00:00:08 Hi everyone I’m Kadambari Sahu.
00:00:11 I'm the head of design at Value Labs.
00:00:13 Design inspire is the web series of passionate innovative
00:00:16 and young inspiring designers.
00:00:19 The web series dive into their passion inspiration and what makes them go.
00:00:23 It's an effort to understand how they are navigating their career path and how they
00:00:28 are investing their creative energies.
00:00:30 We believe hearing the bold moves and inspiring stories will ignite interest and inspired
00:00:35 the next generation of bonding designers across the globe.
00:00:43 A little bit about myself.
00:00:45 I started off my design journey by studying graphic design in Symbiosis in Pune and then
00:00:54 I worked in a bunch of advertising firms and design agencies for a little while and then
00:01:00 I went to NID to study new media where I met Kadambari and after that, I worked in another
00:01:08 digital design agency and then happened to go meander over to Adobe where I worked
00:01:14 on the document cloud and Acrobat team.
00:01:19 I worked there for about four and half years as an interaction designer.
00:01:24 Just in March of 2018, I moved to Google, UK and I work on the Android platform design
00:01:31 team here.
00:01:32 So, that's a little bit of short summary of where I'm coming from.
00:01:37 So, today's topic like when I said, navigating a world in flux, the designers tool kit these
00:01:43 are the kind of images that pop into your mind when I say tools and I have nothing against
00:01:50 I use a lot of every day in my day-to-day work as well, but I'd rather not talk about
00:01:55 these tools today.
00:01:56 I'd rather talk about like certain number of mindsets and behaviors.
00:02:01 And some of these thoughts that we should keep in our mind so that we are equipped for
00:02:06 a new era of interaction design which are a little bit more conceptually relevant.
00:02:11 And I draw from my own experience wherever I can leave these kinds of like behaviors
00:02:16 and mindsets have helped me in my career.
00:02:18 So hopefully it's a little bit personal and also the lens is a little bit different for
00:02:26 these behaviors.
00:02:27 So, I'll just jump right into it.
00:02:30 I mean I know I can’t see anybody right now, but I would love to do like some sort
00:02:37 of a poll about how many of us would have imagined like, you know, five to ten years
00:02:41 ago that we would be designing for things like voice interfaces or, VR or AR or, even
00:02:50 like, you know, a tech that is powered by AI or ML.
00:02:53 And I think I am pretty sure most of us would say that we didn't know that.
00:03:00 And we couldn't have predicted it.
00:03:02 And, so this is, just like a background of how our practice, this is going through a
00:03:07 little bit of sea change and all of these issues that are coming up with new technologies
00:03:13 or something that we need to keep in mind.
00:03:15 And, some of these tool kits that I'll talk about are going to be helpful in that sort
00:03:20 of scenario.
00:03:22 So, I have like these five things that I want to talk about.
00:03:28 And the first one is something that I know a lot of people who know me know that I love
00:03:33 books, and I think we, all of us should be like, sort of like a sponge, especially like
00:03:40 designers who want to learn about everything around them and the world, like go to like
00:03:46 museums and like, go travel and like meet people and read books.
00:03:51 So, there is a case for staying curious.
00:03:54 And why that is, is because there's like new problems that we're dealing with now.
00:04:00 So imagine that you're working for like a car company, that's making a self-driving
00:04:06 car and that might be true for some people within my company, I haven't directly interacted
00:04:12 with any of them, but the kind of problems that you deal with are going to go beyond
00:04:18 just like, you know, what kind of buttons will drive conversions and things like that.
00:04:25 They're going to be a little bit more like ethically driven, more morally loaded questions.
00:04:30 Like for instance, if you design a car that is a self-driving car, should you prioritize
00:04:36 the occupant of the car versus the pedestrian who is crossing the road?
00:04:40 If, like you see in the image, if, there's a choice for the car to swerve towards an
00:04:48 older person versus a baby, which direction will the car choose.
00:04:54 So this of, thing was built by the MIT use such as the moral machine a few
00:05:01 years back and the results of this are super interesting because they kind of make you
00:05:05 think about like the trolley problem from philosophy and how can we draw from those
00:05:11 kinds of naughty and a sort of very ethically loaded questions and how can we inform that
00:05:18 into our practice.
00:05:20 So, our work today like especially I know for my own thing, it doesn't have like a direct
00:05:27 impact for instance on life and death like this would be but I think we should start
00:05:33 like arming ourselves with knowledge from like other fields like say philosophy and
00:05:38 psychology law, linguistics, sociology all of that when the time comes for us to deal
00:05:44 with problems like this we are well-equipped.
00:05:47 So, that is the case for being like a T-shaped designer.
00:05:51 And this is something that I'm sure a lot of you would have come across before because
00:05:56 this is something that Tim Brown said from IDEO back in 2010, that you need to have a
00:06:03 certain breadth of knowledge even though you choose like a certain two or three core
00:06:10 areas for your expertise, you still need to create something or where a huge knowledge
00:06:16 base where you can draw from your own experiences and so on to create like some sort of a larger
00:06:24 And the case for that just as example is how the iPod came into being.
00:06:31 And like the iPod is a story that is sort of done to death, but it's important because
00:06:36 I don't know how many of us know that it's not like it was imagined it’s like this
00:06:42 revolutionary product that came out and everybody loved it.
00:06:45 But at the end of the day it had a lot of things that were already existing in the market
00:06:50 at the time.
00:06:51 So, it was not the first portable music player in the market, they were already existing.
