Assignment #7: Idea Selection & Pitch

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For this last assignment we were to create a PUGH chart analyzing our top or most promising ideas to pursue for the final concept pitch. For this chart I decided to include the top three ideas I found to be the most feasible from a new product design standpoint. These three ideas are the Scarf Blanket, the Beer Scarf and the Heat-Absorbing Scarf.

I decided to choose evaluation criteria that would help provide an overall assessment of each product's novelty, feasibility and marketability. I kept it basic and chose my favorite 5 criteria:

  • Cost
  • Manufacturability
  • Marketability/Appeal
  • Ease of Use
  • Complexity of Design

Next, I filled out my PUGH chart and included a screenshot of the table below.

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From this analysis I chose to pursue the Beer Scarf because the chart resulted in a higher PUGH score overall.

Next we were asked to create a more detailed final sketch for the product pitch, as well as generate a name for the product that was catchy without being distracting.

Some of the names that resulted from this research included:

"Barf" (Beer + Scarf)
A friend of mine came up with this one, and while it's pretty funny, I don't know if I want the negative connotation of vomiting associated with the product...

"GameTime Scarf"
To-the-point; fitting to represent a product associated with sporting events.

"Komfort Koozie"
Playing off of the idea for the built-in beer koozie/holder. (I also learned that koozie is spelled with a 'k' - who knew?)

"Slurp Scarf"
Again, associating the idea of a scarf with enjoying a beverage.

My favorite of these was the last, "Slurp Scarf". I thought it was catchy and quickly got the idea across that it is a scarf associated with drinking a beverage. I drew up a more detailed sketch and uploaded it below for reference. I'll likely produce another image for the product pitch in class on Tuesday.

slurp scarf.JPG

Finally, the last step of this assignment was to create a short, 30-second video to pitch this idea to our audience as a way to gain some feedback before presenting in class. I tried not to make the video too infomercial-y, buuuut unfortunately that is harder than it sounds. (I felt a little like the Sham-WOW! guy between takes and improvised to make it a little less cheesy). Here's the final product!

Slurp Scarf.avi

Assignment #6: Idea Evaluation

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This week's assignment involved further analyzing our "top 10" best product ideas from last week's post. Using the lecture notes from last lecture, we were to look at the marketability, novelty and feasibility of these ideas.

I started by including a list of the top 10 products for reference below. I chose to include a bit more of a description of each would be used in the survey I put together (more on that in a bit).

Top 10 Product Ideas

1. Cinch Scarf: a scarf with a built-in cinch capability to shrink it in size when not in use.
2. Scarf Blanket: a system of attachable scarves that can be easily pieced together and have a dual use as a blanket when they would otherwise be sitting storage.
3. Scarf/Jacket Attachment: a scarf and jacket design that allows the two pieces to be easily attached to prevent separate storage needs, losing a piece, etc.
4. Beer Scarf: a scarf that includes a bottle opener and a coozie pouch for tailgating and other outdoor activities/entertainment.
5. Built-in Phone Scarf: a scarf that has built-in capability to allow talking into the scarf instead of a cell phone speaker. This allows the user to talk hands-free in cold outdoor environments.
6. Electric Scarf: a scarf that provides an interior heat pad to be charged electrically and allow a long period of heat release for the user.
7. Scarf Tree: a specifically designed coat rack for holding multiple scarves.
8. iScarf: a scarf with a built-in iPod or iPhone pouch and earphones to allow a user to use these electronics hands-free while keeping warm in cold environments.
9. Heat Absorbing Scarf: a scarf that is made of a specialized material that absorbs body heat that can then be re-radiated back to the user over a longer period of time.
10. Massager Scarf: a scarf that includes a built-in electric massager pad for added comfort and relaxation when in use.


PART 1: MARKETABILITY

I began by polling 15 people on these ideas by creating a survey and sending it out to a number of classmates and friends. I used the UMN affiliated survey website Qualtrics to conduct this questionnaire. A few screenshots of the survey is shown below:

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I took the results and determined which of the top 10 ideas were the most popular. Next, I down-selected to the top 5 ideas for further analysis. The results were as follows (in no particular order):

1. Scarf Blanket System
2. Scarf Jacket Attachment
3. Beer Scarf
4. Electric Scarf
5. Heat Absorbing Scarf

An example of a survey result report is shown below:

survey3.JPG


PART 2: NOVELTY

Part two of this assignment involved benchmarking the top 5 ideas from part one. For each idea, I searched he internet for products that already existed, or else were similar in nature. I graphed these ideas on five 2x2 charts to begin to visualize the current state of the art, as well as determine any areas where there might be room for a new product. The results are shown below.

