Prototype testing at Karl Johan
A few weeks ago we opened a design lab in the middle of Karl Johans Gate in Oslo, with the parliament as its nearest neighbor. We decided to call it a design lab because we have built the office in our own shop. The cash register stands next to the designer who creates the product. Real interaction with the end user. Ideas from real people straight from the street. Our own ideas continuously tested with real people. "Why has not anyone done this before?" we thought. And now here we are with customers practically in our lap - a luxury we are a bit shocked to realize after just a few weeks.
Too many products have been pampered with for too long by ultra hip designers without the customers having been able to say their opinion whether there is a need for the product or not. Should the price be 299 or 499? Should the material of choice be bamboo or plastic? Should the color be this or that?…basically: are we onto something or not. Is there a life for this idea after leaving the drawing board as a first sketch. "Validation» as most startups would say.
In our own design lab, we can take an idea straight out into the stores and onto the streets after only a few hours on the sketch board. Our designers, who both work in the shop, on the drawing board and in the workshop, get feedback from a representative number of people in just one day. The day after we decide and adjust according to what our customers wish for - or we may decide not to proceed - perhaps the most important and most valuable effect of having office "on the street." It is very expensive to not stop a development process early enough. And this of course applies not only to industrial design but just as much to digital design and service design.
"Fast commercial prototyping» is mostly just an empty phrase in the consulting world. Everyone says they do, but very few do it as an integral part of daily life / business. We can honestly say that we do it. And it has only begun to dawn on us how far we can take this, how much effect it has on time-to-market and, not least, how much better we become as designers when the user is practically a part of every development sprint. Of course we also believe that people actually like to be involved in contributing to tomorrow's products.