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Flowmaker is an inspirational tool for designers, created by the WeMake design studio -  It takes the form of a pack of 54 cards, broken into 5 suits Instinct, Personality, Ageing Play and Potential.

Instinct explores ‘Design to fulfil needs’

Focusing on: Feed, Fight, Flight, Nest, Philosophise, Sex, Social – Family, Social – Friends, Social – Partner

Personality explores ‘Design for others’

Focusing on: Active – Receptive, Daring – Cautious, Language – Numbers, Solo Player – Team player, Specialist – Generalist, Traditionalist – Futurist

Ageing explores ‘Design for our future selves’

We can make mass manufactured products and public projects easier to use by designing to include those who are less able but we can also look at making things harder to use, offering up challenges that promote exercise to maintain healthy function into later life.

Focusing on: Eyesight, Fine Motor, Flexibility, Gross Motor, Hearing, Learning, Memory, Smell / Taste, Speed, Strength

Play explores ‘Design for joy and interaction’

Designing interactions that absorb us and elevate our emotions can lead to more engaging, enjoyable user experiences and help promote mental, social and physical fitness.

Reflecting on: Chance, Copying, Discovery, Head Spin, Head to Head, Self-expression

Potential explores ‘Design for sustainability’

Making the most of the elements used, the people involved, and the context in which the project sits in order to extend the material and experiential possibilities in this and future lives of the design.

Reflecting on: Adapt, Customise, Cycle, Dematerialise, Empower, Locate, Maximise, Meaning, Mend, Self-make, Upgrade

The Flowmaker cards can be used in a variety of different ways to enhance the design process, for example:

  1. Random brief - Pick up a handful [one of each colour] to set out a scenario to design for.  
  2. Defining briefs - Select cards to reflect, probe or tighten a brief.
  3. User profile - Select cards to define a user profile [to design for or market to].
  4. Random word - Pick a card at random to help when a brainstorm stalls.
  5. Group brainstorms - Share with colleagues, deal cards to encourage participants look at an issue from a different angle.
  6. Evaluating projects - Check against the cards suit by suit to analyse an existing design.
  7. Make up your own rules…

Flowmaker is intended as a tool to stimulate and inspire designers of all levels.  It is not a prescriptive methodology, rather it is an open-ended, multipurpose, adaptable aid to support and extend design processes.

Flowmaker is designed as an open format pack of cards with only a few pointers for use.  WEmake believe in the creativity of Flowmaker’s users and supply just enough information to get them started.

WEmake use Flowmaker as a tool to help shape and inspire creativity sessions with corporate clients and in educational settings, as well as using the cards in their design consultancy work and self-initiated projects.

  • Flowmaker is an invaluable tool at all stages of design - to stimulate, inform, remind, nudge, jog, probe, challenge and inspire.

  • Looking at personality type polarities helps us to put our own inclinations to one side and acknowledge different mental attitudes and behaviours.

  • Understanding what motivates and putting the users’ needs at the centre of a design process helps make a design relevant and easy to integrate into a user’s life.

Added by V.Lofthouse in January 2005

Images used with kind permission of WeMake