Idea 1: Scarf Blanket System

Although there weren't any exact products like this idea (that I could find), there were some similar products that I decided to include on my 2x2. These are DIY projects where people have permanently stitched together old scarves to make a blanket, as well as scarves that are big enough to double as a blanket.

2x2_scarfblanket.JPG

Idea 2: Scarf-Jacket Attachment

Again, I didn't find many products in this space that accomplished what the idea intends to: to provide users with a system or way of attaching their scarf to their jacket. The products I did find were primarily jackets with a built-in or attached scarf or face mask.

2x2_scarfjacket.JPG

Idea 3: Beer Scarf

Again, this was a hard product to find similarities to (I'm sensing a pattern here...). I found beer-related scarves that people wear to represent their favorite teams, as well as beer koozies made out of scarf/knit material. The most similar product I found in this category was a scarf with built-in pockets that could possibly double as koozies for cans or bottles. However, no products that I found included a beer bottle opener. It was clear from this analysis that there could be a real market here for this product in the area of "expensive" and "highly functional". Additional thoughts I had would be this market could be widened even more by providing the product in a number of different sports teams' names, colors, mascots, etc.

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Idea 4: Electric Scarf

This idea resulted in almost no current products on the market. The only one I could find was a product from China that was electric in that it warmed the user while allowing them to charge/use an iPod or other electric device (which combines a few of my other initial ideas into one). Honestly I was pretty surprised by this -- there are so many electric blankets out there, but no electric scarves? Granted, electric blankets remain plugged in when being used, where as an electric scarf would need to be wireless. This tells me that maybe the technology is too difficult to achieve.

2x2_electricscarf.JPG

Idea 5: Heat Absorbing Scarf

This category of products resulted in the most interesting similar products. For this chart, I found a ClimaWare product that allows active hikers/outdoorsmen to either heat or cool their neck using battery operated pods located within the scarf. Similarly, I found a cooling-only product on the Chinese market that helps prevent heat stroke by keeping the back of the user's neck cool during hot weather. I figured this technology could possibly be reversed to heat instead, like in the ClimaWare product. Finally, I found an air-activated heating pad that equestrians use when riding in cold weather. This reminded me of those small hand-sized pads that you break to release the chemicals to allow the heat reaction to occur and keep your hands warm. I figured this could be a technology that might be able to be incorporated in a scarf setting.

2x2_heatabsorb.JPG

Next, we were asked to conduct a preliminary patent search on these products ideas. I decided to include a link to a similar product patent below each idea if I could find one, otherwise I noted I couldn't and left it blank.

Idea 1: Scarf Blanket System

"Textile Products" Patent: a patent for a product that claims to use four sides and an upper and lower surface to provide more surface area. The claim says it can be used as either a scarf or as a blanket.

Idea 2: Scarf-Jacket Attachment

I found two different patents for this idea.

"Decorative Embellishment for Clothing" Patent: a patent that allows decorative embellishments (including scarves) to be attached to articles of clothing.

"Article of Clothing" Patent: a patent for a scarf-like product that has a means of attaching itself to the user in order to hang a certain way.

Idea 3: Beer Scarf

I wasn't able to find any patents for products that would be similar to this idea. Not sure if that's a good or a bad thing...

Idea 4: Electric Scarf

"Heating System" Patent: a patent for a temperature sensor located within a textile-based product to regulate and heat the body when needed.

Idea 5: Heat Absorbing Scarf

"Magnetic Heating Blanket" Patent: a patent for a product that uses a conductor to create a magnetic field to heat a material.


PART 3: FEASIBILITY

Finally, the last part of this assignment involved assessing the feasibility of each of the top 5 product ideas. I did a basic analysis of the feasibility from a technology standpoint, as well as a very rough manufacturing cost analysis using the techniques from our last class lecture. I included a short description of each analysis for the ideas below.

