Do I need school to be...

an interdisciplinary designer? with Arimit Bhattacharya

November 25, 2021 Alex Villacís Season 1 Episode 18
Do I need school to be...
an interdisciplinary designer? with Arimit Bhattacharya
Show Notes Transcript

This week I’m talking with a person who was key to the creation of this podcast and the voice you listen at the beginning of this episode saying the same of the podcast, Arimit Bhattacharya. Now in the Netherlands for over 3 years studying Graphic Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy, his journey started long before and he wants to tell us about it and we’ll rant at each other like we always do.

On this very fun interview we spoke about:

  • Moving from India to The Netherlands
  • The importance of research when developing a product
  • Critical usage of technology
  • Why you can’t just slap an app on every problem
  • Talking to a rubber duck and more! 

Want to learn more about Arimit? Here are some links:
Website
LinkedIn
Instagram
Behance
CV

Arimit’s recommendation was fellow Designer Molly Mielke, check her out! Here are Molly’s Website, Twitter, Linkedin and Newsletter

In an effort to make this podcast accessible, we make transcripts of every episode. You’ll find the transcripts on our website here, https://doineedschooltobe.buzzsprout.com

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Arimit Bhattacharya:

Before mark, there was a sense of ego in variables coming from in terms of Look at this beauty I have made, it was a it was technical prowess being showed off. From a point of technological optimism, I think there throw tech at a problem, and hopefully it will solve itself. And I think working with Mark led to me developing a more critical thought process and a more reflective thought process. And that helps me recontextualize myself, even before I start off on a project know, like,

Alex Villacis:

Hello, friend. And welcome back to another episode of joining school to be the podcast in which we Alex is going to sit down with creatives and ask them about their journey into the creative field, focusing on their education, the teachers who shaped them, the bucks are shaped in the movies, in general, what their journey was like, if you're somebody who is thinking about entering the creative field, I hope this show will be a resource to you, and show you that we all have different paths. And they are all valid. So let's go have a great guest for you this week, you actually already know His voice, because he is actually the one who interviewed me on episode one of this podcast. And he's also the voice you always hear the beginning unconscious to mind saying the name of the podcast. He's my friend, Ahmed. He's a really cool dude, the youngest person I've interviewed on this podcast so far, a hilarious person, a true visionary, and somebody I love arguing with. Like, seriously, I had to cut out like 30 minutes of ranting on HR sides to get this episode to be the proper length. So I really hope you enjoyed this conversation with Ahmed. And don't worry, he will say his last name. I just said they cannot pronounce it. But it's fine. He cannot pronounce mine either. So we're squared. Anyways, let's go to the interview with Armut. This is gonna be such a weird episode.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Yeah, I know. I feel like we need a lawyer here.

Alex Villacis:

No, we're fine. It's already recorded. We can like contest later.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

But as you're editing, it's because

Alex Villacis:

the idea for this podcast was born a year and a half ago. Maybe I'm guessing.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I mean, we were planning on doing a podcast for approximately almost two years at this point. Honestly, it's

Alex Villacis:

almost two years. Yeah, almost two years. But the idea for this specific podcast was around a year. Yes, we were six months thinking we should do something. But we don't know what this episode is going to be super ranty. But we'll get some content out of it. I promise.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Hopefully, fingers crossed. Otherwise, they'll just be like three hours of us ranting about anything. Oh, gosh.

Alex Villacis:

I shouldn't curse. Okay. Again, post. Um, but yeah, so the idea of this podcast was originally an idea that Armand and I had and then it mutated to me doing it on my own. But here I am. In service, giving respect.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I'm here to check up on my baby. The person that helped me

Alex Villacis:

in this journey that was part like yeah, baby daddy is the baby daddy of this podcast. Even though

Arimit Bhattacharya:

baby daddy is the weirdest toy you're gonna come up with for that.

