Searching design patterns, or meaningful visual structure, is a significant learning experience and creative outcome of prototyping.

The Dual Actions


  • Brian Lee Hong Kong Polytechnic University





prototyping, constructionism, dual coding theory, analytical-synthetic action


Reflecting upon the constructionist model "learning-bymaking," prototyping (prototype making) as a product design and research approach is well recognised for assured development of innovative concepts in individual or collaborative working environments. A prototype is typically used as a tool to support experiments or interventions and to evaluate research goals. It also facilitates participatory design and user-centred design. However, it carries both coded and tacit knowledge that we, design educators and practitioners, find problematic to explain and instruct, particularly to non-designers. This paper amalgamates and argues the characteristics of prototyping including types, formats, and principles through literature review. Reflecting upon the designer’s intentions and the dual coding cognitive learning process, the author proposes a descriptive model that illustrates the dual actions experienced by the designer which can enable study on the improvement of the prototyping process.

How to Cite

Lee, B. (2020). Prototyping: The Dual Actions. Cubic Journal, 3(3), 54–73.



Author Biography

Brian Lee, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Brian Lee, faculty member of School of Design and co-leader of Asian Lifestyle Design Lab of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, teaches and carries out research in product design and social design disciplines. His specific expertise is in ageing & healthcare product and service design, sustainable lifestyle and consumption analysis, and co-creation with multidisciplinary approach. His current work explores the intersection between socio-materiality and design practice, and research to address prototyping process development. He examines design hypotheses in the context of social, economic, and technological matters, artisanal practice, new production methods, and consumption practices. He demonstrates significant participation in understanding the role of artefacts and systems in response to the betterment of quality of life, empowerment of communities, and the promotion of sustainable living through prototyping and other creative engagement tools with stakeholders.


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