How to come up with a project idea?

There are various methodologies that I frequently use in my lessons, that help students to develop ideas for a project theme. Some methods have a more analytical approach, and some are based on direct intervention and experiments.

Research current Topics
The most obvious source of inspiration can be the newspaper. Search for current topics (science, culture, politics, biology, media…).Print them out and hang them on the wall.
Ask yourself a question – How can you as a designer contribute to these topics?

Deconstruction of a material
Collect materials and/or objects. Select one, and deconstruct it. What is it? How is it made? What materials is it made of? What function does it have? What can it do? Discover its materiality and function.
Next, construct a new image, give a new function and meaning to the object or material.

Take a walk
It sounds very simple. Take a walk and look around. Everything what you see and what you find could be an inspiration for a project.

Collect inspiration and place it in a bigger context. The context is a network, a what-if question, or material and functions of an object.

Future Wheel
Step 1: Based on a current topic (see paragraph “current topics”), formulate a “what if?” question.
Write the “what if?” question in the middle of a sheet of paper.

Step 2: Identify direct consequences. Brainstorm possible direct consequences of the question. Write each consequence in a circle and connect it from the central question with an arrow (chart – red circles).

Step 3: Identify indirect consequences of the consequences. Brainstorm all possible indirect consequences of the consequences you wrote down in step 2 (chart – light blue circles).

Step 4: Analyze the consequences and formulate a design question.

Place your finding in a network.
Placing your finding in a network (for example network of people inhabiting one city district, or a network of plants in a forest, or a network of bicycle delivery services, …) will help you to discover and research possibilities.

Think about a network that could be part of your finding. Describe and visualise as many elements as possible within this network. Which people and places are part of this network? Who are the main human and non-human (fauna, flora) actors? What are the regulations and laws within this network?

Ask yourself a question – how could you as a designer contribute to this network?