Alex Villacis:

I don't know what to call it. But anyways, so here we are with our maid and please say your last name because I cannot pronounce it for the life of me.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Bhattacharya or Bhattacharjee, I have do suffixes. Yes, that's the word to self access to my last name,

Alex Villacis:

Jesus Christ. So tell the audience who you are and where you're currently working on.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Right? What am I good question? I have no idea. Oh, so I'm a designer and developer. So basically, I just make things without really caring too much about the specific discipline they fall under. But a lot of my work tends to revolve around digital tools and interaction design. So clearly, I do have some kind of domain. What is the second question?

Alex Villacis:

The second question is, how did you get here?

Arimit Bhattacharya:

How did I know? Wait, the first question I do Barstow?

Alex Villacis:

Yeah. Oh, yeah. The second part was What are you currently working on? Oh,

Arimit Bhattacharya:

yes. So I just finished my internship as you know, and so did you I think, yes, I internship bros. And now I'm working on a freelance project, which is this interactive installation, and we are pitching it to this art fund next week. As for the second stage of funding, which is super fun. I've actually been working on this thing for I think the past three or four months, and I swear this thing kept me alive during the internship like this was like my passion project on the side while everything was going on with my internship. So yes, I'm glad to see it finally come to life.

Alex Villacis:

So I think your story is very interesting, because so we met in the academy in the Willem de Kooning Academy, and on like, a lot of us you came with ash shitload of experience. Before we came, you came here with a lot more experience, the rest of us did, like the rest of us came here feeling like, Okay, I don't know what I'm gonna do. I don't know what I'm gonna experiment with. But you had already been in hackaton. So you had been in, you had a lot of knowledge that the rest of us didn't have technical knowledge.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I thought the technical knowledge wise, yeah,

Alex Villacis:

yeah. And how did you get into that? So how did you, we got started another let's, let's go back to like when you started learning, like, how did you get here to now asking for funding for a project? Like, How was the journey there?

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Oh, that's a very long journey to compress, though.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, just give us like, one minute on each part. So um,

Arimit Bhattacharya:

how I started off is, so I used to draw a bunch in school as like, 99% of the people here, of course, oh, every designer starts around fifth grade. I was like, Yo, it would be kind of cool if I could turn these drawings into 3d. And that's when I learned my first design software, which is blender, because how can I make 3d things and then I learned blender. And we have this computer club in our school. It's called Code warriors. It's very edgy, fun name. The logo is in Joker man, by the way, and it's still a joker mine to this day. And I love it so much for that. But basically, we went to a lot of hackathons where the hackathon competitions were divided by the disciplines. So there was a 3d modelling competition, graphic design, competition, or motion graphics, competition, etc, also for programming and stuff. So they took me on, because there weren't that many people doing 3d modelling. So they just needed everyone they could find. So me in seventh grade, it took me a couple of years to get good at it. So me in seventh grade started going to these hackathons. And back then I wasn't winning that much. But what was more important was that the people I was exposing myself to in these hackathons, because these are people who had more knowledge than me and other disciplines as well. But the other disciplines were sort of parallel to parallely, related to 3d modelling. So for instance, game development. So game development uses 3d modelling. But 3d modelling is a very small part of game development. In fact, I think game development is a very nice example. Because it's all combines every discipline, you can think of this programming, there's graphic design, there's motion graphics, pretty much everything. So that's the second thing, I tried my hand and I was I was, I was gonna try game development. So seven, degrade me or downloaded unity. And I was like, Yo, I'm gonna check this out. That's how I first familiarised myself with programming, by the way, because you had to learn C sharp to write scripts in unity. And ELA as the years progress, I was ninth grade 10th grade came on, I got into graphic design motion graphics, and in 11th and 12th grade, specifically, I think, I became more aware of the entire field of interaction and UX design slash product design. So that's when I started working in a way that was more aware of the business aspects of products and the technical aspects of products. I don't like the word product, by the way, I think I like the word tool more. But that's really recent realisation. Okay, maybe I'll touch on that later.

