Bridging the gap between exploration and inspiration. E-xplore enables designers to involve the digital world in their exploration process without limiting creativity.
In my final bachelor semester at Industrial Design I did a project in the squad “Design for Creatives” (DfC). After an extensive exploration phase I decided to focus on Designers working together regularly in close proximity; co-located design in short.
The title of this project is E-xplore and it was made for and in the Concept Lab, a living lab of the modern design studio under construction in the Industrial Design department. Even though the client for this project is Concept Lab, the project is optimized to create possibilities and inspiration for any designer, while continuing to work in their own individually preferred way.
E-xplore is a system based on the notion that designers are visual thinkers, but barely have access to visual inspiration while invested in a brainstorm The E-xplore platform allows creatives to interact with the internet as if it’s a team member by digitally augmenting their brainstorm method. The system surprises and challenges users in the earliest stages of conceptualizing. The system remembers which images evoked a reaction, to eventually present the user with an overview of their creative process.
E-xplore is made for co-located designers and functions as follows. Designers choose their preferred method and, when working on a physical surface such as paper or a whiteboard, simply point a video projector onto their work surface and then run the E-xplore program. When working on a digital medium, such as a tablet or smartboard the system only has to be started up right on the medium itself.
The creatives choose a point in their brainstorm where it makes sense to receive extra inspiration with their drawings and writing. Immediately the system presents them with a number of related images to where the exploration currently is and places them in between the current sketches and ideas of the designers. Users can choose to dismiss or elaborate on these images to receive images better tailored to them, while the system keeps track of their process, allowing designers to go back and chance their mind any time. It also allows users to see in real time where the process of an idea is taking them, avoiding miscommunication by two designers being unable to communicate a undeveloped concept.
When users are satisfied with the brainstorm they can tell the system to wrap up, after which E-xplore leaves the designers with an overview of inspiration users have approved and shown interest in. The designers can look back onto this moodboard any time and see how they arrived at a specific idea, what path they took and possible alternatives they might still like to explore at a later time.
By giving designers a way to connect with a source of inspiration within a brainstorm this project aims to enrich the ideation and conceptualization process of creatives, while also showing the extend of current development around an explored idea. Seeing inspiration and sometimes surprising alternatives can help users let go of their initial ideas about a subject. It can also help them communicate with other designers by taking the system into a specific direction. This promotes a truly free and unencumbered ideation, exploration, conceptualization or idea development in general.