As a designer I don’t understand this “design thinking” trend. I feel like designers are little solicited in the process


All-rounder Designer


As I explained roughly in a previous article on the HIVE creative process, design thinking rests on iteration and holds four main phases: research / insight / ideate / prototype .

The double diamond structure simplified

The double diamond creative process simplified

It is only but recently that I realized we often tend to leave out the “performing” side of the process to focus on its reflective aspect. Empathize, Ideate, iterate… those words all ring a bell to us. But “acting” seems to have been thrown off the window, transforming design thinking into a BS (rayer) methodology with no real application. If I learned anything by working with designers at the HIVE, it’s that doing matters.


Usually, when we think prototype, we immediately picture a miniaturized version of our product / service. But prototyping is actually the first concept’s “crash test”. The goal is for you to identify your project’s core aspects / values and design a first draft accordingly. It leaves plenty of room for touch-ups, little adjustments, and, in case of failure… for a pivot.


It also helps you materialize your idea. By quickly crafting your until-then virtual concept, you will directly see how it stands when coming to life. It’s a necessary step for you to access raw material / your project’s core and build-up from it.


Finally, it allows you to collect direct feedback / insight from your final users. You’re designing for others to use your creation. Eventually, you’ll have to know what they think of it. A prototype is the perfect way to include them in your reflection and allow them to express their first impressions when interacting with your project.



The HIVE staff illustrated “prototype” with the following example:

First, close our eyes for a minute and imagine you’re some kind of a 20th Century version of Elon Musk. Ready? Set. Go!

As the Elon of your world, you’re tired of public transportation. You recently came up with the idea of a new mobility means – let’s say the end product is a car. What are you going to present to the people?  Well, your prototype’s aim is first and foremost to help people project themselves in your innovative mobility system. If you have no time, you can make a wheel – for people to see what can activate your product’s movement. If you have some time ahead of you, you may build a scooter – for people to understand what sensations / speed you’ll reach when using the future product. And if you have Elon’s fortune and crazy schedule, you’ll just build a Tesla from scratch!

A notebook with a UX journey


* But I’m not Elon*

Worry no more, here are two concrete examples of how quickly / slowly a project can run with(out) prototyping.

We had to start prototyping with paper to see if the interaction worked or not

Florence Grosse

CAPSULE co-founder
It always starts with cardboard


CAPSULE is a HIVE-born project which goal is to explore and design “meaningful encounters”, was first prototyped at thecamp’s bar. Every evening after 6pm, the team would come sit down at the table, scout for people to come and test the interaction with them. But how did they “encapsulate” their moment in a “frugal prototype”? A little hint: it was paper and ink crafted only. It consisted in a simple card game. Both parties – either people who didn’t know each other beforehand or the gamemaster and whoever accepted to be a beta tester – went through a predesigned (non randomized) experience. Today CAPSULE is an interactive autonomous interaction … but it had to #startfromthebottom to get there

CAPSULE 1st installation

The first CAPSULE experience 

More on CAPSULE here (video) and here


I can’t project myself for now, we have nothing to show


MERGY co-founder
It always ends with cardboard


Little confession. Our project’s greatest weakness has been precisely the lack of quick prototyping. We spent countless hours ideating / debating / wondering / studying different paths the project could take overtime. This ended up in constant pivoting and little adjustments, without actually consulting our final-users. 

We found ourselves stuck more often than we like to admit. When meeting new partners, we had a vision, but no actual tangible object to fix it. And after a while, we realized that because we didn’t concretize our project, we each represented it slightly differently. No need to say this was when we hit the wall. Hard.

This lack of medium undermined us. It almost killed the project. We crafted in a hurry our first model in late January. Once we had a clear image (and feedback from people), we pivoted (for the last time), all set – and on the same page.

The rest of the adventure until March was still a heck of a ride, but we eventually made it out alive.


More on MERGY here, hereand here.


To close this article, I ‘ll leave you with a challenge we went through at the HIVE

DO TRY IT AT HOME PLEASE, I promise it’s safe

Shawn the sheep giving thumbs up



  • 2 to 24 hours
  • Material: whatever you can find that doesn’t need someone else’s intervention / quick use
  • An audience to double the fun

Two VERSIONS are possible for the exercise:


 Like a Vanilla ice-cream in summer

Each team / person has 2 to 24h to come up with a prototype. Once the time is up everybody gathers to pitch and unveil their own.


Like a Roquefort-tasting ice cream

Consider adding a little more spice to the concept by switching it up. Each team or person has to prototype another team’s / person’s project.

If the projects are not known beforehand, a joker pitch is allowed before starting the challenge. Once the challenge is launched, no interaction is allowed between teams  before the prototypes’ unveiling “ceremony” (both to remain objective and see what sticks into people’s mind when thinking about your project).

If the version 1) is doable pretty much everywhere (all you need is paper at most), I really recommend 2). Not only does it provides you with an exterior insight on the project, it also allows you to see if what you consider important sticks out.

What are you waiting for? Let’s prototype!

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