00:06:56 The core problem that they solved was a storage.
00:06:59 So, what they did was there was a storage like a portable storage that been built by
00:07:05 So, which is the first image on the left-hand side.
00:07:08 What they did was they took that and then they put it in like a smaller form factor.
00:07:12 And then they kind of took the design and the inspiration of the design and the industrial
00:07:17 design from Dieter radio back in the 1950s.
00:07:21 And, then even the name iPod came from like the copywriter referencing a dialogue from
00:07:28 2001 A Space Odyssey, where you know this character HAL which is the AI.
00:07:35 And he says, and the narrator says “Open the pod bay door, HAL!” and the AI refuses.
00:07:41 And that's the first thing that they came up with like when they saw the device.
00:07:45 So even the name came from like previous, existing like references.
00:07:52 So, the breadth of knowledge of hardware and mechanical design, industrial design, everything
00:07:57 came together to kind of make the iPod and it wasn't just like it didn't there, wasn't
00:08:02 an idea of like what you recall moment, helped it to come into being.
00:08:07 So, this breadth of from drawing from to create something is something that's important.
00:08:13 The other flip side that I want to point to, when we say reading, we need to be careful
00:08:18 about what we are reading because online as we know that reading anything or getting
00:08:25 like any information is like a little bit of a dopamine cake.
00:08:28 And, I think everybody out there who's creating content online knows that and this whole idea
00:08:33 of short form like very quick bite-sized content is something that is proliferated so much
00:08:40 online these days and it's that quick like, dopamine shots that our brain gets.
00:08:46 And we don't end up reading, like for a very long time of doing a reading, something like
00:08:51 complex ideas or longer form reading.
00:08:55 So, there's a book especially by this author called Sven Birkerts, called “The Gutenberg
00:09:02 Elegies” where he says that the deep reading of this kind for long form text requires like
00:09:11 deep concentration and enhances like your ability to critically, examine a text and
00:09:17 analyze a complex subject and this can only happen if you stop reading, it's kind of infinite
00:09:23 scrolling, feed kind of stuff that click bait that's all over online.
00:09:28 So, you need to be a little bit careful about what you consider reading and staying curious
00:09:32 for and I want to end section by saying that there's a really famous quote by a 1950s Madison
00:09:41 Avenue ad man called the Carl Ally.
00:09:44 And he says “The creative person wants to be know-it-all.
00:09:48 And he, or she want to know about all kinds of things like ancient history, 19th century
00:09:54 mathematics, current manufacturing techniques and hog futures.
00:09:57 Because you don’t know where these ideas might come from together to form like a new
00:10:02 So, that in a nutshell is what I'm trying to say.
00:10:03 And then you say you want to be a better designer; you should be curious about everything and
00:10:09 everything in the world around you.
00:10:12 Not just like a design and interaction design and like design books for instance.
00:10:21 The second bit is like how we can use imagination to create future fictions.
00:10:29 So, these are few off a pop culture references and books that have rocketed into like in
00:10:39 the forefront in the recent past because we've started to see like the things that they said
00:10:45 are somewhat coming through.
00:10:47 So,1984 is a book by George Orwell.
00:10:49 Brave New World it's a book by Aldous Huxley.
00:10:52 Wall E movie, I'm sure you pretty much know about it and must have seen it.
00:10:57 And Black Mirror is of course something that is always in the news for like imagining dystopian
00:11:04 The exercise of like world building like this is a very valuable tool because it's not just
00:11:11 the thing itself, but the whole narrative around it and how the people and their behaviors
00:11:17 and economies and societies change on the basis of these new technologies that come
00:11:22 about and I think that's super important.
00:11:26 What these specific pop cultural references if I might say predicted was let's say 1984
00:11:33 was all about surveillance and I'm sure there's things happening right now in Hong Kong and
00:11:40 like a lot of places even across the world and maybe even in India are kind of pointing
00:11:46 towards what can happen is citizens that's surveilled all the time social media and the
00:11:52 kind of instant gratification that you get or the validation that you keep looking for
00:11:57 online was something that was predicted by Huxley, E-waste and Wall E and maybe just
00:12:03 like all of the different kind of dystopian futures that can happen with all technologies
00:12:10 like robotics and social media and so on.
00:12:12 Black Mirror treats like all of them in like the different episodes.
00:12:16 So, if you haven't watched it I really recommend it you have time at home these days so it
00:12:23 will be a good watch.
00:12:25 Like the practice of thinking about these kinds of futures it's called design fictions.
00:12:30 And it's a term that was popularized by a futurist Julian Bleecker and I think it's
00:12:36 a really important tool in our arsenal to sort of paint pictures of the future and have
00:12:42 visions which are functional.
00:12:45 And there's another kind like on the other side there's another kind of future making
00:12:49 that's possible.
00:12:50 Which I want to talk about the mimics in 1945 was imagined by Vannevar Bush.
00:12:59 And he wrote an essay called “As we may think” and he envisioned mimics as a device
00:13:05 in which individuals could compress and store all sorts of books and records and communications
00:13:11 and it would be mechanized so that you could consult it with amazing speed and alacrity.
00:13:18 So, within this desk there would be like cameras and electromechanics like fittings and such
00:13:27 that would reference like any sort of information that you want at any time and you would get
00:13:31 it like with the snap of your fingers.
00:13:34 That sounds really familiar to us right now because we have stuff like Wikipedia
00:13:41 at our fingertips or even Google search but back in those days that these stuffs didn't
00:13:47 exist of course it's the 1940s.
