Blog assignment 7: concept selection and idea pitches


For the concept selection assignment I used Pugh Chart to compare the 5 best ideas I chose last week. I was comparing them for 7 parameters as seen below:

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 9.16.23 PM.png

From the Pugh Chart I got a winning idea: the terrarium ornament. During my market research last week I noticed that all of the terrariums out there are clear colorless glass. By adding some color I might make the design more compelling. A color LED light integrated into terrarium will make it more visible in the environment with muted light. Also, the terrarium will work better for displaying its contents.

I was using dictionary to find synonyms to name an illuminated terrarium ornament. Several ideas I've got: Sheer Blaze, Sheer Rock, Sheer Spark, Flash Spark, Spark Tank, Blaze Tank, Sheer Christmas, Flash Spark, spark-o-tank,etc. Of all names, I like Spark most, and though this word is already used in names of several business and software applications, within Christmas decorations niche, there is no a product with this name. So, the name for the product is Spark. And here is the final sketch of my idea:


And here is the video with my 1 minute pitch:

my pitch video

Blog Assignment 6: Preliminary Idea Evaluation

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To identify top 5 ideas for holiday decorations of the 10 that I had from last week, I run a survey on I tried to keep it as simple as possible, but still get what I need from it, the survey asked only 3 questions:
1. Please choose the ideas for Christmas decorations that you can see yourself using: (I offer images of the 10 ideas with a short title here)
2. Please indicate how much money (USD) you would be willing to pay for the ornaments below;

And I added one more question to make sure participants have a chance to build on my ideas if they want to:
3. Would you like to add any comments / suggestions for improvement for some of the ideas above?

25 people participated in the survey, which gave me enough information to choose the top 5 ideas. Here they are:
1. The terrarium idea got 14 votes with an average of $ 14.3 that people would be willing to pay for it;
2. Collapsible ornament got 13 votes, with an average price for an item $ 5.2;
3. Fillable ornament received 12 votes, average price -- $ 6.6;
4. Projected ornaments got 10 votes, average price -- $ 34.2;
5. Decorative booze bottle got 10 votes, average price -- $ 9.5;


A) Benchmark
For the 5 ideas I created a 2x2 matrices trying to find out a white spot of latent possibilities.

1. The terrarium ornament 2x2 matrix revealed 2 opportunities for a product: a high-end terrarium without a kit, and a low-end terrarium with a kit. Another observation that might be an opportunity for a product is that all of the terrariums out there are clear colorless glass. I think adding some color might make their designs more compelling. The terrariums themselves can be made out of color glass, or a color LED light can be integrated into it. Personally, I like the last idea most.


2. I didn't find any collapsible ornaments on the Amazon, so I provide here a collection of goods from Amazon that have collapsible elements of some kind, which I can use later as an inspiration.


3. For the fillable ornament idea I chose the following parameters for comparison: high-end vs. low-end, and 1-piece vs. 2-piece. As seen on the image below, I found the white spot of a 2-piece high-end fillable ornament in the top right corner (where the question mark on green background is). And I pasted the image of a 2-piece terrarium there to show how it might look. It only needs a loop to be added at the top.


4. For the projected ornament idea the 2x2 matrix identified 2 opportunities: high-end with transcendental ornament and low-end with non-abstract visuals (for example, candles, snow flakes, ornaments, etc.)


5. The decorative bottle 2x2 matrix showed that neither in high-end nor low-end products that are currently on market, there is a combination of features of being edible (and/or drinkable) and a Christmas tree decoration at the same time. So it might be a good opportunity for a product.


B) Below are the 5 patents that I found making my preliminary patent search on these 5 ideas:

1. Fillable

2. Collapsible

3. Terrarium

Collapsible terrarium

(Diamond) terrarium

4. Projection ornament

5. Booze bottle


The biggest concern for the terrarium is how to integrate a LED light (and a battery) into a 1-piece glass structure.
LED light with a battery = $0.5 (similar to this)
glass terrarium = $1
labor = $1
manufacturing cost = $2

For the collapsible ornament, the biggest concern would be a price range, because the surveyed people on the average are ready to pay only $5.2 for an item, which is about the price range for a regular ornament that you can buy separately without a set, and which as a rule are easier to manufacture and assemble. The following calculations are made for a collapsible ornament similar to the pet travel bowl:
materials = $0.1 (rubber costs 253 cents per kilogram, and 1 ornament weights no more than 40 grams);
I assume that metallic part on top of the ornament will cost about the same = $0.1
labor = $0.2
manufacturing cost = $0.4

The 2-piece fillable ornament is a relatively simple design, so there should be no major problems with manufacturing. One of the concerns that I might have about it is to choose the right price point, so that it is not extremely expensive, but still is a bit luxurious and desirable, as consumers tend to find a product desirable because it has a high price.
glass terrarium = $1.5
plastic bottom material = $0.2
labor = $1.7
manufacturing cost = $3.4

For the projection of ornaments idea, the hardest part for me would be the use of technologies.
The manufacturing cost estimation here is really rough. I need to project ornaments to the surface of a Christmas tree, which is not flat, so I will need at least 2 sources of light (that make the projection). Lets take the cheapest light projector on my 2x2 matrix which is $6.99, and calculate its manufacturing cost: $6.99/5=$1.4. So, the manufacturing cost for my projected ornaments is $1.4*2=$2.8.