Alex Villacis:

Yes. Keep it I will keep it. I will keep all of this

Arimit Bhattacharya:

you will just delete all of your fumbles and just keep all of my

Alex Villacis:

Why are you revealing my secrets that way? I would, I will. I'm gonna go. But I think it's very interesting because you are talking about going from a more almost artistic approach and very focused think taking a more holistic approach, which is something that many times in Art Education were deterred from, it's like don't think about the commercial part stay in the creative part in the innovation part. So it's very interesting that through getting to know these people have been exposed to this environment you're getting to that. And so you are taking that approach and more holistic approach. I hated that word I've gone to love I've grown to love it for some reason. You

Arimit Bhattacharya:

just sound smart when you say like, I think we should do this or you can use it in any context.

Alex Villacis:

The thing is that holistic to me used to sound like hippie, almost like witchcraft. Now, for some reason, a holistic approach was always more from the left the more let's use herbs let's let's Let's kill it let's there's a broken leg, a holistic approach to cure it is just to throw throw holy water on it.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Like anyone saying holistic the I automatically imagine them on this TED talk stage, holding a mic addressing an entire audience,

Alex Villacis:

but because now I've learned I've educated myself. And now I know that holistic means looking at the thing as a whole. It's not holistic as holistic hippie witchcraft is more holistic as a whole. And I'm like, Oh, you can always learn new things.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I cannot understand the mental associations association between holistic and heavy.

Alex Villacis:

I don't know just let me have my associations. Okay. Okay, so And how did you get from all of these? How did you get to the Netherlands?

Arimit Bhattacharya:

So kind of actually continuing on the thing you were saying about this difference, where I went from a more artistic approach to a more holistic approach where it's the other way around often in art school, but not the other way around, I would say, but maybe they do tend to push you towards a more creative, innovative direction, which is actually nice. My journey was kind of like a sine wave in the sense that I started from a more artistic approach. Then towards the end of high school, I started looking at things from a more business and technical perspective as well, like, that was an addition to my creative approach. So coming from high school to art school, I entered art school with a lot of these preconceived notions around how design should be done, like I was like, yes, you should consider the business aspect very closely. And you should consider the technical aspect and etc, etc. But I think an interesting evolution that happened through high school is that I expanded my definitions of exactly what the right way is. Because earlier, I was like, there was there was sort of a narrow mindedness around what makes a certain thing good from a business perspective or good from a technical perspective. And I think, not only did I expand my definition of what it's like to do creative work, or what it's what it means for something to be innovative, but also expanded my definitions of for it is to be a good business. Why is something technically well made? I feel like I'm using business and technically like in a ping pong way. It's fine. Yeah. So it's coming through. So yeah, that was that was an interesting evolution. And I think in the in the first year of Willem de Kooning, I think that's when I actually started building my technical skills in regards to things outside of the design field. So things like programming. Like I did some game development back in seventh grade. But that was a very base level familiarity with very basic programming concepts. And I think that's when I started delving more into straight up web development, or straight up programming. And slowly, I think I started building those skills. And by the middle of the second year, I gained a good level of confidence in using these kinds of tools. Even though I'm still learning like, I'm, I think, end of my first year was probably when I was on the peak of that confidence versus skill. graph that you keep seeing. And then yeah, I humbled myself, more like, Okay, you're not like, God or audio either.

Alex Villacis:

Chill, it's like, relax. Oh, no, but the cool thing I have done so many cool projects, I remember specially and I didn't have the heart to tell you this. Remember, I think was first year you did the keyboard for blind people. Oh, yeah. Yeah, that already existed. Yeah, no, yeah. If I might, as well, you were so excited about like, by the you came out with it. And that was thinking the entire time that already exist. But the fact that you came up with it, and the technology and how and the gestures that you can use, it served a purpose, it's I think that's why I love the product, the project so much, because it wasn't just blind innovation and going to innovate for the sake of innovating. It was thinking about a user group that was completely different from you. And that's something that we don't see enough. In the design world, I think we design websites, thinking of people like you and me, who can see, more or less perfectly, I wear glasses, you also need visual aids. But then there's this whole segment of people who don't have that, and we're not designing for them, we're not being taught how to design for them. But then you came up with this thing that was completely different. And that's why I liked it so much.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I think I almost dislike that project. No. Because, um, I disagree with that not being innovation for the sake of innovation, because I think, like you said, um, I knew that those kinds of keyboards existed. And in fact, there is an easier version of it video phone as well. Like, you can use the phone as a Braille keyboard. Um, basically, I did not. I wanted to design for the user group of the visually impaired. But I did not familiarise myself with the struggles of the user group or the user group themselves enough before approaching the problem. So I approached it from a more technical designer perspective. And in this case, it wasn't that harmful because it was a school project and people can see the product. I think