Idea 1: Scarf Blanket System

For this product, the manufacturing costs would include the material for the scarf itself and the means by which it can be attached to other scarves. At first I pictured a zipper-type system that would allow easy attachment and detachment. So, I found out the price of cotton per square yard (estimate) from a fabric store, and the price of garment zipper systems per yard (estimate) also from a fabric store. A tricky part of this rough analysis is that the fabric for the scarves itself would vary widely depending on its design.

($6/yard fabric) + ($0.15/yard zipper x 2 sides) = $6.30 per scarf

Idea 2: Scarf-Jacket Attachment

This product idea was also a bit difficult to estimate. I did a basic analysis using the numbers from the scarf blanket idea since I had originally thought that the attachment mechanism could be achieved with zippers as well.

($6/yard fabric) + ($0.15/yard zipper) = $6.15 per scarf attachment

Idea 3: Beer Scarf

Again, this product would be a basic scarf but would include extra fabric for bottle holders/koozies as well as a small metal bottle opener sewn into the fabric. I did an analysis using the values for a basic scarf above, and then estimated the cost of including extra fabric and a small steel opener (approximated at 1/8 lb).

($6/yard fabric) + ($6 x 1/3 yard extra fabric) + ($0.40 x 1/8 lb) = $8.05 per scarf

Idea 4: Electric Scarf

The analysis for the next two products was difficult because without further research into the technology, it's not possible to know exactly what types of materials are required for each to be manufactured. I used the retail price of an electric blanket, determined an approximate manufacture cost, and halved it because it would probably include about half of the material.

($50 retail price) / 10 (material cost ratio) / 2 (halved) = $2.50 per scarf

Idea 5: Heat Absorbing Scarf

Again, this analysis was difficult because without further research into the technology that this product would use, it's not easily possible to know what types of materials are required for each. What I decided to do here for the time being was to, again, take the price of the heat absorbing equestrian product I found and adjust to find the material cost.

($20 retail price) / 10 (material cost ratio) = $2.00 per scarf


Note: especially for the last two products, I would ideally like to determine a more accurate way of estimating manufacturing costs. This would require much more investigation that I felt was out of the scope of this assignment.

Assignment #5: Structured Idea Generation

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PART 1: SCAMPER

I started this assignment by jumping into part one which had to do with the SCAMPER tool of idea generation. Using my sub-theme of scarves, I used SCAMPER to come up with some more ideas pertaining to a possible product in this field. I made notes in my design notebook and included a photo of it below.

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From this activity, I chose one idea from each category and included a sketch of it in my design notebook as well. The ideas are also included here:

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PART 2: MORPHOLOGICAL MATRIX

The next part of the assignment required the use of one of the matrix-based tools we discussed in lecture. I decided to use the morphological matrix and came up with the following table:

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The table I created resulted in a few new ideas, which I included below.

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PART 3: BRAINSTORMING SESSION REVISITED

For this section of the assignment, we were asked to revisit the top ideas that resulted from our brainstorming session. Of those ideas, we were to decide if any had the potential to turn into real products. The ideas that I thought might have the potential were:

1. iScarf: a scarf that has a built-in iPhone/iPod/mP3 player and headphones

2. Beer Scarf: a scarf with a built-in coozie and bottle opener (perfect for tailgating in cold weather!)

3. Blanket Scarf: a system of scarves that, when not in use, can be attached together to be used as a blanket

4. Scarf/Coat Attachment: a scarf/coat set that can be attached together, so you don't have to worry about losing it or having it come undone


PART 4: "BEST OF THE BEST" PRODUCT IDEAS

For the last part of this assignment, we were to select the top 10 ideas we have encountered to date for our sub-theme. We were to sketch these ideas in our notebook as well as post them here. (Drum roll please....)

Here they are:

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Assignment #4: Brainstorming

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PROMPT

For this assignment, start by converting two of your problem statements into "how might we" questions. Get a group of people together (at least 4 others) in person. It is your challenge to facilitate and participate in two brainstorming sessions: one for each "how might we" question. Spend at least 20 minutes on each question. Follow the guidelines in the lecture notes. Keep the session playful. Perhaps start with improv games. You should come up with one new game or tool. Sort the ideas into categories. You can use the silent sort method to save time. Do a multi-voting to see which ideas are most popular with the participants. Document the process that you used in both text and photos. Document the IPM. Post the 10 "best" concepts as sketches on the blog and in your design notebook. 5 ideas from each "how might we" prompt.