For the booze bottle idea, the main concern will be the weight of the bottle. It might be too heavy to be ganged on a Christmas tree branch because of the liquid inside and the glass the bottle made of.
Each 50ml bottle costs $1-5 depending on the beverage type. Lets approximate it to $3 per one bottle on the average. Lets assume that additional elements: wrapping foil, loop and a hook on top of the screw lid will cost $0.5. So, materials total is $3.5, and together with labor cost it will result in $7 of manufacturing cost.



I started working on this assignment by choosing an archetypal existing product related to my winter sub-theme, holiday decorations. The product I choose is Christmas ornament, because it is hard to imagine Christmas tree without any ornaments. I applied SCAMPER technique to it, and documented everything into my designer notebook, as can be seen in the images below:



From this exercise I obtained 7 new ideas. Please see the sketches for them below:

1. Fluorescent ornament, that charges in the light of lamps and then emits light when the light is off.


2. Candle holder that has a second function of an ornament.


3. Ornament that adapts pangolin's ability to wrap itself into a ball and then expand. The ornament can also be double-sided in this case.


4. An ornament that has an extra feature of being a terrarium for plants.


5. An ornament can be magnetic building blocks put to other use.


6. Really small ornaments for a small Christmas tree.


7. Pacman-style ornament that has 2 parts connected with a hinge.


Then I used TILMAG tool on Christmas ornament to generate more ideas. I created TILMAG matrix in Photoshop using images from the Internet to make it easier for other people to understand. I chose 4 important characteristics of a Christmas ornament to use: visceral attractiveness, good visibility (noticeability), lightweight, and means to be attached (to a tree branch). For the visceral attractiveness I chose several principles of design that can be applied to ornament: an anthropomorphic form (the Method dish soap bottle), use of saturated colors and special color combinations (in most of the images that I used), use of golden ratio (shell example), Veblen Effect -- a tendency to find a product desirable because it has a high price -- jewelry examples. The rest of the matrix is pretty self-explanatory.


From here I derived 2 more ideas:



After that I reviewed ideas from the blue sky brainstorming session, silly ideas from the week 2 assignment, ideas from using SCAMPER technique, one idea that I got from conversation with my sister when I was telling her what I am doing at grad school. And here are the 10 ideas that I like most:













To start working on this assignment I converted my two problem statements into How Might We questions:

1. An old lady needs a way to keep her memories of holidays she spent with her husband, because these are one of the dearest memories of all.
How might we keep memories of holidays we spend with dear to us people through holiday decorations?

2. A lady needs a way to store her holiday's decorations, because the holiday decorations take up too much space in her closet.
How might we store our holiday's decorations without occupying too much storage space?

Then I made an outline of important things that I should tell my idea generation session participants, for example, bring several ideas to the session, quantity is more important than quality, 1 idea per sheet of paper, title every idea, build on each other's ideas.
To come up with a new warm-up game, I searched the Internet, and found Alien Tiger Cow game of which I made my own interpretation Bee Dolphin Sheep:
Everyone stands in a circle. There are 3 things a player can be:
A bee: slightly but quickly flap your hands and start humming;
A dolphin: jump vigorously straight upward and make clicking sounds;
A sheep: start bleating turning your head to the left and the right.
On my sign, every player decides to become one of the three. The idea is for everyone to become the same. We re-do this until everyone is in sync.

I got a group of 4 people combining family members and friends:
- Alena, 31 years old, architect;
- Eman, 28 years old, PhD student at the U;
- Bryce, 42 years old, attorney;
- Alex, 27 years old, entrepreneur.

I served snacks and some food for the participants, people who didn't know each other had a chance to chat, so by the beginning of the session everyone felt comfortable already. We did several minutes of warm-up games, and were ready to start brainstorming. I printed out 3 slides from the lecture notes to better explain people what they are expected to do and how, and to give them some more options if they get stuck (role storming and use of random words slides). After that I didn't interrupt them, I was taking ideas from them and sticking to the wall, and making pictures of the brainstorming process. In 20 minutes we switched to the second How Might We question.


When all of the ideas were on 2 walls (one for each question), I asked participants to multi-vote for 2 most creative and 2 most feasible ideas from each wall.


