rip and mix

Rip and Mix at Glasgow Caledonian University

Rip and Mix is a creative process. It is a tool that enables you to come up with lots of ideas very quickly. It is a very visual way of working and highlights that starting with user needs is not the only approach to innovation. The tricky bit is sketching ideas very quickly and intuitively. This month I spent an afternoon running  a workshop on Rip and Mix with design students at Glasgow Caledonian University. In the past I have used this method to design communication products and services for the elderly - ripping and mixing communication products used by a wide range of stakeholders with communication products specifically designed for the elderly. I have used this tool addressing the question "How can we reduce waiting times in NHS surgeries?" - ripping and mixing products and services focused on time and the passing of time with various health services and other services that require 'waiting' such as the theatre...

The students have been working on semiotics and affordance so for this workshop I decided to work around cash machines for the visually impaired - ripping and mixing all products designed for visually impaired people and all products and services around retrieving finance (ranging from physical money to intangible information )

This worked really well as it had a good balance of product / interactive / 3D elements - hence catering for all the disciplines who were there:

"For example, a drawing of a three-dimensional button on a computer screen leverages our knowledge of the physical characteristics of the buttons and, therefore, appears to afford pressing. The popular 'desktop' metaphor used by computer operating systems is based on this idea - images of common items like trash cans and folders leverage our knowledge of how those items function in the real world and thus, suggest their function in a software environment. Mimic familiar objects and environments in abstract contexts to imply the way in which new systems can be used."

You can see photos of the workshops here.

One workshop was held in an bright, open plan  room whereas in the other we were confined to room filled with computers. This had a huge impact on the energy of the group.  I got asked questions about 'stakeholders' and what that really means. I also got asked to explain the meaning of 'sensual and emotional form' ... this is something that I always use real life examples to explain.

This workshop was about quantity rather than quality and teaching the students how to 'let go' and not be so precious about their ideas. I will be uploading the main ideas generated soon so you will be able to see what elements the students ripped and mixed to come up with new solutions.

Here is some feedback from Dave Wood, a lecturer in Digital Design at Glasgow Caledonia University.

"Lauren's (SNOOK's) Rip and Mix workshop was just what my year 1 and 2 undergraduate design students needed. It enabled them to move out of their design comfort zones and propose, through sketching, twenty ideas each on a design problem. The technique utilises semiotics which really helped the students understand the importance of visual analysis. It was fun, energetic, engaging and above all useful. At a post-workshop de-brief the vast majority of students said they would use the technique in the future on a variety of design problems - product, interactive and 3D.  Not one student reacted negatively to the technique - and those who were initially unsure began to see the relevance after the workshop. Overall it was a fantastic opportunity that I'd like to build into next year's curriculum again."

If you would like Snook to come and talk to your students or class mates about Rip and Mix then please do get in touch!

We've got a thinkin' problem

The design initiative 'Unfinished business' is the unfinished words and deeds of the core team of the unfinished business project. They have highlighted an interesting way of perceiving design thinking. If 'design thinking' was an object, how would you describe it?

"How might the application of a familiar analogy might help to illuminate the elusive qualities of design thinking? We thought it would be an interesting experiment to see what folks would come up with if tasked with submitting three entries or nominations for a periodic table of the elements of design thinking. FYI, the current table of chemical elements contains 117 atomic elements.

First, I put out a call on Twitter (got a few bites) and then I posted the question/task to the Google Group of the Overlap community. In short order, the folks on the Overlap list got a very good list going, along with some very interesting discussion about what to do with structure, categories, and how best to visualize these “elements” and their relationships to each other and to the meta of design thinking.

I do believe that there is merit in trying to puzzle out what happens when we put design and thinking together. I’ve always thought it was kind of like trying to put hand and head back together, to reunite the body and mind and undo the violence of their Cartesian separation. We have to, to borrow the phrase of country singer David Ball, admit we’ve got a thinkin’ problem in design.

Rather than struggle too much with an overburdened theoretical approach to the question, “so what is that design thinking thing, anyhoo” I have taken the approach that there really is something there. The evidence for that would be, I submit, that if there an “object” called design thinking, then we ought to be able to start to describe it. The elements that are emerging from this thread are already bearing out some interesting data and pattern to mull over. Please join in with you suggestions for elements, related thoughts and relevant links.

Here’s the list we have so far, merely organized by alpha for the moment. All thoughts about meta categories, and structural or visual ways to describe relation are also very welcome. Will Evans has rightly suggested that (among other things) this can be seen as an effort to develop an ontology of design thinking. That means that philosophers can have a go at this, too."

The (Overlapping) Elements of Design Thinking

Abduction = Ab Analysis = Al Anticipation = An Behaviors = Bh Collaborative = Cl Collapse: Cl Communication = Cm Community: Cm? (Cy) Context = Cx Contribution: Cn Convergence = Cv Courage = Co Debate = Db Deconstruction = Dc Dr = Design Research Dialogue = Di Discourse = Ds Divergence = Dv Empathy = Em Envisioning = En Experimental = Ex Fabrication = Fb Failure: Fi Forecast = Fc Heuristics = Hr Human = H Ideation = Id Identification = Id? Imagination: Im Internalization = Iz Iteration = It Language = La Myth = Mt Noticing = Nt Observation = Ob Overlap = O or Ov Perception = Pn Play = Py Practice: Pc Prototyping = Pt Recombining = Rc Reframing = Rf Reliability = Rl Research = Rs Rigour: Rg Semiotics = Se Skepticism = Sk Sociality = So Sustainability = Su Synthesis = St Systemics = Sy Taste = Ta Thrivability = Tv Topography: Tp Validity = Vl

Nick has already spotted this one, coining it "pretentious but inspiring". Christopher Fahey from advises "please don’t try to shoehorn this into the *actual* periodic table’s grid".


I can see where these guys are coming from and have to admit I do agree with them. Although, I think the idea of describing an intangible as an object has huge potential. This experiment is reminding me of the Rip and Mix method I explored at T-labs - if we could break down methods and ways of thinking into these elements then we would be able to pull elements from each, mashing them together to create something new.