00:13:50 But even though it wasn't exactly the form that eventually ended up with the world wide
00:13:55 web it did predict a lot of these technologies back in that day like hypertexts or like online
00:14:03 encyclopedias and so on and speech recognition.
00:14:06 So even if the thing that you imagine as an object won't eventually be productionized,
00:14:13 so to speak in the same manner and this way of future making envisions and thinking of
00:14:22 coming up with new ideas is really useful.
00:14:24 Maybe it's not for you but maybe for somebody who's coming down the line in the next generation
00:14:30 and they can take that idea and built up on it.
00:14:36 And, this reminds me of an exhibition that I went to recently in 2019 called moving
00:14:42 to Mars at the design museum here in London.
00:14:47 And, it was based on the premise that what would it take for us to move to Mars and all
00:14:56 of the sort of trappings with that like how would we travel there.
00:15:01 Like what kind of structures would be built to live there.
00:15:05 Like what would your governments be like how would you grow food for sustenance and so
00:15:11 And everything like from a tracing the history of what we think of moving to Mars is in the
00:15:17 scientific bits of it were kind of collated into the exhibition.
00:15:21 It was super interesting for me to see and trace that but I also ended up thinking about
00:15:26 it like such an exercise like the exhibit mentioned they do all of us to move forward
00:15:33 and some of the technologies that they're experimenting with potentially help like even
00:15:38 life on earth.
00:15:39 But when you start thinking about futures like this, spaces and places where there hasn't
00:15:46 been like borders drawn on or like nobody knows who owns it, so to speak we need to
00:15:53 consider like some of these really important questions like who is it that gets to go to
00:15:58 Mars to create like some sort of a parallel civilization and what processes would decide
00:16:04 who gets to go to Mars and are those processes fair.
00:16:07 Will they have the same kind of, this is so the society that we build there will it have
00:16:13 the same kind of biases that we have here does like painting this sort of envision resulting
00:16:20 like cynical sort of a hopelessness or let this planet go to like, let's not solve the
00:16:32 problems here because we have another option so that those are some of the things that
00:16:36 we need to question when we need to look at futures as well who are these futures for.
00:16:42 Because we don't to carry the same sort of privilege and biases across to other places
00:16:49 and other projects.
00:16:52 and to conclude this section, I would like to say that it's good to come up with like
00:16:59 these grand ideas and visions.
00:17:01 It's also really important to take like an ecosystem approach to it and also, it's like
00:17:07 Donella Meadows have elaborated on how systems thinking requires like a shift in mindset.
00:17:13 So, if you need to start thinking about networks that involve or ecosystems are not the individual
00:17:21 nodes in your thinking needs to be a little bit more cyclical, rather than being very
00:17:28 And instead of designing for say isolated users we need to start thinking about how
00:17:32 do we design for the relationships between them and the relationships with their environment
00:17:38 and the impact that kind of has.
00:17:40 So, this particular project of the image that you see in the background is a project I don't
00:17:45 know if a lot of you would have seen it or not but it's super interesting and I'd recommend
00:17:50 for you to go and check it out.
00:17:51 It's called the “Anatomy of an AI system” and attracts like the life of an Alexa query
00:17:58 from like the software layer down to like the silicon layer which is where the silicon
00:18:05 comes from being mined in Africa and so on.
00:18:07 And all of the actors and all the people who are involved in just like that one single
00:18:13 thing which we tend to not look at when we design like interfaces and such we'll look
00:18:18 at like the software layer of it maybe and then you stop that we need to go a little
00:18:23 bit deeper and start thinking about like ecosystems in general.
00:18:28 So, if you haven't seen it, I encourage you to check it out.
00:18:31 And this vision making should encompass sort of systems thinking in it as well.
00:18:37 So visions are important and it's important for us to chalk out time outside of like release
00:18:45 cycles to give some time to think about the future and the way we think about the future
00:18:52 is to include all sorts of actors in them and visions like this is Brett Victor from
00:18:58 Whiting, which is again like a super amazing resource would encourage you to check it out.
00:19:04 And visions give people a direction and inspire to act and a group of inspired people is the
00:19:09 most powerful force in the world.
00:19:11 So even if there are things that you imagine that would not come to be right this moment
00:19:17 it's important to leave certain things for posterity.
00:19:21 Now comes to like a little bit of the fun part.
00:19:26 This is the reason why we got into design space everybody who I've ever met in the design
00:19:32 community has said that they had like some sort of a passion for like making things and
00:19:36 building things or tinkering or playing and that might be anything like might be like
00:19:41 you paint or you like to build your own blocks or you were really into fashion or you were
00:19:50 really into tinkering with electronics or whatever it is, but this is the reason that
00:19:55 we why we got into design and I feel like some of the times like in our day to
00:20:03 day jobs, we forget that this is where we came from.
00:20:08 So, getting our hands dirty is important and we should take a time out to do that as well
00:20:15 because it nurtures that little creative side of our personality which sometimes might
00:20:22 not get as much of an outlet in our day to day jobs.
00:20:26 So, with interaction design specifically there are these new tools that are available to
00:20:33 us like whether there are things like the Arduino, or micro controllers are very easy
00:20:40 to pick up code platforms like processing or like if you want to experiment with 3D
00:20:48 printing these days it’s super easy.
00:20:50 It's important to play with these tools and new materials.
00:20:52 Because the older materials that we used to play with like they gave us a good base, this
00:20:59 will give us some sort of a good base for us to understand how technologies are going
00:21:04 to evolve and how we're going to help it how we can help shape it for the future.
