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ID vs Build Environment: Do we ideate that differently?

Text: Joris Laenen & Karim Jaspers

Although build environment and industrial design can seem quite different on first sight, there are also a lot of similarities. To put it bluntly: designers follow a creative process to create a product or service, while architects follow a creative process to design buildings. Therefore, two students, industrial designer Joris Laenen, and architect Karim Jaspers, put each other to the test. Both students got half an hour to finish a design process from the other’s discipline, to see what the similarities and differences were in their creative process.

The challenges

Joris gave Karim a relevant industrial design challenge. As we all know, our generation has a huge amount of impulses and different choices to make. What do we want to get out of our career? How can we optimize our social life? What is the best Instagram filter? To solve this, Karim was supposed to design a product or system which helps the indecisive millennials to make important choices. 

Karim: “Instead of creating an interface, I decided to create a product with miniature rooms instead. As an architectural student, I am familiar with the way atmosphere and space can affect your mood or feelings about a story or topic. That is why, I wanted the user to be able to decorate their own rooms, one for each decision. After having put in several attributes which are important for that choice (e.g. money, family, nature), you can see which room feels most right for you. Perhaps, one room will be full of stuff, but none of it is of great significance to you. With this product, called Space of Choice, you can get a visual overview of each choice, based on atmosphere, instead of a list of facts.”

Joris got a totally different challenge. He was supposed to create a community center for the TU/e, with all sorts of different facilities. On top of that, it had to reflect the “image of the TU/e”. Important note: this image was not described.

Joris: “First I was a bit put off by all the requirements, but when I started designing, I noticed that I could easily apply my own design process to this challenge. I first looked at what the TU/e’s image was, or what they wanted it to be. From here, I figured that the building should have an innovative, multidisciplinary and intercultural character. Then, I thought of a few interiors which could reflect this. I created an entrance where the most impressive projects of every department were showcased. I thought of a multicultural canteen, and circular shaped meeting rooms made from glass, to represent the “open character”. In fact, I liked the circular shape so much, that I also created a circular exposition space, which could be easily removed or changed, based on what the community center would be used for. From here, a challenge arose, being that circles are not that practical for an efficient layout (the solution: make a circular building, but I was not so smart to think of that, the “jury” suggested it afterwards). This made me realise that my exterior was also very ugly. The shape was a rectangle with two other rectangles. I had to fit the toilets and storage somewhere. Also, I had no clue where to put the community center. After realising that wrecking Auditorium was no option, I concluded that the KOE-veld is overrated anyway. I was still proud that I thought of emergency exits, though.”

So what did we learn from this?

First thing to notice: both challenges went surprisingly well. While both students were a little uncomfortable in the beginning, they created their unique way in solving the problem. Joris focused more on the user of the building, and the wishes of the client. Many physical elements like exterior and location were an afterthought. Karim on the other hand, started very visually, and ended up with the user experience. Two different directions, but still similar outcomes. This shows that designers and architects can learn more from each other then we may realise.