January 07, 2011

Attribute Method

This entry is based on the request by Arunima. Thanks for the great idea!

Did you generate a long list of ideas? If you did, then you might be aware of this method. It is called formally know as ‘Attribute List’ method, and is commonly used as aid to creativity. If you observe any such long list of ideas, like my 101 uses of CRT or 101 uses of a CD, you will find that most ideas use a certain property of the object. For example, making jewelry from CD makes use of the shininess of the CD. This same attribute can be used for many other uses like, mirror, a reflector, sun catcher, etc. It is observed that if the properties of an object are listed, it allows a better flow of ideas. Let’s discuss the steps for using this method.

How to use the Attribute Method

1. Start listing the different properties of the object. This list is called attribute list.
2. Try to think about more unusual properties. For example, a pencil floats on water is an unusual property of the pencil.
3. Now think about the possible uses of these properties. For example, the pencil floats on water, so we can make a raft out of sufficient number of pencils.
4. Counter-list the ideas. You may think about more attributes from the ideas you have generated. For example, the raft made of pencils of different colours can be colourful. So, ‘vivid colours’ is another attribute of pencil.
5. Keep on listing ideas and keep updating the list simultaneously. Remember that the attributes listed are also ideas.

Though I have written steps, it is not a hard and fast rule to follow them. Feel free to experiments. You can also try to draw a network of ideas, perhaps linking the ideas to attributes and vice versa.

Where to use
•    Fast generation of large number of ideas centered on a product
•    Attribute listing is a great technique for ensuring all possible aspects of a problem have been examined
•    Attribute listing is breaking the problem down into smaller and smaller bits and seeing what you discover when you do
•    Best suited for object based problems
•    Rational approach and solution can be back tracked to the original idea
•    Excellent tool for use in teams as well as alone
•    Can be used in combination with tools like brainstorming

Where to be careful
•    Certain attributes can be overlooked, so one should be careful
•    Careful note taking is needed, otherwise mistakes can occur
•    Logical approach can tax the brain and can become boring

Fun exercises to challenge you
•    List your own attributes and try to think what will be a good business ideas to suite your them.
•    Using the attributes of a crowd, try to think ways of reducing crowds on the road or in public transport systems
•    Choose some simple product like pencil, a piece of paper or comb. Challenge yourself to generate 20 ideas for its alternate uses in two minutes
•    Choose some simple product and list its attributes.
Choose another product and use its attributes to improve the first. For example, first product is ‘comb’, second is ‘nail’. Comb has attribute ‘used on hair’. Nail has attribute ‘stays in place’. So device a comb that will stay in hair after combing is done.
•    Try to combine two attributes into one and think how this will change the design of the product.
•    Try an exercise in non-obvious. Take a simple product and think about 10 attributes of the object no one has ever thought!

Have fun :)

Examples of attribute method:
101 uses of old CD
101 uses of old CRT monitor


arunima said...

hey thanks a lot for the help PG..attribute method makes me more confident in approaching q's that involves creativity..thanks for being the awesome person that u are.. way to go!

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Thank you arunima. Nice to hear that u found it useful. There r many other simple methods. I'll discus them shortly :)
Take care

Nawaal said...

this really helped lot.. thank you
waiting for the other simple method too...

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Nawaal,
I was not planning to write about any other method, because i really find Attribute Method capable of solving about 90% problems. But i guess, i'd start focusing upon the rest 10% now ;)

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

I have posted one more simple method here

Anish Kumar said...

Hey Prasanna,
I was trying CEED 2011 paper, in creativity section, there was a question ..
suppose there are 2 hemispheres, 2 cylinders , 2 wires & 2 cubes. Now make 5 interesting products made out of combination of all 8 objects.
I tried attribute method, but couldn't think of any.
Can you please help me on this one .

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Anish,
Attribute method can be used for “draw 5 objects using the given shapes”. First critically evaluate the attributes of the objects given and their combinations. Like, two hemisphere can form a sphere or a wire can assume any shape. Then start by thinking of usefulness of this form. For example, the sphere can form a globe and wires form the support, thus you have a model of earth.
Another example, the two cylinders have circular surface, that can form wheels of bike and wires can form the frame. use the cubes for seats and the hemisphere for headlight and fuel tank.

What do u think?

Anish Kumar said...

Thanks. But i guess each product should be a combo of all shapes ? Or i am wrongly reading question .

I have just started to practice for CEED, so not able to think right now.

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

yup, the solution should use all the shapes. Maybe you can think about how to use various shapes.

Anish Kumar said...

Hey Prasanna Sir,
can you tell me what is the difference between interaction design,industrial design,graphic design ?
I design UI for web apps & mobile apps & also make logo's . So this is interaction design ?
Am i right ?
And one more doubt, i am also trying to learn video making ( product demo videos ) using some cartoon characters .
What does this known as ? Graphic designing or interaction design ?

Can you please clear out clouds on this, because i used to just do things without even knowing to what domain it belongs . But i think since now i am preparing for CEED, i need to have knowledge on all this .

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Anish,
Industrial design deals creating new usable products and improving the existing ones. Interaction design deals in how man and some product will work together. Graphic design, comes under a branch called visual communication. Visual communication deals with conveying information using graphical media. When only static media is used, it is often called graphic design (logo design comes under this). If the graphics are moving, it comes under animation and multimedia. Videos and animation come under this. Making product demo videos comes under visual communication in general, and, specifically under animation
Hope that ur doubt was solved

Anish Kumar said...

thank you sir ! that is very well explained .

Mitali Bhasin said...

alright thanks a ton!

Arunava said...

Hello Sir, I am planning to try the visual communication part during CEED and thats why i have a query. They instruct to generate 3 alternate concepts and 1 final concept keeping in mind certain parameters.Now my specific question is, should the final concept be a mixture of the 3 alternate concepts or can i make it an independent piece??.Thanks in advance..Arunava

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Arunava.

Good question you asked.

The final question can be a combination of two or all of the concepts, but it should show the examiner that you have developed it from the previous 3 concepts. For example, in the question of Dengu Mosquito, you can have concept of the mosquito as a vamp, a female terrorist and a daku, but your last concept can be that of goddess of death, with some derivation from previous 3 concepts

Grishma said...

We can use it as a big dustbin kept on the road... (by merging gaps) it will saves plastic :)

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

good idea Grishma :)

aishwarya pargaonkar said...

hello sir,
I am in my final year of engineering.I always wanted to pursue a career in designing and I came across CEED.I applied immediately but with very little time to prepare I am really nervous.Is 2 months enough time to prepare for CEED? Also,may i have you email id as I would like you to evaluate my answers and ideas and guide me.Thank you :)

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Aishwarya,
Thanks for dropping by.
I recommend you to start with CEED 2011 paper, as it is the easiest.
You can write to me on pg2005.pg@gmail.com. My other details can be found in the links below my photograph. Its in upper right hand corner of the page

meet upadhyay said...

Thanks a lot sir for my previous question.actually I m going to prepare for nid ug
So will u plz help me how to prepare for entrance.

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hi Meet,
I have never appeared for NID so i really cant guide you for the entrance test of NID, but since the paatern of NID and IITs is similar i can guide you in making of portfolio and in interview preparations.

Himanshu Singh said...

sir you are a genious

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

hi Himanshu,
I did not invent this method, i just found it quite useful for CEED, so i am presenting it here, so i can hardly be called genius for writing this post :)

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kartik gupta said...

sir, can you explain different views in drawing of a product, for eg.-exploded view...............
i could not find anywhere

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hi Kartik,
Did you have a look at this post?
It will help you :)

Praveen Dewangan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Salil Hegiste said...


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