Inspiration Cards

Visualising Understanding

WHAT is it?

Inspiration Cards are a tool designed to inspire students through visual elements and images. Some of the images are chosen to reflect very concrete concerns about design, such as usage at different times or by different users. Other cards contain images that give insights into or call for the consideration of different human needs.

WHY use it?

The cards can help students imagine their ideas in different scenarios. This type of imagining can be helpful for concretising designs in different usage, environmental and even emotional contexts. The cards are designed to help students think in terms of images or concrete situations and objects instead of merely textually.

HOW to do it?

Introduction (10mins)

Explain the goal of the session and the several steps that the students will go through.

The Inspiration Cards have more than 100 attractive images in the categories of people, time, activities, emotion, local places and other polysemic images for inspiration. Some of the images may signify a relatively specific meaning, but all have been chosen to be open for interpretation.

Inspiration and storytelling (40mins)

Facilitators can choose from different ways of using the Inspiration Cards. Although 2 suggestions are given here, the Inspiration Cards are designed as a freely interpretable tool and you could develop your own ways to use the cards.

Facilitator’s questions

Lay out all of the cards on the table, with the images facing upward.
The facilitator can prepare some of the cards for use in asking about different aspects of students’ designs.
The questions could be factual, thus helping the students concretise their ideas or give more consideration to how they would work in a real-world situations. Some sample questions are:

Is your design usable for someone in a wheelchair?
What if it rains?
What material do you think your design should use?

The questions could also be imaginative, thus encouraging the students to think figuratively. Two examples are:

If your design was angry, what would it be like?
What if your design was floating on the sea?

Students can then be asked to choose additional cards with which to further elaborate on their designs.


Ask the students to choose different images to complete a story, guided by any of the following frameworks:

5W: Who, What, When, Where, Why
AEIOU: Activities, Environments, Interactions, Objects and Users
POEMS: People, Objects, Environments, Messages and Services

Presentation and debriefing (10mins)

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