On Permission Seeking

Do you need permission?

Imagine we are having this conversation 500 years ago. And we are discussing light. 

How do we calculate the speed of light? Or how do we figure out the focal length of a lens? We would have to set up an experiment. But there would be no shops selling scientific instruments, so we wouldn’t be able to go somewhere and buy the equipment necessary to set up the experiments. We would have to make the rig ourselves. Thomas Kuhn in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (link to book at end) goes so far as to say that a good scientist was often one ( well at least in the 1500s a good scientist was someone) who was a good carpenter, or a good scientist was one who was a good lens grinder. 

“Mysterium Cosmographicum” Etching, Johannes Keppler

So when you think of Galileo or when you think of Johannes Kepler working out the planetary motions, and if you go and look at Google images for the kinds of rigs, or equipment set up they had (look for etchings in google images) you will realize that the stuff they ended up making was the stuff that they were capable of making.

Galileo Galilei

Why is this important? This is important because last year we had to do everything online. We couldn’t go to the shops and buy things. We couldn’t go to the workshop and have access to sophisticated machines with which to do things. And suddenly something changed. Let us call it the ‘maker turn’ in the lives of design students all over the world. 

Shameless plug for Soumitri’s Makerspace site to inspire design students of the world: https://sites.google.com/view/my-makerspace/home?authuser=0

MICA in Baltimore has a version of this site – LINK – and they asked if they could put my profile on this site as the instigator. (You can see my picture there.)

Q: Is MF6M viral? Hell yeah, now it is. LINK.

Q2: Is “Your makerspace” viral? You know the answer. This is what the design program at SPA Delhi/ India did with their copy of the file – LINK.

Two things happened in this change

1500 CE in the world Histomap

One is that we went back to 1500 CE. We went back to a time where we needed skills to be able to make something ourselves. We were given the opportunity to grow our inner makers. To grow our inner carpenter, to grow our inner craftsperson. This is fantastic, isnt it?

But the second thing which we haven’t spoken about also happened. And that is very very significant. So, the second significant thing that happens was whether when do you enter the university, to study industrial design, you also made a pact with yourself. 

With the university. 

With society. 

With whoever you make pacts with. 

That you will hold off starting your industrial design studio. 

You will hold off looking for a job in an industrial design studio. 

You will hold off designing things for people. 

Till you are given permission. 

Till you get a certificate from the University saying; now we permit you to sketch. 

Now we permit you to make something for money. 

Now, in this Covid Pivot, that (all of THAT?) we can throw out of the window. Can we not? That essentially means that even the permissions can be set aside and we can go back to 1500 CE. To a time when there were no design programs. To a time where there were no certificates for industrial designers. 

The Glider, by Leonardo da Vinci

And so if you wanted to design an airplane. You just went out and did it. Nobody paid you for it. You became broke. But you had a blast. So, hey, what about it? 

So if you have a corner of your room and you have your own makerspace and you have a bit of time. Hey, what about it? Isn’t that your studio? Isn’t that your enterprise? Isn’t that something or a place where you can make something? Put your creations on Etsy, on Instagram, on Facebook and off you go?

Can you grow the entrepreneurial seed within you? Let me try and water it. 

  1. Are you a CEO? A CTO? A CDO? Or a bit of everything?
  2. Have you met someone in these teams that could be a good venture collaborator?
  3. Are you giggling?

A week to go

You have a week. To go for your final presentation. But think about this. Let us take a minute to see what this means. Who are you? What can you do? What are you excited about? And do you still want to ask permission? 

Look back on your studio. How have you grown? How have you changed? Then complete these two lines:

I used to be …

But now …

(thanks Neil Postman for these lines)

All the best. Remember to be bad. Take it away.

Promised link and a nudge

Thomas Kunh’s book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions

I have been getting into John Spencer‘s videos. Take a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ryl37A7RhKw&t=2s

By Soumitri Varadarajan

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

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