00:21:10 So, there's another particular book by an author called David Rose called “Enchanted
00:21:19 objects” which paints a picture of like how technology can explode up the screens
00:21:27 and become situated in the living environment.
00:21:29 And, when you start thinking about things like that if you tinker with these kinds
00:21:33 of tools you'll be able to imagine and create those scenarios with a little bit more flexibility
00:21:42 and adeptness and this is where I come to the point where we have to nurture that maker
00:21:51 inside of us.
00:21:52 I know there's a lot of time like I know it happens to me, where there's like days and
00:21:57 days of chalk a block full of meetings.
00:21:59 And bug fixes and such.
00:22:01 And you're not like really getting your hands dirty and making anything but one of the designers
00:22:09 and Matt Jones, who now works in Google, but he used to own and a design agency called
00:22:15 Berg in London which created things like the little printer and lots of like little objects
00:22:22 which imagine how different futures can be.
00:22:26 There he in a recent talk said like chatting is cheating.
00:22:30 So, if you cannot you shouldn't aim to explain your idea through words you should use like
00:22:38 other tools in your arsenal to kind of paint a picture of what it looks like.
00:22:44 And you can literally paint a picture but you can also use like a lot of other things
00:22:48 that I've already spoken about as tools to kind of enable you to do that.
00:22:53 It's important for us to do that and to take the time to immerse ourselves in something
00:23:00 new and creating something with our hands because there's a concept of flow and when
00:23:06 you immerse yourself in something that is just the right amount of difficult and just
00:23:14 the right amount of something that interests you enter a state which we know now is slow
00:23:20 and it helps you to sort of disconnect from the day to day complexities of your job maybe
00:23:27 and side projects are amazing for this.
00:23:29 So, I would encourage everyone to have like some sort of a side project that they nurture
00:23:34 on their own outside of their regular job requirements.
00:23:41 So, flipside I end each section almost with like a flip side.
00:23:48 Flipside to this is like especially now I would encourage people to not feel like they
00:23:54 need to be productive all the time.
00:23:57 I know that the pandemic is like that as soon as the pandemic sort of started spreading,
00:24:05 I have also seen like us spike in the number of ads that you see for like online courses
00:24:12 and things like that.
00:24:13 And, it's almost you're getting time at home.
00:24:16 So, you should at the end of whatever six months I don't know how long it's going to
00:24:19 be a year or something you should come out with having learnt, six languages or learn
00:24:25 how to code and not how to do all sorts of things.
00:24:30 But it's important to take care of yourself and not consider everything to be towards
00:24:37 an end goal.
00:24:40 So, the thing is we live in like this sort of neoliberal post capitalist society where
00:24:47 everything has to have some sort of value and the kind of value that we attach to hobbies
00:24:54 isn't that great but we need to, to think about our time on this planet.
00:25:01 Not just being something that contributes to value in the traditional sense in the economic
00:25:07 sense of it but something that is just to nurture ourselves.
00:25:12 So, if feel like baking, or if you feel like doing something which is not directly related
00:25:17 to your job or supposed to make you like a better designer so to speak you should go
00:25:22 ahead and do that.
00:25:23 And you shouldn't be like Yes, I should pick up a hobby that's going to help in my job
00:25:27 as well.
00:25:28 So, there's some sort of a balance that needs to be drawn on both those ends.
00:25:37 I think any talk of design these days wouldn't be sort of complete without talking about
00:25:43 empathy and connecting with people.
00:25:47 And if you sort of do like a Google search I think you've seen so many articles and so
00:25:53 many like periodicals and things that are coming out with just how you can use empathy
00:26:02 in like the UX design process.
00:26:03 And, it's almost become like a step in the design process.
00:26:07 Like yes, we will do empathy in the first step of the process and then kind of like
00:26:12 take it from there.
00:26:13 And it's for me personally to whittle something like empathy down to like just a step in the
00:26:21 process is not giving it an enough due credit.
00:26:25 It should almost be like an ideology something that is the basis of all of our work it should
00:26:31 be something that guides all of our actions not just at work but even outside of it because
00:26:36 it's not like a switch you can flip and I'm going to be empathetic towards my users at
00:26:42 work and I'm going to be like extremely mean and rude and whatever to people outside of
00:26:48 So, it's almost like something that you need to be and do in all of the aspects of your
00:26:55 life rather than just like being a designer and saying that yes this is the step of this
00:27:00 I'm thinking empathy that I should complete.
00:27:03 And as an example, like VR has been touted as the ultimate empathy tool because you know
00:27:12 you can wear a headset and kind of get inside somebody else's visions of what their life
00:27:16 are like.
00:27:17 And these are a few examples across the line is a VR documentary film where you get inside
00:27:24 the body of a pregnant woman who's going to have an abortion clinic and she's being harassed
00:27:30 by anti-abortion like protesters.
00:27:33 And then the other one the screenshot from the right is from VR film that talks about
00:27:38 what it's like to be abused as a child in a family that is dysfunctional.
00:27:45 So, it feels like these will create a sort of personal distress when you watch them but
00:27:56 there is a difference between personal distress and empathic concern.
00:28:01 And this is something that researchers have found that they did like a study even right
00:28:08 before VR that they took blindfolds and they put it in front of users and they bound their
00:28:17 hands and they're like, go about your day life is to try to understand how blind people
00:28:23 But of course the users who did have sight they struggled.
