Pretotypes and prototypes

By David Kester

Why is prototyping so important and how does it fit in to the design thinkers tool kit? In this short read David Kester looks at some recent projects he has observed and been involved in and shows how invaluable it is to get prototyping early and then keep iterating to build your minimum viable product (MVP). From a floating school to a sexual health service the prototype proves key to de-risking projects.

Prototyping in design is often much misunderstood.

A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure to interview the Nigerian architect, Kunle Adeyeme. He is a deeply thoughtful, talented and hugely experienced architect tutored under the great Rem Koolhas at OMA and now running his own highly successful practice NLE in Holland. One of his areas of research and investigation has been in the field of amphibious buildings.

Just before our interview on stage at What Design Can Do, two interesting things happened: Kunle was awarded a Silver Lion for his new design for a floating school at the Venice Biennale. The original prototype that he built with the local Nigerian community in Makoko was destroyed in a storm. The fact that it had always been conceived as a prototype and had been a wonderfully successful living experiment was completely missed in the media.

Kunle Adeyeme’s original prototype Floating School on the left and the developed scale sconecpt at the Venice Biennale.

Prototypes and what some call “pretotypes” (very early concepts for user testing) are the vital stock-in-trade of a design thinker.

Want to read more about pretotypes? Head over to our blog.

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