What Is Bodystorming? Bodystorming In A Nutshell

Bodystorming is a form of brainstorming where participants use their bodies to gain new insights and experiences. Bodystorming is an immersive ideation process where creativity is facilitated through role-playing and physical interaction using props, products, prototypes, and physical spaces. 

Understanding bodystorming

The primary goal of bodystorming is to develop empathy for the end-user by understanding the relationship they have with their physical environment.

Bodystorming is a valuable tool for designers because it allows them to quickly and inexpensively test and iterate on their ideas in a real-world setting.

In product development, bodystorming encourages the individual to imagine what it would be like if the product already existed.

By acting out a potential solution, designers can better understand the needs and challenges of their users, and can identify potential problems and opportunities for improvement before investing in more expensive and time-consuming development efforts.

The approach is used to design physical products, software, and interior or exterior spaces.

Whatever the application, the fundamental goal of brainstorming is to figure things out by trying things out.

The strategy helps teams break their dependency on analyzing ideas around a conference table and moves them closer to developing ideas that work in a real-world setting.

As a result, product development is based on actual user behavior as opposed to staged or manufactured behavior.

Conducting a bodystorming session

There are many ways to conduct a bodystorming session. Below we have detailed a relatively simplistic approach:

Assemble the team

For best results, start by assembling a small group of between 5 and 8 people. Ideally, the team should consist of experts, users, management, or those who will deliver or develop the product or service. 

Define the location

Where will the potential product or service be used? 

Observe behavior

Once the location has been determined, the bodystorming team should go there and observe the behavior of others without a specific brief.

How do individuals interact with the product or service? What is the context for each interaction?

Reproduce the environment

To rebuild the location in a controlled environment, the team should create prototypes and props using cardboard, existing furniture, or other items.

Alternatively, they can simply be sketched out.

Assign roles

Members of the team should then be assigned roles according to the information gleaned in step three.

The individual can take on the role of a customer, user, or troubleshooter.

They can also act as the product itself.


Then, have each subject role-play various scenarios.

In bodystorming, it is important to role-play new situations based on scenarios that emerge from this initial round.

Individual roles can be fixed in advance or rotated through each team member.

However, it’s important to avoid replaying scenarios with the same actors in the same roles.

Doing so can introduce personal biases and stifle idea generation.


What has the team learned from the experience?

Did any new questions arise? Were new solutions to existing problems discovered?

Reflect by taking notes or filming the entire process for posterity.

Remember that bodystorming is an ideation method.

Once it has been completed, a prototype needs to be created with user testing occurring thereafter. 

Bodystorming example

As we saw, bodystorming is a design thinking technique that involves simulating or “acting out” a potential solution to a problem to understand better the needs and challenges of the people using it.

Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.

Bodystorming can be used to explore a wide range of design concepts, from physical products and environments to digital interfaces and services.

Some examples of bodystorming in action might include:

Mobile app UX

A team of designers acting out the use of a new mobile app in a public space.

Observing and taking notes on how people interact with the app, and identifying potential challenges and opportunities for improvement.

Urban planning

A group of architects and urban planners physically acting out the movement of people through a proposed public space, such as a park or plaza.

To better understand how the space will be used and how it can be optimized for different activities and users.

Consumer product mock-ups

A team of product designers using props and mock-ups to simulate the use of a new consumer product.

Such as a kitchen appliance or piece of furniture, and testing it in different scenarios to understand how it will be used and what features are most important to users.

Key takeaways

  • Bodystorming is a form of brainstorming where participants use their bodies to gain new insights and experiences.
  • Bodystorming helps teams break their dependency on analyzing ideas around a conference table and moves them closer to developing ideas that work in a real-world setting. This has positive implications for product development based on user behavior.
  • Bodystorming sessions can be conducted by following seven simple steps: assemble the team, define the location, observe behavior, reproduce the environment, assign roles, improvise, and reflect. Once the process is over, the team must take successful ideas to the prototype and user testing stage.

