Prototypes as Inquiry, Visualization and Communication

Year: 2011
Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Gill, Carolina; Sanders, Elizabeth; Shim, Scott
Series: E&PDE
Section: Design Teaching Environment 2
Page(s): 672-677


Before engineers and designers can become comfortable with the idea of building conceptual prototypes, they need to understand that prototyping is a valid method for not only for evaluation but also for exploration of concepts. This understanding depends on a deeper recognition that not all questions regarding a real product or system are amenable to mathematical analysis or simulation: there exist questions, often of a qualitative nature, that are necessary to answer even though they cannot be expressed analytically. “Prototypes as a mean of formal evaluation are a relatively small part of the entire design process. Prototypes are the means in which designers organically and evolutionarily learn, discover, generate and refine designs. They are design-thinking enablers deeply embedded and immersed in design practice and not just tools for evaluating or proving successes or failures of design outcomes”. [1]

Furthermore, as designers’ participation in the fuzzy front end of the development process increases, the definition of prototype and the activity of prototyping evolve. What is a prototype of a service? What are the materials needed to build prototypes for future experiences? How do you prototype behavioral change or transformation?

Keywords: Prototype for exploration, prototypes for evaluation, visualization, design process


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