After brainstorming 500 ideas on note cards, in order to productively access our ideas, we needed to organize them. Before we could organize them, however, we needed to be able to see all of them. We chose the biggest conference room in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK) for our pallet. All the walls are glass windows, so we taped all our note cards onto the wall so that we could see them all at once. Once the walls were completely covered in note cards, we needed to categorize them to reduce confusion. We read through the cards to look for common themes that could become categories. We initially built four categories: materials, features, concepts, and geometry.
These four categories were still fairly daunting, so we did a further breakdown of each category into more specified sections. Within the materials category, we divided the cards into smaller groups of types of materials, such as metals, fluids, and foams. For the features, we determined that some of the cards indicated specific parts, like different styles of handles, while others were possible features, like temperature monitoring. The concepts section was broken down into cards that suggested building off of a specific existing concept, or new ideas that could stand alone. For the geometry category, we first made a section of the different possible outside shapes, like a sphere or pyramid. In the remaining cards, we saw groups of different ways to interface with the art piece, such as through suspension, anchoring, or nesting.
Adding these more specified sub categories made it possible for us to view our ideas in an organized matter. It also enabled us to find cards that repeated similar ideas. When we found those cards, we stacked them on top of each other, so that we weren’t throwing out any cards, but we were paring the field in order to have a more concise group to work from. We also made an important extra category: the ridiculous category. We didn’t dispose of outrageous ideas, but set them aside, so that inspiration could still be drawn from them.
For more pictures of our brainstorming session, please visit our Flickr page.