[Translate to Englisch:] Variabler Raum Design Thinking

Variable Space

Ideas unfold best in a free and flexible working environment where all team members can work together at eye level. In order to support agile teamwork and the application of Design Thinking, we need open spaces with flexible, moveable furniture, space for whiteboards and presentation surfaces as well as materials for prototyping ideas.


When the HPI School of Design Thinking was founded in 2007, there was no suitable furniture on the market to create these innovation spaces. Therefore, the HPI D-School developed the Design Thinking LineĀ® in cooperation with Berlin-based furniture manufacturer System 180


The tables, boards and storage solutions of this furniture are multifunctional and can be easily moved around the room on castors. The furniture was soon used not only in the HPI D-School but also by companies such as Bosch, Deutsche Bank and SAP or institutions such as the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

 Design Thinking Work Spaces
Design Thinking Work Spaces (Graphic: System 180)

Design Thinking Work Spaces


The Design Thinking room at the HPI D-School is divided into different areas that fulfill different functions for innovative teamwork. In our open "Studio Spaces", up to eight teams work side by side to learn from each other throughout the process. In this way we promote a collaborative "we culture" among the students instead of a competitive mindset.


Our rooms are divided into the following work spaces:


Team Space


Each Design Thinking team gets its own team space consisting of a high table, two whiteboards and stools. This space is the basis for creative teamwork and can be individually designed by each team. In the Team Space, team members and their coaches come together to work on their project, develop ideas, visualize and document their findings using a variety of Design Thinking methods. The openness of the Studio Space and the proximity to the areas of the other teams encourage creative exchange during the Design Thinking process.


Share Space


In the Share Space all teams come together to exchange project ideas, learn together and give each other feedback. In the Share Space, our program managers and coaches give short presentations on the different phases and innovation methods in the Design Thinking process. The teams then apply the new knowledge directly in their project work.


Network Space


Our Network Space has an inviting lounge atmosphere with drinks and music. During the breaks and at events, our students and project partners can relax and network. In addition, our Design Thinking teams also use this space to start teamwork together and to reflect on the workshop day (check-in and check-out).


Make Space


For the prototyping phase of the Design Thinking process our teams can use the Make Space. There they will find various materials with which they can build their ideas and make them tangible. Here, the teams can produce first analog prototypes from the simplest materials such as paper, cardboard and Lego. But the Make Space also offers the possibility to develop larger models made of wood or foam or refined prototypes with 3D printing and other digital tools.


Video: The physical team space



Design Thinking in the virtual space


In the summer semester 2020, the Corona pandemic also presented us with the challenge of moving our programs into virtual space. Thanks to our team's flexible Design Thinking mindset, we quickly developed and iterated prototypes for learning formats in the virtual space together. To create an inspiring, creative and safe learning environment there as well, we use a combination of different digital tools.


For video communication we use the Zoom software. We have licenses that allow us to hold large rounds of plenary sessions and work together in smaller teams in so-called "breakout rooms".


As a replacement for the physical information room we work with the platform Miro. This enables very simple and intuitive collaboration with post-its, photos, text and graphics in real time, just like on a whiteboard.


As a learning platform we use HPI's own openHPI platform, which has been in use for years and is currently also used by the WHO for corona training as a learning environment.


With this combination of tools, we can recreate the Team Space, Share Space, Network Space and Make Space in a virtual environment.


Design Thinking physical, virtual and hybrid


From the virtual to a hybrid learning environment


Since the summer semester 2020, we also have been further developing the Design Thinking spaces at the HPI D-School. In the process, we created the following new space concepts:


Media spaces: for recording videos and podcasts


Digital coaching spaces: for coaching virtual teams


Hybrid team spaces: for collaboration with teams that are partly on-site and partly join virtually from individual workplaces


Over the next few months, we especially want to continue experimenting with a hybrid learning environment for our Design Thinking teams. "Hybrid "for us means that spatial concepts not only work in an analog or virtual space, but in both at the same time. In this context, one team can be on-site at the HPI D-School premises, while the other part of the team can participate in the joint project work in the virtual space.


Video: Designing hybrid environments for collaborative learning




To make this possible, we are currently working with System 180 to develop a prototype for a special hybrid team space that compile the necessary technical equipment for collaboration. The main challenge is to enable collaboration between virtual and analog team members on an equal footing.


In addition to the hybrid team workspace, our Design Thinking coaches and program managers also need special technical equipment to support agile teams online.


The main focus for all prototypes is the sensible integration of monitors, 360-degree cameras, microphones, lighting and speakers in the room setting. The aim is not only to create a perfect collaborative usage situation, but also to maintain a sense of togetherness: all participants are part of a whole - regardless of which room they are in.


Learn more about the process of developing a hybrid Design Thinking Line with System 180 in this Architonic article.


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