Design Cross-Training Exercises, #5: First Time for Everything

Dig into one of 10 design exercises featured in the Summer issue of HOW Magazine, and share your creations on Twitter or Instagram with #DesignXTraining. 

Design Exercises: First Time for Everything

Time limit: 30 minutes

Pick one of the items from the following list, and imagine a world in which that thing does not exist. If you were designing the very fi rst version of that thing that anyone had ever seen, what would it look like? Sketch at least 10 different ideas, and consider the following questions: How will you explain this thing to others? Who will use it? What will you call it?


Pepper grinder

Picture frame

Pencil eraser

Toaster Sunscreen

Chainsaw Pillows

Water bottle

Masking tape


Swing set





Want to print out a template and drawing space? Cick here to download this page from the magazine.


Phase 1: Come up with a magazine ad that encourages a group of people to use the object. When thinking of groups, consider unexpected or unusual uses for your new object.

Phase 2: Sketch out a series of virtual reality (VR) scenarios that would provide people with a safe place to practice using the new object.


For one day, the store from Exercise 4 is going to sell only this single item. Redo the fi rst set of hourly signs to incorporate this object and their ad campaign.

In the Summer issue of HOW, David & Mary Sherwin present a series of 10 essential design exercises to keep your creativity agile, energetic and powerful. Each one is paired with skill-building next steps and creative cross-training activities to help you work out different parts of your brain. Why is creative cross-training important? As Sherwin writes,

“Cross-training taught me a different sort of discipline as a designer. You can work on improving specific skills that come up as part of projects: Arranging elements in a page spread, crafting a compelling identity or icon, laying out a responsive website, or animating graphics for a video. But your biggest gains will come from design cross-training—moving through a variety of different design exercises that help you build and extend your skills.”

Keep an eye out at for more exciting design exercises, and check out all of them in HOW Magazine!

The extended deadline for the HOW In-House Design Awards is July 5. Don’t miss this opportunity to recognize your team’s work—because a boost of confidence really is in reach! All it takes is one entry.