00:28:29 But the thing is blind people do not struggle like that on a day to day basis that they
00:28:35 don't require warmth from us they want respect and they want like understanding.
00:28:42 Basically, the idea that for us to grant some sort of legitimacy on to somebody problems
00:28:49 or somebody distress we need to experience it ourselves.
00:28:54 That's just a little bit flawed because you shouldn't have to experience things yourselves
00:28:59 but you do be able to feel empathy or for you to be able to feel like you need to do
00:29:06 things to optimize for all of these kind of people outside of it as well.
00:29:12 So, this is a really cool quote that I found that "if you won't believe somebody’s pain
00:29:19 unless they wrap an expensive 360 video around you, then perhaps you don't actually
00:29:23 care about their pain."
00:29:25 So, it's important to not use empathy as just like a tool and or like step in the process
00:29:34 or something that I take upon myself or my own body but it needs to be empathic concern.
00:29:42 So, I'd encourage you to read a little bit more about that if you're interested.
00:29:48 And leading up to that I think personal experiences but this sort of individuality of anybody
00:29:56 can only be respected when we are also really self-aware and practice reflection and this
00:30:03 goes back to a little bit to our ethnography project back in NID where we were asked to
00:30:09 write autobiographies of ourselves.
00:30:11 And we are like how is that relevant but thinking back it's relevant because we were asked to
00:30:17 be super detailed.
00:30:18 And the idea was that we will become a little bit more aware of our own biases and privileges
00:30:24 and that and to situate ourselves in the context of who we are and then that makes us better
00:30:33 equipped to go out into the world and do things for other people.
00:30:37 So, to put your work in perspective you need to understand your own privilege be that on
00:30:42 the basis of whatever it is like whether it's on the basis of gender, race, caste, socioeconomic
00:30:48 status, class and the power that you have as a person of access.
00:30:52 So, self-awareness and empathy are very closely connected so I think we should take the time
00:30:59 out to become self-aware of the biases that we have.
00:31:03 The last step is something that also I have learnt over time something that I didn't realize
00:31:14 when I was just out of design school was that you come out of design school and you think
00:31:20 that you're going to change the world and you're going to do things that will have like
00:31:25 massive impact and you will get published in papers and things like that.
00:31:30 But we need to realize that big impact changes take a lot of time and this should take time
00:31:38 because they should be carefully considered you should have multiple perspectives and
00:31:43 people on board who ratify what you think is the right thing to do.
00:31:50 And so, that is why persistence and design is something that goes hand in hand and design
00:31:57 is always a little bit in progress.
00:32:00 I think one source of inspiration for me in the recent past especially has been nature
00:32:06 itself you think about how long it takes for something like some so immaterial like wind
00:32:13 to create these kind of landforms it becomes it we should kind of invite that process and
00:32:25 keep chipping away at the block to the time that we can shape it to whatever we want.
00:32:30 We can't be impatient with something like that.
00:32:35 And this kind of iterative design ability is something that we can really learn from
00:32:43 And this is just one example.
00:32:45 But processes in nature are generally like lower and they keep happening over many thousands
00:32:51 of years.
00:32:53 And just taking a look at that and being humbled by that and situating your own life and the
00:33:00 time of your own life and the kind of work that you do in the context of that helps you
00:33:05 be a little bit more persistent.
00:33:08 So, as my work on the Android team evolves it's not been a very long time since I joined
00:33:18 the team.
00:33:19 But there's been a lot of history and the little quotes and anecdotes that I've heard
00:33:24 about how the platform has evolved over the past 10 years.
00:33:29 And it simply fascinates me because it's sort of democratized like smartphones and computing
00:33:35 for so many people like almost more than 2 billion people around the world.
00:33:41 And the fact that it's open source and that the fact that people can put their own spin
00:33:47 on it and device manufacturers can customize it and people can customize it is something
00:33:54 that is close to my heart.
00:33:56 And I think it's the way that computing should be pushed forward.
00:34:00 But I also believe now and, in the past, like about what two years I realized that it's
00:34:06 still so much to do as we move forward, we still figure out like the things that we did
00:34:12 in the past, we have corrections to make of them.
00:34:17 Sometimes it's not new features but features that we have to kill that take a lot of time
00:34:23 to figure out and to design around.
00:34:27 Because all design is not just about creating new things.
00:34:31 It's also about like saying goodbye to things that are no longer relevant.
00:34:37 So, this is just like a small snippet of how things have evolved in Android of the past.
00:34:43 And maybe we'll give you a little bit of an idea.
00:34:46 But this is sort of the evolution of just a small aspect visual aspect of the platform
00:34:53 of how the launcher and the app screen have and the navigation at the bottom has evolved
00:35:00 back from Gingerbread to Android 10 which released in 2019.So back from like not having
00:35:08 touch screens at all to now having like complete gesture driven navigation patterns it's been
00:35:17 like such a huge sort of evolutionary step and like everything happens because like we
00:35:24 decided to change it little by little over multiple years.
00:35:30 So it's been more than 10 years that the platform has been around so I get and it's like, when
00:35:35 you work on projects and products like that you have to put your work out there in context
00:35:41 and be like whatever you make will not ship tomorrow or be available to people tomorrow
00:35:48 but it's something that you have to keep persisting at.
00:35:52 So those are the five things I wanted to talk about.
00:35:58 I know I took a little bit extra time and I was told.
00:36:03 Hopefully that was useful.
00:36:05 And thanks for listening, happy to take questions now.