GETTING STARTED

For this assignment I was able to get four other people to agree to be a part of a brainstorming session to come up with new ideas to innovate my topic area: scarves. However, the session itself did not go as well as I had hoped as far as quantity of ideas went (more on that later).

To get started, I decided to get the group started by playing a game to get them in a more creative mood. And for a lazy Sunday night, this was imperative because everyone seemed to be tired and read to get to bed. For the two guys in the group, I had to compromise and let the Broncos/Chiefs game be on in the background. Not ideal, but like I said, it was basically a condition of their involvement.

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Image Source: http://cf.geekdo-images.com/images/pic1395133.jpg

The game we played is a game I came up with last weekend and decided to perfect for this assignment. It is based on the game Scattergories, but I argue it's more easily played than the full game (which requires boards, paper, writing, and takes much longer). The only materials you need from the actual game are the category cards and the die. This is how you play:

GAME RULES
Sit all players in a circle, preferably around a table.Using a category card, have each person take turns reading off a category and rolling the die to see which letter will be the subject of the round. (The player holding the card is the host and doesn't contribute to that round.) Then, the remaining players go around in clockwise order naming a word for the category, without repeating ideas. When a player can't think of anything, they get a "strike" and are out of the round. When three people can't name anything, there are three strikes and the round ends. Because the point of the game is to be creative and have people improvise, there aren't points involved. The winner can be chosen by the group as the person with the best/most ideas. The game was well-received by the group and they agreed that is was a quicker way to play the board game.

"HOW MIGHT WE...?"

Before we could start the brainstorming session, I had to formulate my two problem/need statements into "how might we" statements. I did this beforehand and, based on the previous assignment's notes, came up with the two following statements to use with the group:

1. "How might we make wearing scarves more masculine?"
2. "How might we store scarves effectively?"

I felt as though these questions were broad enough but also specific to the ideas I was trying to get out of the activity.

BRAINSTORMING SESSION

Next, I started to set up the materials for the brainstorming session in the living room. Similar to the class brainstorming activity, we used markers and post-its for participants to draw and title their ideas. I used the same set-up and rules in class (i.e. drawings must have a title, ideas must be introduced to the group, etc.) We set 20 minutes as a timer and got started.

At first, it didn't go so well. It took the group a long time to get the ideas flowing, and even by the end, the quantity of ideas was pretty low. The group was shy and it took a while for them to come out of their shells. I tried to continually inspire them to be silly and think outside of the box, which seemed to help. As a modification to the class activity, when things got slow I decided to throw in random activities or objects to inspire them. This also seemed to help.

For the first session focused on making scarves more masculine, the IPM for the group was about 0.85. For the second session about scarf storage, the IPM was 1.05 for the group. The IPM per person, however, was much lower than in class, which makes sense.

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THE IDEAS

The following photos summarize the photos for each brainstorming session. The first is for masculine scarf ideas, the second is for scarf storage.

How might we make wearing scarves more masculine?

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How might we store scarves effectively?

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THE TOP TEN

Next, I had the group categorize the ideas and choose their favorites. The following are the highest ranked ideas for innovating scarves respective to each session category.

How might we make wearing scarves more masculine?
"iScarf": A scarf with a built-in iPod jack and headphones
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"Movember Scarf": A scarf that doubles as a faux moustache
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"Beer/Drink Scarf": A scarf that includes both a bottle opener and a coozie to keep your beverage insulated
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"Massage Scarf": A scarf that provides the user with a neck massage when wearing it
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"Chive Scarf": A scarf that embodies the popular men's website The Chive
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How might we store scarves effectively?

"Cinch Scarf": A scarf that has a built-in cinch capability to quickly shrink in size and hang on a hook
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"Pull-Out Drawer Scarf Shelving": A shelving system on a track to pull out of the wall and vertically display scarves (similar to a food pantry shelving system)
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"Over-the-door Scarf Hanger": A scarf storage system that hangs over the back of a door (similar to a shoe rack)
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"Zipper Blanket Scarf": Scarves have zippers that allow them to be added to a blanket to use when not being worn, rather than be stored somewhere out of reach
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"Coat w/ Built-in Scarf System": Redesigning a coat so that a scarf can zipper to it directly -- the user is never without a scarf and doesn't have to store it separately
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I made sure to keep all the ideas and document the top ten in my design notebook for further research and future assignments. Overall I think this assignment was really fun! It was interesting to see how a brainstorming session can be held outside of the classroom, which is more of an ideal environment. I was able to make notes on how I would change the process in future sessions.

