Reception Area Design Exercise
[3 minutes reading time]
I thought I would share a little design workshop game that I dreamt up last year for a session that I ran with a new client. I say game, it’s not really a game – more of an exercise, but game makes it sounds a bit more exciting. I say too that I invented it,bl but I’ll add a quick disclaimer, just in case I have inadvertently stolen it from someone and simply forgotten. It happens.
Use a game to bring your brand online
I wanted an activity for a session with this particular client to get them thinking about visual aspects that represented their organisation, without overly obsessing about the web. As the session would be with a group of mostly non design people, it seemed appropriate to get them to create something from a completely different context other than a web design. I eventually decided that instead of designing a web page together, we would design a waiting room.
Get non-designers to create design ideas from a context they are more familiar with.
Most people, whatever their age, seem to have some opinion about interior ‘design’, and big corporations often think carefully about creating the right impression and environment for customers as they wait. At least I assume they do. I’m not sure how many corporate waiting rooms I’ve been in but I’m pretty sure I have been subliminally manipulated without realising, either made to feel relaxed, impressed, or slightly intimidated.
So, here’s the opening brief:
You must design a waiting room for a potential client who knows nothing about your organisation. Assume they have been teleported here, and all they know is that they require your services. You must design this room to best communicate the personality and ethos of the organisation, creating a particular atmosphere whilst subliminally instructing, influencing and informing your potential client.
I split the group into pairs, and gave them about ten minutes to come up with some answers. In best workshop tradition, they of course had to report back their waiting room designs to the rest of the group. This must happen in all workshops at some point. It’s the law.
To my surprise and relief the results were excellent. They had tons of ideas about the tone and mood being given and went into surprising detail. It felt good that they had been able to use real descriptive language about the physical world to communicate their ideas about design, without really being too aware that that’s what they had done.
What they described in this game really helped to get some initial ideas flowing and form the basis of a set of mood boards upon which the design process could begin.
If you need to start ideas flowing with a group of non designers whilst warming things up a little, give it a try and let me know how you get on.