Its half past 12 and I am standing outside SpaceTank Studios, next to my car. I am have a chat with student.

He has just told me that he is from Hangzhou. I stop and tell him about my Hangzhou stint as a visiting academic. (My post and image share with the student here).

I open my phone, we look at the site and the link to the videos. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if you watched a few of these?” I ask him. “You can’t un-watch them”, I warn, emphasizing the power of audi visual experiences. I then show him this mind bending video about Japanese Marquetry.

“If that blows you away”, I say, why don’t you watch 6 more of these videos in this small playlist. Its my Inspiration IDE playlist. (I have used the above video for the Playlist image)

“I can do that”, says the student.

“In fact”, I say, “why don’t we have a look at the other playlist I made for you all”. So we do. (Playlist below, 200 videos in this list)

We open it, and I show the student the time stamp on the videos. 3 minutes, 6 minutes, 16 minutes, 2 minutes. “What do you think”, I say, “would you like to watch these? This is a list of 200 videos I put together for the hungry student”.

Then just like that something amazing happened!!

“Ya, I can do that. I can watch that. I will watch this by next class”. Says the student.

I stood for a long time, I just stood there looking at him. “You may have just become completely awesome”, I said to him, poking a finger at my heart.

This student is about to do something that will not fetch him even one mark. It will have no impact upon his grade. The only reason for him to do this will have to be that he wants to become better, or he would have to be curious to see what happens if he watches these videos. Will he be transformed?


I believe in creating environments that work best for self directed learners, mature age students and hungry students. I belive in harnessing the energy of large groups. I believe educating for design is a unique form of learning. One where the student and teacher work together, collaborate, to realise the embodiement of design within the persona and ecology of the student.

Its a journey best undertaken in a climate of trust, respect and admiration.

Ways of Approaching Knowledge

I believe there are two ways of approaching knowledge about materials and processes.
1. One as cerebral knowledge – I know this stuff. Thats good if you are being confronted with a written test or an exam.
2. The other is viscerally – by falling in love, by being simply gob smacked and making a memorable experience for yourself.

How to get it wrong

I believe creatives, like designers, need to mediate materials and processes with passion. As children, naively and by making  mistakes, getting it wrong and discovering some unexpected outcomes. Basically as innovators. As Creatives. As the ones who discover new ways.

Learning how to become a LEARNER

Creatives are also life long learners, so they need to be open and trusting. They need to learn to learn. Most people have never been to a session where they have been taught how learn better, or just simply ‘how to learn’. They have been taught.

What is right?

Have you explored traditional crafts in your “processes”. Have you just done mass production processes? If the world relies on injection moulding, casting and sheet metal folding for most of its products – is that enough to learn?

There are easy answers to these questions. And then there are interesting answers to these questions. There can also be ‘standardisation’ or ‘utility’ orientated answers to these questions.

Mainly there are individual and collective ways to learn content. I believe individual is better. I belive it best connects emotion (I like, I love) to knowledge.

Have you any space for more?

To learn we need time, we need one that is hungry. We need a craving. We need an empty cup. I leave you with a Zen Koan.

A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?” 

Where can I find these Videos?

This link takes you to a site with explanations and a list of playlists.

Published by Soumitri Varadarajan

Soumitri lives in Melbourne, Australia - #probonodesign #codesign #sustainability #patientexperience #quantifiedself #mdg

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