Alex Villacis:

it can be forgiven because it was a school project. exactly the thing that if we had been a real life project, we would have done testing at the end user testing, seeing what they think run interviews and stuff like that. But before given your students

Arimit Bhattacharya:

that's also very important, I think for every school project because Ultimately, a lot of the habits that you build up in school do will flow into your because you're essentially emulating what how you would actually approach a project, even if you're doing it for the sake of like an assignment or something. Um, so now I think I would start off from a more solid, research based beginning foundation, and then build upon that with the technical innovations and whatever I was doing at the time. And I think even now, like, the problem is, you see this methodology being applied to real life products where people are designing products for target users without familiarising themselves with the target group. And it does reflect in how that product just does not cater to a certain group the viewers intended Yeah. And you found out you only find out so much later.

Alex Villacis:

I, where do you think that comes from? Let's rant a little bit. Where do you think that comes from? I think it comes from the idea that you need that the need to make something and be so focused on the fact that you're making it and nothing you know who you're making it for. I think it's because you want that badge of honour of saying that you made a thing? Why do you think this is the way that the design goes before the research?

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I think with the advent of the culture around UX, I think that problem is being slightly tackled in some way where people are a little more conscious that okay, maybe we should do a lot of these interviews and user tests and preliminary research before just diving straight into the design aspect of it. But outside of that field, and also often like inside that will To be honest, I think that need to create an it's almost, I think, an ego boost to, like look at this thing which will save this demographic of people and enhance their lives. So I think there's a bit of that saviour complex that comes into creating something for a demographic almost too hastily. And I think there are these two worlds, which don't talk to each other enough, which is the world of critical reflection and critical usage of technology, for instance, and practical implementation, and practical usage. Because a lot of times, I see that, and especially if you look at a tech culture on Twitter, for example, even though Twitter is obviously very, there's a bit of selection bias going on, and what kind of tech culture you get exposed to they have

Alex Villacis:

their own, they have their own issues now.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

There is a sort of optimism and faith put in technology. And that is often harmful and almost disrespectful to the problem, which it is trying to solve a man because you can't just slap an app on top of any problem and call it a day. I think that critical reflection and analysis of the user group you're targeting or the people who might be using the thing that you create, or who might be even exposed to the thing you create because ultimately, your product isn't just being seen by the people who use it. It's also in a con in context, it's around other people as well. And not analysing. Okay, that was a very poorly worded.

Alex Villacis:

No, I mean, it's great. And I think I feel seen right now. I feel related to I feel like somebody understands why am I so pissed off when people say that Bitcoin and blockchain will save the world. It's very upsetting to me, especially like I spend a lot of time in clubhouse that's one of the reasons that I started this podcast because clubhouse gave me confidence, one of my favourite social media apps, if not the favourite. But you always find those groups of people saying like, Yeah, we're gonna fix the world, from poverty, hunger and human rights violations through Bitcoin and blockchain. And like you said, I also feel like that's disrespectful to the prop to the problem. Because I've heard it here in this academy from people not from the Academy itself from students at the Academy, the Academy had not cannot be held responsible for statements saying things like we why are we focusing on how did the same print, if in 10 years books will no longer exist? Because this is overly optimistic attitude towards technology, thinking that technology will overtake us? And my answer to that is always it might not seem real to you to that person or not to you. I know that is real for you because you're a smart person involved in the world. But for some people, it's not real. The fact that There are places in this world where there is no electricity, there is no internet, there is no access to constant water. And there so yeah, but those are the end they cannot believe in, I tell them Yeah, do you know what in the town where my mom was born, which is a town where my family still lives in Honduras, they don't get a constant electricity. So to them, you telling them that Bitcoin and blockchain is gonna solve their lives? How if there is not accessible to them? So I totally agree there is this over optimism, this over reliance in technology, not thinking that technology is not accessible to everybody. And even if you say, even if you say 1% of the world doesn't have access to technology, it is still a lot of people that you are, and it's like you said, it's disrespectful to the problem. And I love that I love how you put it into words. But now we're here. And I want to ask you, with all these great ideas that you have, and I love the idea that you're this critic, this critical view towards technology, what brought you there, like, did you have any teachers or experiences or books or movies, or whatever that put you in this path that served as teachers for you.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I think, um, towards the end of my high school, I was at that point where I had this optimistic view towards technology. And that also helped facilitate a lot of these narrow minded ideas that I had about how design should be done, how technology should be used, etc, etc. And I think in art school, in my first year, especially like, when I just got here, it was kind of a cultural shock, because, well, culture, less of a cultural shock, more of a, almost a disciplinary shock, where the people who were the people I encountered at this Academy had a very different idea of how design should be approached and how things should be done. And a lot of the times the immediate contrast, because it's very easy to notice black and white contrast, right? The opposite end of the spectrum was just go ham, and just make something, make 50 iterations and see if something sticks. And honestly, that is a very legit methodology of working as well, like it's a, it's super useful in certain contexts. And I think that for semester, do you remember the semester in which we were given two mediums? Yes. And horribly 15 pieces or week? artwork, or whatever? You would call it posters? I think, a week? Yeah. And I really struggled with that. Because

Alex Villacis:

what format the UK because I have mentioned that assignment before in the podcast, what format did you get?

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I got a cell screen and Rezo. Yeah, but

Alex Villacis:

what sizes? Oh,

Arimit Bhattacharya:

five, I think, or a six? I got lucky. Like, yeah, we

Alex Villacis:

got lucky. We both got lucky, because in a previous interview, and that's a good thing, because that tells me that you have to go after Naomi, we were talking about the in education, how sometimes we teachers ignore the social economical aspect of each student. So we we talked about how some people got 200, which he said, gigantic freaking format. And it wasn't the same the expenses that you and I had in that assignment, were not the same as expenses that I think was Jordi, Jordi had a zero, immediately and these clip idea when the teacher said, Oh, you can use money shouldn't be an issue, or you should figure it out. It's like, you have to give them guidance on how to figure it out. How are you willing to give us guidance, guidance on the creative part, but you're not giving us guidance on the practical part of actually making these things?

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Yeah, that is very true. And it's also time investment, like we all know, like, as your brains take forever compared to his experience, where you can print like three fours and suddenly you have like, what is it? How many? How many? If I was gonna fit in any for to do Yeah, see, oh, 466.

Alex Villacis:

Hey, friend, it's Alex just interrupting this conversation to remind you that in order to have the optimal experience, and enjoy all the links in the show notes, you can subscribe to the show on any platform you're using to listen to this podcast. And yeah, it supports the show, he will improve the algorithm for you. So he would show you more shows like this one you will potentially like. And if you wish to support the show, you can follow us on social media, all the links are in the show notes as well as a link to buy me a coffee, which Yeah, will help pay for the hosting. And I also love coffee. Thank you for joining me on this episode and letting me be in your ears. And now we'll go back to my conversation with armit. So that that clash that first clash with culture and the teachers that you are involved with.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I think I'm just coming back to that point of economics for a second. I think it even plays a huge part in the disciplines we choose. Because I remember one of the reasons that I am so attracted to digital design is because it's a very it's a very non committal medium, almost where you don't have to go out and get a printer or hook yourself up. You don't have to pay for these sorts of paper. Like as long as for example, if you want to get started in web design, technically you could get by with like, just a laptop or something. Yeah. Even though like, obviously being familiarised with physical mediums helps in the process. But if you're just looking at the bare minimum of okay, what do I need to create a book versus what do I need to create a website. These are completely different in terms of the tools that they call for. But expecting everyone who has to create an A zero poster to go with the digital medium, also puts them in a narrow, also gives them a very narrow bot for how they can achieve final results without spending like 200 euros on easy reprints

