Idea Wall


It is an idea generation tool around complex and abstract issues. Through simple visualisation, it allows groups to create a common understanding of the multiple dimensions and visions around a large issue, notion or subject. It facilitates the analysis of a subject, that is, breaking it down in its smaller components and making the connections among them.

The Idea Wall was created by the students of the Sustainable cities Design Lab Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique and it has been tested at the International Creative Jams Idea Wall Gijon

Its simplicity makes it a very flexible and powerful tool that can be adapted to different groups, themes but also stages of a creative process.

When is it useful?

It is a very useful tool when starting a creative process around complex subjects that embrace multiple notions, stakes and visions. It is a very good way to put out, clarify and enrich participants' vision on the subject.

The idea wall can be filled in with more elements as the creative process evolves. In this way, the participants can use it as a reminder of the key elements to take into account and also to keep track of the evolution of their ideas.

It also works great as an icebreaking activity before delving into a prospective or very hands-on creative process.


Although it can be used individually, it is a very powerful collective tool. Working teams in between 4 & 6 participants are ideal. At the Gijon Creative jam 2019, 10 teams of 6 participants worked simultaneously to create a big idea wall.

Time & Materials

Preparation time: 2 hours (mainly to print a series of images related to the subject to be addressed)

Development time: in between 20 and 30 mins

Materials needed:

  • markers,
  • post-its,
  • a large vertical surface where to post the different ideas,
  • inspiration cards: at least 5 printed images per participant. These images are related to the subject and will facilitate the exchanges
  • strings (optional)

Step by Step

This is an outline of the Idea Wall as it was conceived for the Creative Jam Gijon. Consider the following as guidelines that can be modified and adapted to the needs of your particular process.

STEP 01: Spread out the “inspiration cards” on the table

STEP 02: Each group member chooses an inspiring image representative of today’s city life

STEP 03: Individually, each group member writes down quickly on a post-it a word or phrase that synthesizes the meaning of the image

STEP 04: Each group member shows to the rest of the group their image & word and explains the reasons why they chose their image & word. As they explain they stick the image & word on the wall

During the creativity workshop ideas will be produced in the form of drawings, stories, mocks ups, that can be stick into the idea wall or kept aside in order to place them later. The idea is to saturate the wall as much as possible with a number of images and ideas

STEP 05: Once the Idea Wall is saturated, the participants will group the different elements (images, drawings, phrases, keywords..) by affinity. If the idea wall is big, it can be split into sections and the grouping can be done by small groups, each group would work on a section.

STEP 06: As the different themes or groups of ideas emerge, give a #name to each one of them by answering the question: what does this group of ideas make reference to?

STEP 07: If different teams worked on different sections of the idea wall, each team is going to present to the rest of the group the themes they identified.

STEP 08: As a whole group, make the connections among the themes and link them with strings, or simply draw a line linking them.

STEP 09 As a team, you can now choose to work on one particular idea or theme…


  • Any idea counts, sharing what you think is key for filling the idea wall. Make sure your idea is quickly put on the wall, so everyone in the team can see it.
  • Built on other participant's ideas
  • Not all the group members will agree at all times, it is in the diversity of perspectives that we find richness, just make sure everyone has the chance to express themselves
  • The idea wall can only grow through live exchanges, it is a good sign if everyone wants to talk at the same time!. It is only a matter of letting everyone express themselves