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Creative Design

HCID 252
Bldg 640
Room E 213


Lora Oehlberg

Post-Doctoral Researcher, in|situ lab, INRIA


Session 1 : Sketching, Mindmapping, Design Journals
Thursday, January 10


"Mind Mapping", Rolf Faste Foundation
Sketching & Cartooning, Lora Oehlberg
"Sketching in 2-point perspective", Lora Oehlberg

Due in-class: Design Journal Mindmap

Session 2 : Portfolios & Improvisation
Thursday, January 17

Resources on Portfolios:

Reading on Improvisation:

"Use of Improvisational Drama Exercises in Design Education", Rolf Faste Foundation
"Using improvisation to enhance the effectiveness of brainstorming", Elizabeth Gerber. CHI 2009.
"Improvisation principles and techniques for design", Elizabeth Gerber. CHI 2007.
Improv Encyclopedia

Due in Class: Week 1 Reflection, Improv Glossary Presentation, Improv Exercise Introduction

Session 3 : Brainstorming & Critique
Thursday, January 24

"Design and Other Types of Fixation", A. Terry Purcell & John Gero. Design Studies, October 1996.
"Metrics for measuring ideation effectiveness", Jami Shah, Steve Smith, Noe Vargas-Hernandez. Design Studies, March 2003.
"Brainsketching and how it differs from brainstorming", Remko Van Der Lugt. Creativity and Innovation Management, March 2002.
"How do you design?", Hugh Dubberly
"The Creative Personality", Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"How to write an effective design brief", Clear Design "Writing a Design Brief", UK Design Council

Due in Class: Week 2 Reflection, Brainstorming prompts

Session 4: Graphic Design & Midterm "Show and Tell"
Thursday, January 31

"Thinking with Type", Ellen Lupton
"The Elements of Typographic Style"
"Kern Type", "Shape Type", "Color", Typographic games for Interaction Designers

Session 5 : Graphic Design II & Physical Prototyping

Thursday, January 7

Session 6 : Guest Lecturer – Nicolas Gaudron
''Tuesday, February 12 (SPECIAL PLACE LRI/PCRI room 455)

Session 7 : Guest Lecturer – Nicolas Gaudron
week of February 18 (SPECIAL TIME 9 a.m. - 11 a.m., SPECIAL PLACE LRI/PCRI room 445)

Session 8 : Final Presentations
Thursday, February 28 (SPECIAL PLACE, LRI/PCRI room 445)

Request List: What do you hope to learn in this course?

from questionnaire on first week of class

  • Collaboration & Creativity (3): "benefit from others' ideas", "push my (and my team's) creativity to the maximum possible", "how to exchange views with others"
  • Beauty (2): "How to do beautiful stuff", "How to make beautiful and original designs"
  • Creativity Theory & Research (2): "State of Research", "Theory/research about creativity"
  • Methods & Techniques (2): "Methodology approaches to being creative (although the idea of confining to methodology is in itself not being creative)", "Methods to apply when we get stuck in one direction"
  • Ideation (3): "Learning to make something out of lots of ideas; learning what to take into account", "How to generate great ideas and make a good design based on those ideas", "How to evaluate my own ideas and keep coming up with better ones"
  • FUN (2): "Have fun", "something different & fun & inspiring"
  • Discovery (1) : "Improve existing creative skills and find new ones I didn't know about"
  • ETC.
    • "Some graphic design theory and practice"
    • "Guideline of methods or hints to guess what is useful for end users and how to make it real"
    • "How not to make bad/horrible designs"


Assignments will be primarily graded on participation. Creative practice requires enthusiastically embracing new, unknown experiences, and by actively participating in generative exercises. Quality does not matter as much as quantity.

There will also be opportunities to earn bonus points on novelty. If you come up with 110 ideas instead of 100, you'll still get 10/10 points. But if you decide to turn your list of ideas into a 100-line rhyming poem, you will get +1 surprise points (11/10). Challenge yourself to stand out from your peers, to be different. This does not necessarily mean extraordinary amounts of extra work, or even a better quality end result – it primarily requires willingness to put in extra thought and to take a risk.

Final Project:

  • In total, you will select and complete 4 of the mini-projects listed below.
  • Be prepared to present your project to the course; in addition to an in-person presentation, have "portfolio-worthy" documentation of each of your projects.
  • You must present at least one project at our Midterm "Show and Tell" on January 31.
  • The rest of the projects will be presented at the Final "Show and Tell" on February 28.
  • You may submit your projects for instructor critique on January 24, February 7, or February 14. You are encouraged to revise and iterate upon your designs.
  1. Keep a rich design journal for this class (or another design class). Express what you've learned from your design journal in the form of an epic mindmap.
  2. Prototype 3 different visualizations that describe the HCID program to future students. Select one and implement it beautifully.
  3. Create a map of Paris, from scratch. Each map should tailored in its style and content to a specific audience.
  4. Spell out a word using photographs that show everyday objects that look like letters (e.g., Alphabet Photography ). The subject matter of the photographs should match the meaning of the spelled word.
  5. Create 3 poster designs that advertise this course. Select one and implement it beautifully.
  6. Find 5 everyday signs that were created with haste. Create a thoughtful replacement, and post it for all five. Photograph the before and after, in context.
  7. Visit three stores that carry three different types of prototyping materials. Take pictures, and write a brief report on each one. What do they carry? Was there anything that surprised or delighted you?
  8. Ideate 3 possible alternate storylines for PONG, where a compelling storyline motivates the game mechanics. Storyboard one re-imagining of PONG; sketch/prototype how the game aesthetic might change to reflect this new narrative.
  9. Build a "clock": a physical, mechanical, or computational system that tracks the passage of time in a novel, meaningful way.
  10. Surprise me. Is there something that you've always wanted to do, but never had an excuse to get it done? *Instructor approval required.