Alex Villacis:

Exactly. Or ticket out ACR prints like imagine somebody who got a zero in a recent printer. How many? How many sheets? Do you have to print? How many methods do you have to make each method costs money? Yeah. Like it is an aspect.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I think I think that's why I appreciate the interaction station in the school. Because if you're wondering over the digital mediums, for example, there are things which can get expensive, for example, like I've worked with VR headsets before and I would never go out and buy a VR headset by myself at least like currently, but it's so easy to like, borrow one of these headsets that the school does give out things which are useful. Okay, that's

Alex Villacis:

it. No, I agree. And exactly it's talking about like making these podcasts like we're recording right now on the Zoom h6, the zoom h6, 300 bucks. Yeah, I didn't buy it. I rented it. I got it for free. It's, it's a path like the microphones are we're using only one of them actually bad. Yep. That was my personal microphone, Sammy the microphone.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

And then I'm still gonna finish by the way.

Alex Villacis:

But yeah, and I love that you brought up the interaction station, because you're actually a teacher, well, a pal, student as a student, the system, but you're teaching people in the interaction station? Yeah. What's that? Like? Like? Do you think that you got a different insight into your material into your work? Because you have to teach it to somebody else?

Arimit Bhattacharya:

For sure, I think I think I have very limited experience in teaching, like consciously teaching people. And most of that most of that experience comes from working at the interaction station. And it's not until you try to teach a concept to people who are unfamiliar with a certain discipline until you realise how much you picked up without consciously thinking about it. Because for example, if I'm explaining a code snippet to someone, I will glance through what I think are the important aspects of how that snippet was written. But then the person will be like, Oh, why did you use curly brackets instead of round brackets? Or, in my mind is always like, yeah, because that's just how it is. But yeah, when someone asked us how God wanted it, I mean, how would you explain why syntaxes are rigid, and why you can't move them around so easily. So I think it it helps major mindset more flexible in terms of how you're willing to approach your own discipline, when you explain it to others. And in fact, there's a very good concept. Well, concept, a very good term in a lot of programming circles is called talking to the rubber duck, which comes from this one dude who used to keep a rubber rubber duck next to his desk or something, and talk to it to explain a certain problem to it whenever he was having trouble. And the entire reason he would do this is because explaining the problem to someone else helped him understand the problem better in his mind. Yeah, I think a lot of that happens, VID. Me as well when I'm teaching someone at the interaction station, because there are these things that I think I understand, but I actually don't completely understand that there is almost like a mental black box. And explaining something to someone feels like you're intentionally ripping that black box open to figure out okay, exactly. Why do I think the way I do? Where do my opinions come from? Because until you are challenged by someone else on those opinions, you can be perfectly comfortable just having the biases you have having the subjectivity you have. Yes, so I think I am not very well versed as a teacher, I don't think I should give any advice on how to teach people or anything like that, but as a tool for learning. I think teaching is amazing. That's great.

Alex Villacis:

And that links perfectly to the interview I had with ginger, which she says that that's actually a tool that ginger uses in asking students to explain things to each other, that we think that when they break us up into groups, it's just a pestles off. It's just to annoy us because they have to work in teams. But it is just the fact that when a student has to explain something to another student, they have to review it in there. head. And then they realise, oh, wait, I don't understand this correctly, because I cannot explain it. So I have to like go over it and figure out how it is. And then I can explain to somebody else, or explain it in different words that the other person will understand. Like, I'm guessing that if you were to explain a line of code to somebody who's well versed in code, you use a different vocabulary that you use with little me,

Arimit Bhattacharya:

who is very understand code man,

Alex Villacis:

I understand I understand codes, the sense that I know what is not possible.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I think that's actually a very important aspect.

