VIVITA Design Sprint — cracking open the designer’s toolbox

VIVITA Design Sprint is a two-day workshop series organized for all newly joined members at Vivistop. At a sped-up pace, the participants have an opportunity to become more conscious of the stages of the design thinking process while getting engaged with present-day burning issues. They learn how to define and reframe problems, generate many ideas, work in teams, prototype and present their solutions.

Similarly to the last Design Sprint workshop where we drew inspiration from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, this time we selected the objective of responsible production and consumption (Goal 12) as a starting point. In order to sharpen their senses and have them observe how the issues related to excess waste touch upon their everyday life, the children were given a home assignment. Apart from some questions to guide their research on pollution and human behaviours that affect the environment, they were asked to collect waste during the week prior to the workshop. Later on, the pile of collected waste served not only as visual trigger and inspiration, but also as a source of materials for the prototyping stage.

Day 1 kicked off with a short presentation by the renowned chef Peeter Pihel, leading the culinary program at Fotografiska, who inspired the children with his zero-waste kitchen concept and examples of sustainable purchasing and recycling food waste. This encounter with a real-life project illustrates well that design thinking is crucial to creating context and fueling the creative process. Using it as a case study and bringing in more examples, we were able to discuss the children’s ideas on creativity and different approaches to addressing problems in the real world, such as from an artist’s or a designer’s perspective.

We then moved onto mapping their thoughts and observations based on the homework done prior to the workshop and with the help of the ship visualization. We identified both perceived challenges in managing waste and visions for an ideal waste-free future. Recurrent topics raised were water pollution, climate change, and animal extinction. At this point, the children were split into teams and could choose the topic they wished to work with further.

Kids had to define the problem as a question, consider why and for whom a solution is needed and what it would feel like if the problem were solved. In the next ideation phase, we used the “Crazy 8” brainstorming tool again in order for them to generate many ideas beyond the obvious and the already existing. They mainly needed guidance in formulating their ideas as possible solutions and not simply as DO NOT rules. The day ended with each team choosing their top 3 ideas and visualizing them.

Naturally, children seemed to be most fond of their own ideas. Based on previous experiences, while encouraging it, we did not specifically require collaboration and development of common ideas within the teams, so everyone could prototype individually and this is how Day 2 set off.

The initial limitation of working with their chosen waste materials proved helpful in the creative process. They were then free to use any other materials and tools available which got them very excited! They were also free to interact and help each other improve their ideas. They came up with many solutions, among which video and satellite monitoring systems to track for waste dumping, reusable bags for a packaging-free shopping experience, public events to promote waste clean-up, plastic recycling machinery, smart trash bins that collect and recycle waste or even help change people’s behavior.

Certainly among the highlights of Day 2 were the video presentations we made with the participants once their prototypes were ready. This was a great way to end the day and enjoy together the results of this intensive workshop. We were impressed to hear them explain why the issue they chose to solve was important to them and what the larger implications of their designs were. Even if the process we guided them through was challenging at times, they really appreciated the new learnings and were excited to put those into practice in their own projects in the future.

We also had some valuable takeaways on how to improve the learning experience for the children and cannot wait till the next round!