Assignment #3: Ethnographic Research

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PROMPT

ASK: Conduct at least three separate in-person interviews (not a group interview) with potential users and experts. At least one of the three interviews should be someone who would be considered somewhat of an expert in the specific area. OBSERVE: Observe people in the setting related to your sub-theme. Take notes. Try not to get in the way or make your presence obvious. EXPERIENCE: Engage in activities related to your sub-theme. Think about your actions and why you are doing each step. Take photos or storyboard your experience.

GETTING STARTED

I began this assignment by doing some initial research online about my winter sub-theme: scarves. I figured a good way to start would be to familiarize myself more with the space so I could start to formulate questions to ask the three individuals I would be interviewing. I started by making a small collage of scarves to get the creative juices flowing on the topic. A simply Google search resulted in thousands of photos of different styles of scarves, how they are used/worn, different material types -- the list goes on.

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One thing I noted during this step was how many websites/blogs/pins etc. that focused specifically on the many different ways of tying a scarf. I had no idea how creative people got with the way they used this accessory! Below is a sample image taken from a blog that displays 12 ways to tie a scarf (and trust me, there are maaaany more out there).

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Image Source: http://prettypleaseus.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/12ways.jpg

As a frequent user of this kind of product, I had some initial thoughts on what types of issues or areas for improvement that would likely come up. However, I wanted to make sure I didn't let this bias affect my research. While I found many of my initial thoughts realized within the interviews, there were many other things I hadn't ever thought about regarding the use of scarves. One important part of my first observations, however, was realizing that there are a few major categories of products in this space: scarves used as statement pieces that focus more on style, and scarves that are designed more for functionality to be as warm as possible during the cold winter months.

PART 1: ASK

For this segment of the assignment, I chose to interview three individuals from varying backgrounds in an attempt to vary my responses. I selected a younger female student, an older male professional, and an employee of a store at the mall that sold scarves. The store employee was to serve as my "subject matter expert" in this space. I asked them the following core questions as a base for my research:

1. What are the main reasons you use this product?
2. What are the most enjoyable benefits of using this product?
3. What are some common problems or issues that arise when using this product?
4. What factors come into play when choosing which products to buy in this space?
5. What types of improvements would you suggest to innovate this product in general?

Based on the responses to these questions, I made a list of notes that would serve as a thinking space to build upon ideas for innovation. My notes included the following major observations:

  • Scarves are a big statement piece in the accessory world and many people choose to buy them based on their aesthetic designs
  • Many scarves that are sold aren't considered to be very functional (i.e. sold more for style than for keeping you warm)
  • Storage of scarves is a common issue and it can be difficult to store them in a way that allows the user to view their collection in its entirety (i.e. they often end up stuffed in a ball or in a box somewhere)
  • A common problem when wearing scarves is when they get caught in a coat/jacket zipper
  • Scarves seem to be a more feminine accessory and trend
  • Many people like to wear a scarf to keep warm in cold weather, but prefer to continue wearing it inside to limit the amount of dressing/undressing they need to do when moving between indoors and outdoors
  • Scarves can be difficult to tie if they are too bulky
  • Bulky scarves are the warmest, but tend to get in the way when engaging in outdoor activities

A few of the problem statements I came up with were:

"Becca needs a way to store her large collection of scarves because when they are stuffed into a box or closet she has a hard time sorting them and often forgets which styles she owns."

"Tom needs a way to wear scarves that is more unique to his style because he feels as though most scarves on the market are feminine."

PART 2: OBSERVE

This part of the assignment was somewhat difficult because it isn't very cold out yet (or at least nowhere near as cold as it's going to get, am I right?!). Thus, many of the product users I observed when walking around the mall this past weekend were wearing scarves as more of a style piece than for full functionality and protection from cold weather. A few observations I made during this visit are listed below.

