Method overview

Build Your Own is a method that helps people express their “what ifs” by putting tools for creativity and communication literally in their hands. It equips them with a kit of tangible symbolic elements that makes it quick and easy to create a physical representation of an idea. What you end up with are illuminating artifacts that provide a reference for what they desire or expect of your team’s ultimate solution.

A well-planned, easy to use kit of parts makes it possible for people to build what they imagine. The components you provide need to be simple and relatively nondescript, but should be appropriate to the type of solution you desire. For instance, a toolkit comprised of building blocks and figurines could work for urban residents invited to imagine their ideal use of public spaces. However, a toolkit consisting of pre-drawn user-interface elements and a sheet of paper would work better for IT professionals imagining their ideal network monitoring interface.

The benefits of this method

  • Shows what people want and desire.
  • Uncovers latent and unmet needs.
  • Challenges your assumptions.
  • Yields models to inform subsequent work.


Quick guide

  • Identify a product, service, or policy to focus on.
  • Make a kit of representational building blocks.
  • Include a variety of basic shapes and symbols.
  • Invite a group of primary stakeholders to participate.
  • Divide the group into teams of two people.
  • Give each team a construction kit.
  • Ask them to build an expression of an ideal solution.
  • Encourage them to “think aloud” as they construct.
  • Ask each team to present their final model.

Helpful hints

  • Make units easy to build with magnets or Velcro.
  • Limit the amount of time for building (15-30 min).
  • Listen carefully as teams express wants and needs.

Combining LUMA methods into design recipes

The methods in the LUMA System are great on their own, but they are really powerful when combined into design recipes. Just like when you combine ingredients to make a tasty meal, you can also combine design methods to address challenges such as improving workplace culture or uncovering customer insights.

An example of a recipe from LUMA Workplace®:

Want to learn more about LUMA methods?