00:36:07 Thank you, Mansi for such an interesting talk.
00:36:12 I really love the designer's toolkit that you talk today about.
00:36:15 And the next question is my team has come up with lot of questions that they want to
00:36:21 ask you.
00:36:23 So, I've compiled it, I'm going to ask you one by one.
00:36:28 So that's the second section that we have.
00:36:29 So, we'll start with something which is very simple or questions that we always ask for
00:36:36 What is being designer mean to you?
00:36:41 Being a designer to me means that I am the
00:36:48 representative of the people who are going to be using a product or service in the room
00:36:55 where it is being built.
00:36:57 So while I know it's not like a democratically elected representative process but I would
00:37:04 imagine that you should consider yourself as one who is going to be the voice of users
00:37:10 and voice of people who are going to be using anything of your products not just the current
00:37:15 users but even future generations in the room and kind of take the responsibility of figuring
00:37:20 out what's the best thing to do for everyone in an equitable and fair fashion.
00:37:26 So that's I think what I feel like in a nutshell our role should be.
00:37:32 What inspires you as a designer?
00:37:38 I think solving like problems for people putting
00:37:46 the access of technology in the hands of people that can change their lives in a positive
00:37:57 Basically, leaving the world a little bit better than the way you found it through making
00:38:02 like people's lives a little bit easier.
00:38:05 Because we all know like everybody has like harder lives and walk through whatever means
00:38:12 if we can help people out through like saving time or whatever giving them access to certain
00:38:19 things making connections helping nurture relation to whatever it is that you're working
00:38:24 on you can make their lives a little bit better.
00:38:26 I think that quest inspires me.
00:38:30 So, design is always iterative right.
00:38:34 And there are failures in between as we go, look into our designs we find faults.
00:38:39 How do you deal with such failures?
00:38:44 You have to deal with failures with a little
00:38:47 bit of a plume in the sense that certain decisions even if we do all of that stuff that I say
00:38:54 suppose talk about like we imagine futures anything how this design might age sometimes
00:39:00 you'll make mistakes.
00:39:02 Like the thing that comes to my mind is say one of the designers who a product people
00:39:08 who came up with infinite scrolling back in the day they came back and said that was one
00:39:13 of the things that they wish they wouldn't have designed that way because infinite scrolling
00:39:19 kind of tends to implicate you in you don't know where you are and you can spend like
00:39:25 hours wasting potentially time that you could spend may be with your family or such.
00:39:33 Something like that was made because the metric to measure success was wrong.
00:39:37 It was like time spent or daily active users or something like that.
00:39:43 So, those are the failures that I would want to watch out for or like to avoid.
00:39:50 Obviously, at the end of the day we have to be careful that we live in like a sort of
00:39:55 capitalistic world.
00:39:56 Of course, there has to be some sort of monetary value attached to these things at the end
00:40:00 of the day.
00:40:01 But we have to be careful especially as UX designers we have to somehow try to find a
00:40:08 balance between failures like that will not age well like say infinite scrolling.
00:40:15 What about negative feedback?
00:40:18 Feedbacks which are not so positive.
00:40:22 How one as a designer should take that and what are the benefits that you think of feedback?
00:40:28 Feedback is super important because right
00:40:30 at the end of the day if you feel like you know everything and you are the one whose
00:40:38 opinion is the one that should be always taken and said that's not right.
00:40:43 I think I kind of try to appeal with strong opinions loosely held.
00:40:48 So, you should have yes a strong opinion about what the best thing for the user is.
00:40:53 If somebody wants to give you feedback about how this might pan out not in the most optimal
00:40:59 way then you should be able to listen to it and optimize it on the basis of that as well.
00:41:06 So, feedback is important like from your designers but also from people who like product, your
00:41:12 product managers, your engineers, your stakeholders, because they are experts in their fields just
00:41:17 like you are in yours.
00:41:21 So, when you create or build anything you need experts in all fields to sort of come
00:41:27 What are your thoughts on collaboration
00:41:29 of the project?
00:41:30 And do you think like what can collaboration do in terms of when there are people with
00:41:36 different opinions and they come together?
00:41:38 So, what do you think now?
00:41:40 How should you move ahead?
00:41:44 They'll always be people who will not see
00:41:52 maybe the thing that you're trying to show in the same light.
00:41:56 I always feel like you shouldn't shut that conversation down you feel like okay let's
00:42:03 explore that we’ll come back to you with that let's see and that's our superpower.
00:42:09 So, you can build something and say that okay this is the way this will pan out, like you
00:42:16 But then you can also point out like but this is where I think this will go wrong or
00:42:20 this is the concern with this.
00:42:23 And the thing is sometimes people also think it might look good in their own head but they
00:42:27 can't visualize things the way that we can.
00:42:29 So, I think we should use us about to kind of put things even ideas that we don't agree
00:42:34 with maybe initially to a little bit of a form and then say that these are the ideas
00:42:39 you're saying but this will not work for XYZ reasons.
00:42:42 Also, I think leaning towards like precedents or leaning towards like existing products
00:42:47 or existing things which have done well which you like is something that you can use as
00:42:52 tools to kind of convince people to collaborate and come to the same set.
00:42:58 What about discourses and debates?
00:43:03 How important do you think that the role they play in a designer’s life?
00:43:11 You should definitely be happy having debates
00:43:14 about what the right thing to do is or not just about design right.
00:43:22 Like you should be having debates about like larger things or how do we situate our practice
00:43:28 or technology in the current world and how it will impact the planet or like the people
00:43:33 in it or the future generations and such.
