Stimulate Creativity – open ended objects for brainstorming

Stimulate Creativity - open ended objects for brainstormingFast prototyping is a well-known approach to test new concepts through partial completion. “Fail often, fail early, fail cheap” is the rapid prototyping credo, as well as  “don’t fail fast , learn fast” .

But what if the prototype were not the transfer of a new concept, but a way to generate new concepts and creative ideas? That’s the path that Virginia Cruiz and Nicolas Gaudron, founders of design agency and innovation consultancy IDSL, have investigated and described in “Open-ended objects: a tool for brainstorming“.

Their creative idea consists in using stimulators, upstream of the prototype, to explore and make new ideas spark fly. Their bespoke stimulators are called open ended objects. As defined by Virginia and Nicolas in details, “Open-ended objects are open-ended interactive experiences that are used to introduce a brainstorming session. Their aim is to lead participants to reflect on emotions, human desires and make them forget about their expertise often centred on technical questions.”

Stimulative open ended objects unfold as follows:

  • The “suffer object” links a video with an interactive array of nails: press the nail and the blurred video gets in-focus. By pressing harder, it gets more painful, and the video gets perfectly clear. As soon as the pressure is released, the video blurrs again.Stimulate Creativity - open ended objects for brainstorming
  • “Stroke pleasure” is a box that starts purring when stroked a few times. The more it is stroked, the stronger the physical purr gets. When one stops stroking, the vibration gets softer and softer until it disappears.Stimulate Creativity - open ended objects for brainstorming
  • Kinetic is a paper sculpture completed for Readiymate, which acts as a connected objects, changing form when email or Facebook notifications arrive.


The use of stimulative objects opens the door to creative explorations through successive steps:

  • intellectual warming-up, spriritual awakening to initiate the workshop;
  • tangible translation of the innovation issue;
  • getting-out of the technical framework of reference, switching to emotional interaction, “pushing participants beyond their preconceived ideas and helping them to get out of their usual mindset”;
  • exploring avenues for new sensations, which can be unpleasant and opposing, though an interactive experience;
  • discover out of the box feelings expressed by connected objects.

These objects provide incomplete experiences, they are open to interpretation; open-ended objects are here for inspiration, not testing or probes;

The challenge is then to create appropriate stimulators linking to the innovation question: “Open ended objects are a tangible translation of the brainstorming brief to inspire participants beyond words.”

“The interaction modalities, the sensor technologies, the contexts of use to be explored, the type of applications to look for are thought of, processed and translated into the experience that open-ended objects propose, according to the workshop’s goals.”

Stimulate Creativity - open ended objects for brainstorming

Are you ready to stimulate, or to be stimulated?

Leveraging on open ended objects to trigger interactions and feedabacks actually induces new ideas and enables product handling, providing a framework for co-creation.

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future of TV - Leading by Innovating Nicolas is a senior VP at Orange Innovation Group. Forward thinker, he created international digital BU, with a focus on interactive, social and smart TV.  He graduated from Supélec and HEC Business School, completing a thesis on “Rapid Innovation” which he implemented successfully at Orange through “component innovation” path. He blogs at and tweets @nicobry

Nicolas Bry

Serial innovator, Nicolas has set up creative units for new business at Orange, Club-Internet, and SFR. Nicolas created crowd platform, Orange Studio for Intrapreneurs, and edits Open Innovation blog International speaker, entrepreneurs & startups coach, innovation teacher at Telecom ParisTech, HEC & CentraleSupélec, and freelance consultant (ECC). Follow him at @nicobry.




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