Key Highlights

  • Bodystorming Overview:
    • Bodystorming is a brainstorming technique where participants use their bodies to gain insights through role-playing and physical interaction.
    • It aims to develop empathy for end-users by understanding their relationship with the physical environment.
    • Used in designing physical products, software, and interior/exterior spaces.
  • Benefits of Bodystorming:
    • Allows designers to test and iterate ideas in a real-world context quickly and inexpensively.
    • Encourages imagining product existence and acting out potential solutions.
    • Enhances understanding of user needs, challenges, and opportunities before investing in development.
  • Implementation Steps:
    • Assemble the Team: Gather a small group of experts, users, management, and relevant stakeholders.
    • Define the Location: Determine where the product or service will be used.
    • Observe Behavior: Observe how individuals interact with products/services in that location.
    • Reproduce the Environment: Create prototypes, props, or sketches to recreate the location.
    • Assign Roles: Assign roles like customers, users, or troubleshooters based on observations.
    • Improvise: Role-play scenarios, avoiding repeating with the same actors.
    • Reflect: Learn from the experience, note new questions, solutions, and insights.
  • Bodystorming Example:
    • Bodystorming is a design thinking technique used to understand users’ needs and challenges.
    • It balances desirability, feasibility, and viability to solve problems.
    • Applied to explore design concepts for various contexts like physical products, digital interfaces, and services.
  • Examples of Bodystorming:
    • Mobile App UX: Designers simulate app use in public spaces, observe interactions, and identify challenges.
    • Urban Planning: Architects act out people’s movement in proposed spaces to optimize usage.
    • Consumer Product Mock-ups: Product designers use props to simulate product use and test scenarios.

Connected business concepts to Bodystorming


Starbursting is a structured brainstorming technique with a focus on question generation. Starbursting is a structured form of brainstorming allowing product teams to cover all bases during the ideation process. It utilizes a series of questions to systematically work through various aspects of product development, forcing teams to evaluate ideas based on viability.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciate Inquiry (AI) is an organizational change methodology that focuses on strengths and not on weaknesses. Appreciate Inquiry was created by management professors David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva in the 1980s. The Appreciate Inquiry is also known as the 5-D Cycle, an iterative cycle describing five distinct phases, made of define, discover, dream, design, and destiny.

Round-robin Brainstorming

Round-robin brainstorming is a collective and iterative approach to brainstorming. Brainstorming is an effective way of generating fresh ideas for an organization. Round-robin brainstorming is a balanced approach, employing an iterative, circular process that builds on the previous contribution of each participant.

Constructive Controversy

Constructive controversy is a theory arguing that controversial discussions create a good starting point for understanding complex problems. A constructive controversy discussion is performed by following six steps: organize information and derive conclusions; presenting and advocating decisions; being challenged by opposing views; conceptual conflict and uncertainty; epistemic curiosity and perspective-taking; and reconceptualization, synthesis, and integration.

Affinity Grouping

Affinity grouping is a collaborative prioritization process where group participants brainstorm ideas and opportunities according to their similarities. Affinity grouping is a broad and versatile process based on simple but highly effective ideas. It helps teams generate and then organize teams according to their similarity or likeness.

The Fishbone Diagram

The Fishbone Diagram is a diagram-based technique used in brainstorming to identify potential causes for a problem, thus it is a visual representation of cause and effect. The problem or effect serves as the head of the fish. Possible causes of the problem are listed on the individual “bones” of the fish. This encourages problem-solving teams to consider a wide range of alternatives.


Rolestorming as a term was first mentioned by personal development guru Rick Griggs in the 1980s.  Rolestorming is a brainstorming technique where participants pretend they are other people when sharing their thoughts and ideas.

Reverse Brainstorming

Reverse brainstorming takes advantage of the natural human tendency to more easily see problems than solutions. What’s more, many individuals when placed in a traditional brainstorming environment will find it difficult to become creative on command. Reverse brainstorming is an approach where individuals brainstorm the various ways a plan could fail. 

Lotus Diagram

A lotus diagram is a creative tool for ideation and brainstorming. The diagram identifies the key concepts from a broad topic for simple analysis or prioritization.

Futures Wheel

The futures wheel was invented in 1971 by Jerome C. Glenn while he was studying at the Antioch Graduate School of Education.  The futures wheel is a brainstorming framework for visualizing the future consequences of a particular trend or event.

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