The end of July marks the half way point of my year at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction design. The pace has been intense and relentless. In a very short amount of time, we have completed at least fifteen different design projects with more than a dozen instructors. We barely have a moment to digest before marching on to the next challenging problem. This is why we have midterm reviews to reflect on the successes and the failures.

Here is a summary of four learnings from the last six months taken from my midterm presentation.

01 — I am learning to work in a team

One of the most valuable…


How I felt in week 1 dealing with the ambiguity of deciding on a topic

CIID Final Project Week 1

So it begins. This week we kicked off the 10-week individual final projects at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. The sudden switch from group work to individual work is daunting and exciting. Here I am, the captain of my own project, steering myself into the foggy unknown.

My project criteria

First, I spent time this week to identify criteria to guide the shape of my final project. I am interested in:

  • making playful enchanted objects
  • making a working prototype
  • small human interactions rather than large system

I am also thinking about these technologies:

  • Amazon Mechanical Turk
  • AR/VR
  • Generative Design
  • RFID

What am I interested in?

In some…


How I iterated the interactions of a grid-based journaling app

During the Rapid Prototyping course at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, I used Origami Studio by Facebook Design to prototype high fidelity microinteractions of a grid-based journaling app.

Prototyping a Journaling App

My inspiration came from the 100 Blocks Day post on the blog Wait But Why. An average 16 hour day can be divided into one hundred ten minute blocks. A day’s activities can be visualize spatially by filling out the blocks. For example, an one hour at lunch is equal to six blocks.


How I make videos for my design projects using The CPH Way

Filmmaking is an important tool in my toolbox to prototype and explain design concepts to peers, clients, and the public. Most design students make videos for their projects. However, the style and execution vary greatly. Compared to cinematic movies, there are no clear guidelines or best practices on how to make a video for student projects.

As a part of the storytelling and film making course at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design with Taylor Hamilton and Derek Jennings, I learned 10 rules to guide me as I continue to make videos for the future. We call these rules the…


My 2017 reading list to supplement my design education

One of the most impactful design books on my design education is Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby’s Speculative Everything. My paradigms about the nature and function of design shifted as a direct result of reading Speculative Everything. I used to think that the only function of design is to create useful solutions. However, Speculative Everything showed me how design can also engage people in critical conversations.

This year, I have set a goal for myself to read two to three books a month. As design challenges become more systemic and complex, I believe designers need to have a generalist knowledge…


Learn to steal colors like an artist

As designers, building a solid color palette is important when creating impressive visual designs. What if you can build a color palette from any inspiration photo? I recently learned a technique from Joshua Davis’s Computer Generated Graphics I course on Skillshare where I can build my own color palette from any photo. I will teach you how to extract colors using Photoshop and introuce the Color Picking Tool that will export hex codes. (Check out Computer Generated Graphics I if you are interested in making art with computers. It is informative and easy to follow course. )

Let’s get started!

1. Find a photo


After the week 1 autonomous vehicle project, we are itching to finally start the Industrial Design Intense course. Our first project is to build computer mice models out of low density polyethylene foam. The goal of the project is for us to familarize ourselves with the workshop and rapid prototyping techniques.

Lars, the Instructor of the course showing a foam model mouse

First, we are asked to sketch out a top view, side view, and perspective view of a mouse within 20 minutes. Then, we went down to the workshop to work on the model. The initial sketch is only a launching point. Physically prototyping the sketch will allow further ideation…

James Zhou

Interaction Designer at IDEO | www.jamesxzhou.com

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