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Visual thinking for creative designing


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This tool description is based on the way a Dutch industrial design company (JAM) puts visual thinking in practice ( This tool assists in BwN projects in clarifying a certain issue at stake, including roles and responsibilities of people involved. It also helps in illuminating project objectives and to gain a distinct overview of the situation. The results serve as a communication tool for all people involved in the project.

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How to Use

Basically, to place things in a very simple perspective, the process can be seen as the shape of an hourglass. The start of visual thinking is quite broad as everyone involved brings in ideas and time is taken for discussion about the issue at stake (top of the hourglass). Then all important elements of the issue concerned are derived from the conversation and drawn in a sketch (the middle of the hourglass). This drawing is discussed and adjusted where necessary. In the result people see their own contributions of ideas and this creates a support base. Then the drawing can be used as a reference in further discussions and functions as a means of dissemination and communication to wider public (bottom of the hourglass).

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Practical Applications

The tool was applied in two projects within the BwN Singapore case. In the project ‘eco-dynamic design for coastal defence’ several local and regional scientists, consultants and employees of governmental agencies were brought together in a two-days course. Visual thinking had to initiate, stimulate and support communication among the participants of the course. The program consisted of 3 steps.


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