Recently we’ve been making a whole bunch of prototypes to refine our ideas on the smell of success. Ranging from the awesome to the awful, we’re gradually getting nearer to just the right combination of components, coding and smelly stuff that might make our Internet connected smell dispenser a little more real.
There is something slightly odd about trying to cobble together prototypes in the super slick Mint offices. It’s something about prototyping with stuff. Not with grids, pixels and lines of perfectly constructed code, but cardboard, Pringle tubes, perfume bottles, glue, tape, knives, exposed wires and general chaos. There is no Ctrl+Z in this world. Thus prototypes evolve and disappear very quickly. A quick mock up allows a rapid assessment of its function, before it gets mashed up into the next iteration in the hope of betterment. There is something about using your hands and brain throughout this process that is completely different to designing something on screen, and trying to decipher it’s weaknesses from merely looking at it. (Think Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
I went to see Matt Jones of Berg speak at the Design council the other day and he mentioned this idea from Fat architects Fantastic journal that “He has to make what he is thinking in order to express it”. I guess this is exactly what I’m trying to say, just a lot more succinctly put.
So that’s it really, make stuff quick, see if it works, and listen to Matt Jones. And everything should be a walk in the park.
The other thing is that I really like this idea of an object being a transient prototype. Never finished, polished or defined. It would be awesome if mass consumer objects were like this. I suppose it’s kind of already happened with music and videos that get remixed, mashed up and re-distributed, and it’s becoming increasingly attractive to Generation C to do this with physical objects as well. I’d imagine the increasing accessibility to 3D printers and rapid prototyping facilities will only spur on this trend. Bruce Sterling has got an incredible short story about this possible future; you can listen to it here.
In the mean time, we’re going to keep on making stuff. As long as it’s not those bloody posters.