00:43:35 So, having a level of debate about that with converging, sort of conflicting rather viewpoints
00:43:42 is enlightening because you get to see like different perspectives and there's all sorts
00:43:46 of people in the world.
00:43:47 I like they're all sorts of different viewpoints.
00:43:49 So, when you come across viewpoints that are not.
00:43:52 Like your own you know that they are also the kind of people that you are also designing
00:43:59 So, they also to be brought into the fold.
00:44:01 So, the discourses like has to be a little bit deeper level and not just specific to
00:44:07 like say, whatever interface that you're building, but like why you're building it or who is
00:44:13 it for?
00:44:14 And is it accessible to everyone or how it could equal is the access to it.
00:44:19 Critical thought is very important in
00:44:22 the design right.
00:44:24 And I think the debates gently help us to see that.
00:44:28 What would you recommend for young designers?
00:44:30 How should they hone their critical thinking skills?
00:44:33 Oh wow!
00:44:35 I don't know if I have like a magic bullet or something or that but I think some of the
00:44:42 things that like I mentioned in the presentation just like keep reading about different things
00:44:48 around you and read about like especially stuff like law how an argument is made or
00:44:56 what are the pros and cons for arguments things like that or like even anthropology or sociology
00:45:01 or things like that where you learn, what are the histories of people and how have they
00:45:06 evolved and what are the thoughts and what are the structures of societies and economies
00:45:11 and things like that.
00:45:12 I think.
00:45:14 You can critically evaluate something only when you see it in connection with other things.
00:45:18 So, to see those connections you need to know a little bit more around the world around
00:45:26 So, I guess I would just say read more widely diverse things.
00:45:31 I really like in your talk that you talked
00:45:35 about that now specifically in the time of the pandemic, people are trying to be super
00:45:41 productive, right?
00:45:42 And then there's work life balance that we really talk about.
00:45:45 So how do you manage that What does a day in Mansi Agarwal life
00:45:50 look like?
00:45:51 Now it's kind of goes well a little bit of
00:45:56 a blur.
00:45:57 I was reading away about how our time perception has become warped in these times because there's
00:46:04 no like key stones or milestones that we kind of gauge against all these like sorts of bleed
00:46:11 into each other and you're at home and you're working.
00:46:14 So, you just get up from your desk and you can come back to your desk even if it's like
00:46:17 eight o'clock in the evening.
00:46:20 There's nobody stopping you the computers are still there.
00:46:24 So, I try to switch off at like 6 o'clock of course sometimes that doesn't happen because
00:46:29 especially I work with remote teams that's when bay area teams wake up and things like
00:46:36 So, I try to switch off work by 6:00 PM.
00:46:40 But of course, these days it's just like I get up in the morning, breakfast lots of work.
00:46:45 And then of course you have to cook your own lunch and do that.
00:46:48 And then all of the housework is sort of like rolled into the day as well.
00:46:52 And that's I think people are like handling that everybody's out there who's handling
00:46:58 that in their own ways.
00:47:02 So, my meetings tend to go a little bit towards the later part of the evening just because
00:47:07 the fact that we work with like bay area teams as well.
00:47:12 So, I would encourage for those who are not working with remote teams to have like hard
00:47:20 stops that whatever time you want and then like do other stuff watch something or read
00:47:28 something or make something weekends are good.
00:47:32 Like weekends I used to paint and read which is nice.
00:47:37 You also bake right?
00:47:42 So, what do you, currently bake?
00:47:45 I've been trying to bake healthier because
00:47:49 of course I like eating that kind of sweet stuff but I know that of course it's not that
00:47:55 good for you.
00:47:57 So how can you kind of tailor baking into being a little bit healthy.
00:48:02 So, like I'll swap out like a refined flour for whole grain flour stuff like substitute
00:48:09 sugar for like honey or like jaggery or something like that and do those experiments and see
00:48:14 how it pans out.
00:48:15 So, I've been doing like lots of like muffins and cakes.
00:48:19 And I did try bread, I mean that's thing to do in the pandemic like people are baking
00:48:26 So, we've tried a bunch of new things.
00:48:31 I think people are getting in touch with their inner cooks in the pandemic as well.
00:48:36 And you read a lot.
00:48:37 So, what are you currently reading?
00:48:40 Currently I am reading a book called “The
00:48:46 Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee.
00:48:48 It traces like how natural history is and how the signs of hereditary came about.
00:48:58 So, it's super interesting because I've just read, I think about 50 pages of it but it's
00:49:05 one of those science books that's written in sort of approachable fashion for you to
00:49:11 So, I think stuff like that is interesting.
00:49:14 That's why I'm reading in the other one is “Factfulenss” by Hans Rosling which is
00:49:20 also a really nice book because it says the world is not as bad as we think it is it's
00:49:26 been more moving sort of in the right direction.
00:49:29 There are less people in poverty then say 50 to a 100 years ago people have more access
00:49:36 to clean water and food and say 50 to a 100 years ago there's less disease.
00:49:39 Mortality rates are low and stuff.
00:49:41 That’s making the argument that yes while day-to-day events I don't know if the book
00:49:46 would still survive this 2020 test but yeah, it's still a little bit positive and hopeful.
00:49:51 So, I guess it's helping me cope.
00:49:59 What are the inspiring designers you
00:50:06 look up to?
00:50:08 There's lots of people within the company
00:50:13 in Google that I look up to specifically.