Alex Villacis:

So um, where do you see the future of creative education going?

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I think this is basically coming from nowhere. But I this is this is an aspiration, I hope it goes towards flexibility. And I think we do see that pattern in some places where there are just so many aspects of life in general, which had towards which tend towards flexibility once we have What's the word for abundance? Yes. Once we have an abundance of options and technologies and choices, if you are into completely physical education, I think there are plenty of benefits to physical education and physical based learning, which you should be able to read. But on the other hand, there are also a lot of benefits through digital education. Same with hybrid, obviously, it's the best of both worlds are both worlds. Depends on your choice. So yeah, I think I think this format of schools deciding this rigid structure of this is how much physical versus digital offer curriculum we will have, and then imposing it upon students. I believe, as an aspiration that should be done away with, I think students, students should be able to choose how, how they would like to approach their own choices in terms of digital versus physical. But then there is another aspect of it, which is a little bit it's away from the digital, digital physical spectrum. And that's about liberty in what you want to learn. Because I could have done, I could have gone to a design school in India as well, for instance. And another option on my mind was the US because you have some of the best design schools over there as well, well, best in some top 10 list on some random website. But I think there are really different design cultures in a lot of these schools. For instance, I know that a lot of my viewers who go to design schools in India have a more rigid expectation of them for how they should approach a certain project or what they should deliver towards the end of it. I think Willem de Kooning is on the complete other end of the spectrum where there are I basically don't work as a graphic designer, like, I feel like an imposter in the class, because a lot of my work does end up being interaction design, which involves graphic design to some extent, but for the most part, I'm presenting it as a research to an okay, not a research tool. But a tool that I've created, and often are focusing on the research aspects of it rather than perhaps the visual aspects of it. But I just wrap it in this container of technically is graphic design. And schools are like the school is like, well, I can't say no to that. So I think I really love the flexibility of that over here because honestly, I feel like a lot of what I read from Willem de Kooning is the tools and teachers and people rather than the curriculum itself. But then you look at colleges in the US, for example, and a lot of this is anecdotal, because I've never been I've never attended a design school in the in India or the US. But oh, by the way, entrance exam, there is a really popular design school while the most popular design school in India it's called an ID. And for some reason, the entrance exam has a multiple choice questionnaire about general knowledge, yet doesn't make sense to me that Jesus Christ anyway, so the US seems like a nice middle ground to me there. There is a little more structure in okay, if you're doing graphic design, you are going to learn for example, the essence of typography or layout, etc, which has not taught to us that formally or in like, such a structured manner in Willem de Kooning. I do think there's a culture here of breaking the rules before you know the rules. which I think that's why self initiative is really important in a place like this, especially because you have to put your own effort and your own motivation into learning the rules themselves behind typography, for instance, or behind UX design. And this, and then that gives you the tools that you need to learn why you need to obey the rules. And that's the very cliche way of saying it, but still holds true, in my opinion. And the US, I think there's a more structured way of teaching you the rules first, and then expecting you to see where the edges of the box are, and seeing if you can poke your finger out of it. So I think there's this really interesting spectrum between India, us and the Netherlands in terms of how authoritative an art school can be. And I think there should be some degree of liberty and choosing how authoritative you want your curriculum to be as well, because I think it's a huge privilege for me to come out of India into the Netherlands to be able to study here, obviously, not everyone has that privilege, I think that globalisation have a culture in which you should be able to choose how digital or how physical you want your education to be, for and also on this more two dimensional spectrum, how authoritarian or how libertarian, you want your syllabi to be. I think having flexibility in that two dimensional map would be really important. I don't have any proposals about how we could get there. But I really wish there could be some thought into how we can achieve this kind of flexibility. And maybe we won't get to a place where you can literally just okay, I wanted to be 70%, authoritarian and 30% digital, but having a broader, having maybe more institutions, which offer these different ratios spread out in a more globalised manner, instead of being concentrated in one particular geographical area. Or maybe that's where the physical versus digital argument plays in there. You don't have to be in the Netherlands to study in a Dutch art institution. So yeah, that's just a ramble of thoughts and wishes and hopes and aspirations.