Then we sorted ideas into categories. Some of the categories answering the first question are: cute ideas, related to activities spread in time, clothes-related, ideas requiring something from each family member, ideas featuring key moments from the past year, including photos, including holiday wishes. And 5 my favorite ideas would be:



(written on the image: meal with a single dish representing the favorite for each family member)



The categories from the second question idea generation are: ergonomic shape of ornaments, alternative ways for ornaments packaging, ornaments that can be repurposed, ways not to store any decorations at all, decorations without any physical components, made of materials that can be repurposed (edible, compostable, etc.).
And these are my 5 most favorite ideas:




Masha (me)


IPM for the group as a whole for the entire idea generation session was 0.4.



I started my work on the 3rd assignment by reading through the lecture notes, the ethnography primer and IDEO Bootcamp Bootleg. When reading I was making notes, and writing down the thoughts pertinent to the homework, about how to prepare for and conduct interviews by encouraging stories, as well as gather data for my research: observe success stories, do ethnographic observations, experience what my user experiences, and trying to discover meaning behind all of that.

I wrote down the technique of observation concentrating on what a person is doing, how and made a guess why. I used it later on in my observations at stores that sell holidays decorations, because it is the-sub theme I work on for this homework. I also laid out the names of the stores that I might be interested in visiting and made a tiny mind map to help me sort out my thoughts about the topic. Then I wrote down into the design notebook the questions I might ask different types of users: a shop assistant, professional decorator and amateur decorator, focusing on can you walk me through...?, how do you feel about...? and why? questions.



The first person I interviewed was Carol, a professional decorator for 15 years. She told me in great details how she made decorations for winter wedding, halloween and Christmas using natural and vintage themes. She likes to use organic elements in her designs, because it's unique, you cannot always find it in stores, and there are so many themes out there in nature, it is inexpensive and sustainable. Below are my notes from the interview:
scan 1.jpg

scan 2.jpg

The second person I interviewed was a shop assistant at the Christmas store at downtown Macy's store. It was her first day at the Christmas store and she couldn't tell much about decorations from the prospective of a person working at that store, though she told me an interesting story of her life. She is jewish and her husband was a christian, and the first thing they bought after getting married was a Christmas tree. She always wanted to celebrate Christmas, but they didn't celebrate it in her family. She mentioned that she still keeps several items from her first Christmas tree (which she bought about 40 years ago), and I guess it is something that reminds her of her husband who passed away a year ago. She also mentioned several issues with holiday decorations like fragility, and small size for some of them that you should be aware of if you have little kids.
scan 3.jpg

The third person I interviewed was a shopping assistant from Michaels store. From her I learned that the store gets decorations 6-8 weeks before the holiday, as people always decorate their homes prior holidays and most parties happen happen before holidays. Most of the items they have are pretty much the same as were last years, and each year there is a smaller collection of new items. She told me that she already decorated her apartments, because she will be busy at work at the end of the year. Two of the three people I interviewed mentioned that they don't do a lot of decorations because they live in small apartments. She likes about decorating for Christmas that she uses this time as a getaway from every day routine. I was recording our conversation, so I don't have any notes.

Here are several pictures I made during my research at Macy's Christmas store and Michaels:


And this are the observations I did of the people shopping for Christmas decorations, paying attention at who is shopping for holidays decorations, how they are doing it, and guessing why they are doing so:

The last part of this assignment was to engage in activities related to holidays decorations. I decided to decorate windows in my apartments with mini-lights, which I personally like and also had at my disposal. It took me some time to attach lights to the walls around windows using tape, but the result turned out very well. The only thing I didn't like is the green cord that goes from the lights to the circuit below the window, and the fact that tomorrow morning I can find all the construction on the floor, because tape is not the most reliable thing to use for this.

I found several opportunities from the interviews, observations of people shopping for holidays decorations and by engaging in decorations myself. Hera are the two opportunities that I like most:

  • An old lady needs a way to keep her memories of holidays she spent with her husband, because these are one of the dearest memories of all.

  • A lady needs a way to store her holidays decorations, because the holiday decorations take up too much space in her closet.



Part 1
I watched Louis C.K. one-hour performance that I hadn't seen before.

Part 2
Created mind map for the theme of winter. The 3 sub-themes that I pulled from the mind map are lack of sun and getting sick of winter by the mid February, winter outdoor sports connected with high speed movement and wind, and Christmas sales.

Part 3
I then chose ten silly ideas of products that I liked and illustrated them. Here they are:

1. Inflatable vest and kneecaps for the slippery weather. The hood protects head from all sides, note the protruding visor that protects your nose if you fall face down.

2. Adhesive napkins for people doing outdoor sports in winter. You don't need to take off your gloves and reach a napkin in your pocket. These napkins should go in multiple colors to fit the coat design.