  • The majority of people wearing scarves appeared to be using the product purely as an accessory. I even asked one woman if she was cold (trying not to be offensive, of course). She laughed and said no, but mentioned that if she takes a scarf off right when she gets indoors her neck will be cold and therefore likes to keep wearing it.
  • The styles of scarves are endless. And I mean ENDLESS. One store alone had over 30 different patterns of scarves! However, most scarves had two things in common. They were either rectangular or square in shape, and tended to be made out of lightweight and cheaper looking materials.
  • Infinity scarves -- or scarves that are made into a loop so the user doesn't have to wrap it themselves -- are a relatively newer trend in the space.
  • The storage of scarves in store displays used horizontal bars to display them to potential buyers.
  • The price range for this product was very wide and tended to depend on the quality of the material.

PART 3: EXPERIENCE

The last part of this assignment asked us to take notes and make observations on our own personal experiences with the sub-theme or product. Like I said before, this was easy for me, since I am a self-proclaimed scarf addict. I made some observations and took some photos of my own scarf collection and how I store them.

One thing I did notice is that I don't own many scarves that are actually warm, which is pretty silly. During the dead of winter, a stylish scarf just isn't going to cut it. Of those that I do own that I would consider truly "winter" scarves, they are warm but way too bulky. In fact, I tend not to wear them because they get in the way when I wear them and I'm trying to do anything even kind of active with my arms, etc. Most of my collection are what I would call accessory scarves, which aren't very functional in keeping me warm but look goooood. ;)

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Another thing I noted (and that I have been painfully aware of previous to this assignment) is that storing scarves is annoying at best. Personally I tend to stuff them in a crate to keep them out of sight. When I thought about this a little more I remembered how a friend of mine stores her scarf collection and literally laughed out loud. She must have a hundred scarves hanging on a huge coat rack in the corner of her room. She has told me in the past that the coat rack frequently falls over from being too heavy, but she doesn't have a better way of storing them so she just adjusts it until the next time she throws one on top. (I hoped to get a picture of the rack for this post, but I figured it would be a little weird to call my friend at almost midnight asking for a photo of her scarf collection... so maybe later.)

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Assignment #2: Mind Mapping & Silly Ideas

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PROMPT

"Before idea generation, watch a funny movie, practice an improvisation warm-up game with friends, play a new board game, etc. Spend some time creating a mind map of the project theme area "winter". In addition to creating a mind map, you should experiment with tools such as association mapping and crossing products to come up with a 10 silly product ideas related to the theme. These ideas should be sketched in your design notebook and then cleanly digitized or recreated for the blog. Each idea should be a separate image file no smaller than 500 pixels wide at 72 dpi in the landscape orientation. The ideas should be presented as a sketch with a title.

GETTING STARTED

For this assignment I started doing an activity to get the creativity juices flowing. Arrested Development is one of my favorite shows, so I decided to watch a few episodes. I also played a round of the game "Clue", which is my roommate's favorite game and therefore wasn't difficult to find a playing partner.

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Image Source: http://www.tubefilter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/arrested-development-600x369.jpg

Image Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-tSlNq7KFA3s/TkGP-YGb-KI/AAAAAAAAA_w/tnh4wmK8mZE/s320/ga_board_clue1.jpg


MIND MAPPING

The next part of the assignment was to create a mind map for the theme category of "winter". This was pretty easy since winter will soon be upon us and there are many things to dread look forward to. I started drawing my mind map in my design notebook and this is what I came up with:

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The three sub-themes I decided to highlight for the next assignment are: hot chocolate, snow forts and scarves.

SILLY PRODUCT IDEAS

Finally, we were to take our mind map and from it, extract 10 different and silly product ideas. For me, this was more difficult than I expected it to be. It was hard to turn off "reason" and be as silly as possible with the ideas. But alas, I finished 10, and included the images below.

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I'm looking forward to seeing what other people come up with! It's sometimes surprising how different mind maps can turn out because of people's different experiences or associations with a general theme.

Assignment #1: Creative Experimentation (with Cookies!)

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PROMPT

"This is a playful exercise in applied creative thinking, which should touch on areas of experimentation, discovery, failure, and documenting process. Document your process with text and images including ideation, inspiration, mistakes, experimentation, testing, feedback, iteration, comparison (if applicable) and final recipe in both the design notebook and as the first blog entry. You should also evaluate what makes your cookie creative."

For this assignment we were to "reinvent" the cookie to try and come up with a new idea that is creative and innovative. Personally I was pretty excited to do this as a homework assignment because I love experimenting with food! This had a little different spin though, mostly because cookies are (generally) expected to be sweet and dessert-like. So, in an effort to make sure my cookies weren't totally gross, I started the brainstorming process by constraining the "sweet" theme and thinking about what types of cookies might be out there waiting to be discovered. I included a photo of my thought process, which was pretty much just an exercise in spit-balling ideas based on some of my favorite food combinations.