Alex Villacis:

But they are very beautiful. And yeah, I think it's, it's just a wish, I think it's a good wish to have to say, and I think it can impact people in many ways, like neurodiverse people, maybe they can say like, Hey, would it be possible that I take 80% of my classes online, because it's easier for me to focus when I'm alone, and just 10%, which is like the feedback sessions, for example, be actually physically there are somebody who has a physical disability, or somebody who only wants to be present, like physically present in class because they need that support or because just enjoy the human interaction. So allowing that flexibility would allow more people to access occasion and to take the best and to take the most out of it. So yeah, I think that's very beautiful.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

There was like more collaboration with your Art Institutes. Imagine if I someone studying in stuff, someone studying in India could follow a Dutch art curriculum, while using the tools available in India itself. So they don't have to go to the Netherlands, they could use the tools available to the Art Institute, which is five kilometres from them.

Alex Villacis:

Next step, imagine if so if you could collaborate with somebody who is in Latin America, in an engineering school, if we could have collaborations like are more transdisciplinary. So we don't have only projects who are artistic. We have projects who are artistic and scientific.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

I know so many projects, both in engineering schools and in design schools, which would benefit so much, literally, I think last week, a friend of mine who's studying software engineering was like, Yo, can you help me out with this project because she needed a UX and visual design aid for some products she's making. And we constantly come across situations in Willem de Kooning, where if there was someone who was more proficient in software engineering, the possibilities of what could be done in terms of the scope of the project, in terms of even how you think about the project, in general, that would expand so much.

Alex Villacis:

I mean, imagine if you had had when you were making the project for the blind, if you had had access to some to an ophthalmologist, or a person or visual therapist, that person that could have told you like, hey, this could work in this way and other ways. In my social innovation course. We call it a social partner, which is a person that is an expert in that topic, and they can give you that feedback. And I think that in the realm of design is super necessary and can enrich your product. It can reach your products, your projects, or your tools or whatever you want to call them services in a great way. So thank you so much for being with me here today are made. I think we had a very ranty we're very interesting episode. And so is there anything you would like To promote right now, a book a movie, it can be your word can be a website that you liked. It can be a book that you read or a movie that you watch, and you just want to tell the audience about because you think it will help them in their creative journey. You can also share your own. That's also fine.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Now getting those I'm not gonna be that late, man. Man, there's just too much

Alex Villacis:

maybe a designer, a designer that you like that you think.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Molly Mielke dude, I want to get in touch with her. And I've been meaning to hit her for so long because she has the same thing where she tries to balance critical technology with practical implementation. I'm like, yo, but I want to do.

Alex Villacis:

okay okay, so Molly Mielke.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Yeah.

Alex Villacis:

Okay, I'm gonna look her up. And I'm gonna add her Instagram, right? With your website, probably in the show notes. I don't know what I'm going to put in the show notes. But I will put them two together. And maybe you can like DM her and or I can send like, Hey, you were mentioned on this podcast, you want to give a comment on it? And maybe that's how you become friends.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Oh, if you're listening to this, I'm sorry, feel fucked up your last name.

Alex Villacis:

Well, thank you so much. It was great having you.

Arimit Bhattacharya:

Alright, bye bye.

Alex Villacis:

Jesus Christ. I mean, the amount of ranting that I had to get off this episode is ridiculous. But that's just how things go when army and I get together to talk about whatever it was another to have. I think it was a great show cool, super valuable insights. And if you want to follow Ahmed and all his social medias or check out his work, you'll find links to that in the show notes. And as we come to the end of the show, I want to thank you for joining me on another episode and give me your time. I hope you're enjoying this conversations. And please subscribe to the show and give us a review or give us any feedback you can reach out to us on social media as well. All the links are in the show notes. To let us know if you have questions who would like to ask creatives, where would you like to learn? If you have somebody to recommend please let us know. I am here to make something great for you. That said again, thank you and hope to be again in your ears next week. Keep learning and stay curious. Bye