art direction  Understand how deeply an interactive experience can reect the spirit of a person through history When To Use It  Demonstrating that designing seemingly small things can require great attention to detail and a sophisticated underlying rationale  As a good introduction to localization concerns Further Thoughts This challenge can seem like a lark. Students may be tempted to treat it as merely a fun aesthetic problem to solve. But what would those same students do if they were seated before the Dalai Lama, and such a personage of renown were outlining for them the overall ethos and import of the venture they were about to undertake?

Teaching the Challenges: Interpretation


For students to generate deep and meaningful solutions, they will have to take this challenge seriously. Consider having another teacher play a representative of the Dalai Lama when the class presents their solutions, to ensure that they will not describe what they designed, but why they designed it in that fashion and how it relates to the heritage of Tibetan Buddhism.

Essentially, no matter which path your students choose, within two hours its unlikely theyll feel good about what they create. This is one of the hardest lessons that any product designer can learn: without the appropriate research and validation, any well-intended solution can be a poor t for the needs of a poorly understood audience.

Blinded by the Light

The Goal Help visually impaired people track sun exposure  See if your solution would work for people with other disabilities The True Goal  Learn what types of research are appropriate to frame an approach for a design solution  Discern how to design for populations with radically different limitations on how they might use a particular product or service When To Use It  As an entry point into designing for those with disabilities  If a class has trouble grappling with abstract problems Further Thoughts Don Norman says, Designers fall prey to the two ailments of not knowing what they dont know and, worse, thinking they know things they dont. Students struggle with this challenge for this very reason. If you dont let them talk with visually impaired people as part of their research, they have trouble justifying their solutions. If you do let them talk with visually impaired people, they have very little time to formulate the right kinds of questions to ask them or to observe what their needs might be. This may not help them deliver the most effective solution.

Touch Screen of Deaf Rock

The Goal Create an exhibit for deaf children Create a physical prototype of the exhibit at size The True Goal  Learn how to envision an interactive experience without the use of all ve senses  Explore a range of approaches for creating artifacts that describe touch and gestural interaction When To Use It  When teaching students about touch and gestural interfaces  To teach the use of role-playing in quickly prototyping interactive experiences Further Thoughts This is one of our favorite challenges in the book. Its a ton of fun for designers to attempt in close collaborationand a fast way for students to learn the follies of designing touch and gestural user interfaces. An interesting spin on this challenge is to design the exhibit for a deaf child and a potentially hearing parent (or friends). The walkthrough would require two or more people interacting with the exhibit simultaneously. We recommend that, as the teacher, you create timeboxes for the students to brainstorm big-picture concepts, a set time period for creating a solution at size, and then serve as a third-party who walks through a


Teaching the Challenges: Interpretation

draft of the space and asks simple, open-ended questions about what details may not make sense. This will help students bounce quickly between making the design and reecting on what elements of the design may not be effective for a deaf child. As a side note, keep a close eye on how the walkthroughs are enacted by the teams. If you dont serve as the third-party reviewer, encourage students to act normally when they go through the exhibit, speaking out loud. Deaf people arent stupid; they can read, intuit interactions, and learn from exhibits just like everyone else. When you design with empathy, you must also design with respect.

 Students needing additional work with collaborative design practices Further Thoughts Trying to manage perfume within a public space, with potentially thousands of visitors seeking to sample those scents, could be a nightmare scenario. From managing olfactory fatigue on the part of exhibit visitors to constructing airtight spaces (or other novel solutions that weve seen to this challenge), your students will have lots of thinking to do. But before you provide the challenge to them, youll need to decide: Can a solution be magic, not constrained by the laws of chemistry and physics? Or must your students do the appropriate research to back up their solutions with a rationale around the feasibility and costs of implementation? Depending on which path you choose, the type of effort your students will put into the challenge may vary. We recommend having them do some bigpicture brainstorming, then researching which of their range of ideas may be most feasible, then moving from there. Its always easier to t a really big idea into a smaller box than to take a tiny idea and try to inate it. In the case of the latter, itll usually go pop!

Its always easier to fit a really big idea into a smaller box than to take a tiny idea and try to inflate it. In the case of the latter, itll usually go pop!

Sniff Test
The Goal Create an exhibit that contains scents  Design the materials required to market the exhibit The True Goal  Design for the sense of smellwhich is rarely considered by designers  Learn to work within unusual physical constraints When To Use It  Around lessons that demonstrate various methods of designing for environments

Can You Hear Me Now?

The Goal Storyboard a TV spot Translate your idea into other media The True Goal  Explore in TV and video how sound is closely intertwined with image  Gain empathy regarding communication design for the disabled When To Use It  Students with a rm grasp of advertising design that need to be pushed outside of their comfort zone

Teaching the Challenges: Interpretation


 When teaching how to design for the disabled Further Thoughts We take sound for granted. We dont realize how integral it is to most experiences of the world. That is, until it isnt there. An effective execution for this challenge will essentially be a moving print ad. You might want to consider having your students act out their ads, sans voiceover. Otherwise, theyre just going to describe out loud what happens in each panel of their storyboard, and that might get in the way of fully expressing what theyre trying to communicate conceptually with their spot. Consider lming each performance, so the students can compare their ideas after class. Then, show the lms to people who are not aware of the challenge or the constraints. Do the ads communicate the ideas that the students intended?

