Prototype Development

Designing for the Apocalypse

August 13, 2014

Here at Design Concepts, you’ll sometimes hear the term “co-creation” used on a project. Typically it’s used to refer to a kind of brainstorming activity we undertake with design research participants where we brainstorm together with them, our “users,” to co-create solutions for their needs.

But in fact, we’re co-creating all the time, side by side with our clients. The names we give some of our milestone meetings —“Co-Analysis,” “Co-Synthesis”— attest to this co-creative process. While we are the consultants, our process typically and preferably involves our clients every step of the way.

A few months ago, I was able to experience co-creation from the client side of things. Along with my partner and two good friends, I signed up for a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE workshop offered by Ric Furrer at Door County Forgeworks. The idea of the workshop is for each participant to design something for the zombie apocalypse and to build it from scratch with Ric over the course of two days. The workshop is open to people with zero experience in a blacksmith’s forge. It’s pretty brilliant, really, because you can design the craziest thing, try to build it, and if it doesn’t quite look right in the end, well…you still have something that you made from scratch that could possibly one day save your life when the zombies come. So it’s guaranteed to be awesome. Plus Ric is a master at his craft. We all came out of two 12-hour days in the shop with our very own forged pieces, all with working (read: SHARP!) edges on them.

We started with rough designs, which we sent ahead to Ric so he could prep the materials we would need. I wavered between designing something that would actually be useful for dispatching zombies and something that might see more use. I opted for “practical” in the end and went with a hatchet:I tried to keep it simple, since I had no idea how or whether I was actually going to be able to make it.

We all went home with our zombie apocalypse implements in hand, feeling ready for anything.

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