00:50:17 Matt Jones back in times of berg before he even came to Google. There's a head of the Google creative
00:50:25 lab Tea Uglow and she's pretty amazing like how to intersperse, like technology with delight and not make
00:50:33 all things like useful and play around a little bit intersperse a sort of a little
00:50:41 bit more poetic and artistic views of technology into one place.
00:50:46 So, she's pretty amazing.
00:50:47 Matthias of course for like material design and everything that happened on an Android,
00:50:58 back in L and a lot of people outside the company.
00:51:03 I mean, there's so many areas like it's slipping my mind but people are doing amazing work
00:51:10 all across the world and different fields and aspects.
00:51:13 So, it's difficult for me to pick someone particular designer but I think some think-tanks
00:51:21 are doing really good work of course.
00:51:26 So, I don't know other names are not spring to mind.
00:51:33 We just wanted to know really what inspires
00:51:39 So that's why I talked about in a book in people and what keep you going.
00:51:44 And which is actually the topic of design inspire.
00:51:47 So that’s what I am looking at.
00:51:49 You also told me in Milan that one thing that you like is not just looking at design but
00:51:57 looking at other domains as well.
00:52:00 Broadening your arsenal with different thought process.
00:52:06 What would your advice would be for like people who are just joining the industry and
00:52:17 how should they look what they should fill themselves up with?
00:52:33 I guess to sound like a little bit repetitive.
00:52:52 I would suggest like look outside again of the design industry.
00:52:59 Keep reading outside of the design industry like know what's happening in the world on
00:53:03 the base, like economics, like geopolitics and even the news and like what's happening
00:53:11 these days.
00:53:12 I think things like you need to be a responsible citizen.
00:53:14 Especially now in these times I feel like we sort of had like a little bit of a critical
00:53:22 time in like world history where we need to both educate ourselves and the people around
00:53:29 us into making the word more like a little bit equal and exercising our right to vote
00:53:37 even like a simple thing like voting right.
00:53:40 Like you need to know who you need to vote for and why.
00:53:43 So, you need to follow like what people are doing and what are the histories behind it
00:53:49 and everything.
00:53:50 So, I mean this is not connected to design but yes of course that results in you being
00:53:55 a better-informed person in general and that'll help you in your career.
00:53:59 So, widen your perspectives.
00:54:01 I would just say that's the little nugget and they keep practicing.
00:54:07 Like there's stuff like new stuff will come along every year something like new tools
00:54:14 and like new things and like pick up, stuff like film making or like storytelling and
00:54:20 stuff like that which is not traditionally a part of design curriculum especially like
00:54:27 if you're doing say some sort of a UX course or I don't know, but if you do stuff like
00:54:35 that just figure out how you can make it figure out your medium of choice.
00:54:40 For talking about everything talking about your own ideas concepts and talking about
00:54:46 like the things that matter to you.
00:54:49 My final question and that would be on
00:54:52 gender equality.
00:54:53 how do you think, like how much responsibility we have as designers to make the world equal
00:55:00 in terms of these things mostly gender equality what do you think?
00:55:04 What are our responsibilities?
00:55:06 We have like a lot of responsibility on the
00:55:12 gender side specifically.
00:55:14 Like a story comes to mind where there was a book that I was reading about averages and
00:55:21 how back in the day airplane seats used to be fixed.
00:55:26 So, and they were made for like certain, like 6’ 5’’ feet like some inches man and
00:55:34 women were not able to sit there and slide it because it was basically a lot of things
00:55:40 are made for men.
00:55:42 I think a lot of I was reading about like, why a lot of doctors are trained on heart
00:55:50 attack symptoms that are specific to men.
00:55:52 So, if a woman is having a heart attack, they won't even realize it because a woman's body
00:55:57 reacts very differently to it.
00:55:59 These are the kinds of things that happen when you don't have enough data on a certain
00:56:04 section of society right.
00:56:07 Like, because traditionally the average is like the average male and not like an average
00:56:12 human being.
00:56:13 So, I think it's important for us to a question like whenever this is I mean, our offices
00:56:20 are too cold right.
00:56:21 Like that is one of the things that's always like offices are optimized for the kind of
00:56:29 temperature perception that men have.
00:56:31 So, it's also one of those things that needs to keep on changing.
00:56:36 It's not just gender.
00:56:39 There is like race the social economic problems as well, especially like where one facial
00:56:45 recognition software ended up detecting a black man space is like a baboon which is
00:56:53 like crazy right that shouldn't happen.
00:56:57 So, because it wasn't trained AI wasn't trained on black faces.
00:57:02 So, it should have been.
00:57:05 And those are the kinds of oversights that we need to think about.
00:57:10 Like we need to include everybody in like, especially in data sets and things like that
00:57:14 or in research all sorts of users for us to be able to make something that is for everyone.
00:57:20 I think you did talk about that, when you
00:57:24 talked about reflections also right?
00:57:26 Counting our own biases as well so you can see the world better that way.
00:57:33 So, interesting to look at all the things that you put today for us.
00:57:37 Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today.
00:57:43 And here's a small token from our side.
00:57:46 We would like to confer upon you the title of “Inspiring young designer” for inspiring
00:57:52 us today with your beautiful thoughts and inspiring thoughts.
00:57:59 As you yourself said right inspiring group of people are the most powerful in the world.
00:58:15 Thank you Every one!
Manasi talks about the perfect tool-kit for the designers and what design dilemmas lay ahead for the young designers of the world. She also talks about her work on Android at Google, London.