Manage a high volume of detail in an illustration When To Use It  When teaching best practices for waynding and map-making  Students who a bit too obsessed with Edward Tufte Further Thoughts Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map. Not just any Google Map with the appropriate pins and turn-byturn directions. Moving from Point A to Point B is just one use of the map, and weve become addicted to our phones, GPS devices, and other tools that we use for traveling to all sorts of places. But there are situations where using those mapping systems become a bit ineffective: inside buildings, within out-of-the-way districts, and when attempting to understand the various neighborhoods and suburbs of a downtown core. Students may feel like theyre beholden to cram as much as they can into their mapsand they should resist this impulse. Less detail allows more nesse in how a viewer of such a map understands the high-level relationships between roads, rivers, bodies of water, and critical landmarks. If youre feeling spry, cover the city and task each of your students with a neighborhood to render. Then, piece all of the maps together like a patchwork quilt, demonstrating to your students how many different approaches there may be to rendering a simplied view of a complex world.

Bending Geography
The Goal Create a simplied map Abstract your map until it becomes decorative art The True Goal U  nderstand how good information design can require nessing factual detail

You want me to create something for myself, that Ill benefit from? Yes, thats right: design can be a self-affirming, rewarding act thats solely for your benefit.


Teaching the Challenges: Interpretation

What Do I Know?
The Goal Make Twitter and Wikipedia have a baby  Create the user interface for what experience you think should be made The True Goal W  ork collaboratively to frame a highly complex problem in a group  Learn to identify when a provided problem is wickedly complex When To Use It A  s a nal in-class unsolvable problem  For students who consistently overestimate their skills Further Thoughts In Star Trek lore, there is a denitive test that Stareet Academy students need to take in order to graduate. In this test, each person is role-playing as the captain of a Stareet vessel, attempting to rescue a stalled-out ship called the Kobiyashi Maru. While each student initially thinks they can carry out a rescue mission to save the people on the stranded vessel, they quickly discover that its a no-win scenario, as the vessel is in the Klingon Neutral Zone. No matter what they do during the scenario, either their vessel or the Kobiyashi Maru is destroyed. The test, as Captain Kirk so impishly avoided by hacking the test computers code, is not about winning. Its about how students think about the problem and about grace in the face of powerlessness. Its about what it really means to be a leader. What Kirk did was engineer the problem in such a way as to allow success, which served as a testament to his understanding of leadership. Thats what your students should apply to this challenge. Place your students in groups and have them attempt this challenge. On its surface, the problem statement for this challenge is too broad to solve within the

time limit. This is intentional. Your students will need to agree upon what problem they need to solve before they can provide a solution at the end of their time limit. If they dont, there is no way to win.

Well, In My Book
The Goal Design a book of personal wisdom Reconsider what form the book should take The True Goal  Learn how to be your own client  Understand how to create space for reection When To Use It  As a nal take-home exercise for a Creative Workshop class  For students who need a break from client work Further Thoughts This challenge is a reward for every students hard effort. It will force them to allocate time and space for reecting upon who they are and what theyve accomplishedwith a tangible output that they can return to again and again. This challenge should feel like an antidote to the self-sacrice and service orientation that is imprinted strongly upon designers of every skill level. You want me to create something for myself, that Ill benet from? Yes, thats right: design can be a self-afrming, rewarding act thats solely for your benet. If you fear that the subject matter may be too broad for your class, consider this variant: have your class generate books that highlight what theyd learned over the course of the class. They can be illustrated with a select number of the challenge executions. Regardless of your approach, this should feel less like a portfolio, and more like a manifesto.

Teaching the Challenges: Interpretation



Exercise #


David Sherwin is an interaction designer and art director with a depth of expertise in developing compelling creative solutions for challenging business problems. He is currently a Senior Interaction Designer at frog design, a global innovation rm, where he helps to guide the research, strategy, and design of novel products and services for some of todays leading companies. David is author of the books Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills and the forthcoming Design Business from A to Z (2012). Both are published by HOW Design Press. David is an active speaker and teacher, and his writing has appeared in A List Apart, Design Mind,, Imprint, and other periodicals. In his free time, he maintains the blog ChangeOrder: Business + Process of Design at

Mary Paynter Sherwin is a poet, writer, editor, and teacher of public speaking. Her poetry has been published by Richard Hugo House, Midway Journal, and Drash: Northwest Mosaic. She was recently included in an online anthology on, where she was named one of the Pacic Northwests Most Innovative Poets. Mary holds a degree in Commercial Photography from Art Institute of Seattle, a certicate in Editing from University of Washington, and is about to complete a Liberal Arts degree in writing at Evergreen State College.

About the Authors


For University Bookstore sales, contact F&W Media at 1-800-289-0963. My Design Shop: Amazon: The rst 24 pages are available free on Scribd:


Exercise #