BRAINSTORMING

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From this initial brainstorm I settled on four different combinations I would try. The plan would be to make all four and choose the best to make for Tuesday's class "cookie day". The four that made the cut were:

Cranberry & Mashed Potato: This was a play on my favorite Thanksgiving dinner combo -- mixing my cranberries in my mashed potatoes, of course.

Beer, Pickles & Pretzel: One of my favorite pub snack combos is beer, pickles and pretzels. I figured there just had to be a way to make these into a cookie... stay tuned to see how it turned out.

Wine & Cheese: Again, one of my favorite combinations. Wine and cheese always go together so well, so I figured mixing them into cookie form was bound to be (at least somewhat?) successful.

Coconut Curry & Mint: This idea was based almost entirely on my roommates and their love of Thai food! Almost everyday I come home to a house that reeks (in a good way!) of curry. So, I just had to experiment and see if there was a way to make this awesome dish into a dessert-like treat.

TIME TO BAKE

After conducting an inventory of my kitchen (and a quick trip to the grocery store), I had the ingredients I needed to start baking.

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Like I do with many creative projects like this, I jumped right into the process and starting mixing ingredients. I decided to start with a more sweet base for the Cranberry & Mashed Potato, Wine & Cheese and Coconut Curry & Mint cookies. Using an excerpt from "Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking", I chose to use a modified version of the book's recipe for the "Classic Sugar Cookie".

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I knew I had to switch it up a bit for the Beer, Pickles & Pretzel cookie base since none of the main ingredients are very sweet in nature. I settled on a basic Martha Stewart recipe for cornmeal cookies to use as a base for this flavor.

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Before long, the mixtures were set and the cookie balls were rolled. I used parchment paper to get the least amount of stick to the pan, and set the oven to 375 degrees and popped them in (and kept my fingers crossed).

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Surprisingly, they held up really well! After about 12 minutes in the oven, I took them out to let them cool before taste testing began.

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TASTE TEST TIME

Now it was time to test each cookie to see how they turned out. I relied on my roommates (who were reluctant at first) to give me their unbiased opinions. The results are documented below!

Last Place: Beer, Pickles & Pretzel

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These cookies were.... interesting? That's probably the nicest way to put it. They were definitely much more savory than I thought they would be. I felt as though they could likely be improved with some more experimentation (different flavor beers, different relish recipes, etc), but since there were much better flavors that came out of this project I decided to focus my effort on those instead. Needless to say, I won't be baking with beer and pickles in the near future!

Third Place: Wine & Cheese

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Again, these were a bit... different. Although the wine flavor and Parmesan cheese definitely went together nicely, the cookies were a little strange with a strong wine after-taste. As it turns out, boozy cookies have a pretty weird effect. They might be better with a grape juice instead of a wine, which could have a similar effect to the "wine" flavor but without the strange liquor after-taste.

Second Place: Cranberry & Mashed Potato

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This flavor was a pretty close second. I feel as though with a little more thought on the potato incorporation (better mashing, higher potato ratio, etc) they could have been a bit better. But, the official taste testers thought they were pretty good overall!

First Place: Coconut Curry & Mint

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These were a hit! I had a feeling that the coconut would really complement the hot yellow curry well, and it did. In addition to mint and coconut extract, I included coconut flakes to add to the texture which made them a bit chewier, too. These will be the chosen flavor for cookie show and tell this week in class.

The project was a success because this flavor is novel, feasible and valuable! It meets all three characteristics of what makes something creative.

The final recipe:

Marin's Coconut Curry & Mint Cookies

1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 large egg (whisked)
2 tsp hot yellow curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp mint extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Coconut flakes
Melted chocolate (to drizzle, if desired)

Combine butter, sugar, egg and extracts and mix thoroughly using an electric mixer. Combine the remaining ingredients and fold into the dough, mixing well. (Refrigerate the dough if needed to make more firm before baking).

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are slightly brown on the edges. Drizzle with chocolate and additional coconut flakes if desired. Enjoy! :)

Test Entry

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Test entry for PDES 3701/5701 blog assignments.

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