3. Wrapping paper that simulates the Apple products package, works well with large books or medium size boxes. Depending on the size of your gift, choose the type of paper you need: iPhone, iPad, imac, etc. Probably, not good for small kids or very sensitive people.

4. Mitten with built-in ice-cream scoop. Secret weapon at the snow ball war.

5. Sun glasses for late February time, when you get so sick of snow, that even an illusion of grass can work to remind you of upcoming spring and summer.

6. Coat with built-in sleight. Be ready to slide at all times!

7. Aerodynamic ski boots to slide faster.

8. Black friday deodorant. Clear your way to your favorite brands.

9. Boots soles with animal footprints. Do you know what animals leave these footprints?

10. Popcicle box new design. Take the box outside, hang it at your back yard, and through the holes in the bottom of the box icicles made of popcicles will grow.



I started my work on this assignment by browsing The Flavor Bible for interesting and the so called affinitive flavors combinations. I was trying to keep in my mind accessibility of the products and their appropriateness as cookies ingredients. I found 2 potentially interesting combinations of flavors:
- Maple syrup + orange + carrots
- Mint + cucumber + lime

Then I inspected the fridge and kitchen shelves contents for prospective cookies ingredients, as shown on the picture below:
After that I searched the website for unusual cookies recipes and cooking methods. I found the Marshmallow Crispie Bars which I liked because it didn't require any baking at all. I decided to proceed with this one.

Then I searched for inspiration at the Pinterest website for cookies images, and Google for imaged of "cookies design" and made a collection of my favorite designs:

Having chosen the cooking method and flavors, I went shopping for the missing ingredients. And after returning home, started cooking. My first experiment was with Mint + cucumber + lime flavors, I decided to make a jam that will be later on spread on top of cookies. As seen on the images below, I peeled and rubbed the cucumber and half of a lime and chopped the mint. Then added some sugar and let the jam boil for about 10 mins. It tasted bitter because of the lime pulp and smelled so bad, that I didn't even consider it as a part of the cookies.

Fortunately, I had the second option of Maple syrup + orange + carrots flavors, which I had more hopes for. Again, I peeled and rubbed the ingredients, cooked the carrots in the microwave for 5 mins. And then let it boil with orange and maple syrup for about 10-15 mins. The carrot jam smelled and tasted pretty well, so I proceeded with the Marshmallow Crispie Bars recipe and melted the butter over low heat in the same saucepan with the carrots jam. Melted the marshmallows into the margarine, stirring. Added the rice cereal when the marshmallows have melted; stirred until cereal is coated. Quickly poured into the prepared pan. In about 12 hours I tried the resulting cookies, and they turned out to be too sweet to my taste. Also, they didn't form very well, because of the significant amount of jam in them, the cookies were not firm enough. Fail number 2.
Then I made one more round with The Flavor Bible book, and chose 2 more unintuitive combinations of flavors:
- Artichokes + lemon + mint + yogurt
- Yogurt + mint
This time I decided to try to separate the ingredients, for example artichokes and yogurt for the cookies and mint + lemon used for tea that would be served with the cookies. I wanted to make 2 quick experiments with these flavors combinations, so I found a Microwave Chocolate Chip Cookie In A Mug recipe of a very quick cookie and eliminated all the sweet components from it. I made 2 separate cookies with the same dough, but one had the artichokes in it. When I cooked and tried them, they didn't taste good and were stiff. I guess it happened because of the yogurt, which made the dough more thin, so I cooked it for a longer time, which resulted in stiffness afterwards. Fails number 3 & 4.
It all brought me to an idea of experimenting more with the look of the cookies rather than its ingredients. I found the Cheddar Cheese Nippers recipe of the savory cookies, which I like because I personally prefer savory cookies to sweet ones. I adapted the recipe by using parmesan cheese instead of cheddar and adding the rosemary to it. Both parmesan and rosemary remind me of Italy and traditional italian cuisine. Inspired by the italian theme, I thought of the shapes of the cookies look like various pasta types: penne, risone, farfalle, etc. The outcome turned out to taste really good (which you will have a chance to decide for yourself on Tuesday) and it looks fine too, though it took me some time to tailor the pasta cookies.


Recent Comments

  • ostre043: Masha, I like the idea of this type of ornament read more
  • pilgr028: Masha, I thought you made a nice pitch to the read more
  • poiga001: Hi Barysenka Really nice final sketch for your final idea. read more
  • ramas043: Hi Masha, You have done a wonderful job with your read more
  • rezek010: Hey Masha. Great job on the blog post. You did read more
  • rhode125: I love the way you have chosen to sketch in read more
  • simpk024: Hi, Great job with documenting your process and all the read more
  • schw1562: Hi, I understand your domain seems to be decorations, but read more
  • rusch107: Hello, I thought it was beneficial that your users were read more
  • tebej001: sorry to ring that old bell, but i liked the read more

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