Itu joined DesignTalk, a webinar powered by Nasscom Design4India, moderated by Gerard J Rego to share his experiences as a design practitioner, his views on India’s design industry, the value of good design to businesses and more

Watch the full webinar 

Here’s a transcript for the talk.

Gerard J Rego:
Welcome to this podcast or webcast, love to have you on this show with Design4India, the NASSCOM house. It’s the biggest summon of your ability, experiences, and obviously diversity.

I think you’ve had a pretty credible career starting in architecture then moving on to design and you’ve done some incredible work—being featured among the world’s best designs, to the awards you’ve got, regular columns with journals like Business Standard and a whole bunch of others. Would love to have you quickly introduce yourself to what we are today, what you do. And very importantly, once again, welcome and welcome to everybody that’s on this webcast at design talk with NASSCOM and Design4India.

Itu over to you.

Itu Chaudhuri:
Hi everybody. I’m honoured to be here. Hello, Gerard, it’s interesting, and I should say a little daunting for me to be interviewed by someone like you. I won’t detail all your many achievements as you have done mine just to save time. I guess everybody knows what they are.

So, the divide between us isn’t that great because as a design studio and as a design person, my approach has always been, very very aggressive about looking under the hoods of our clients’ businesses. And we definitely do get involved in arguing the business cases for what we do and as well as what our clients do, because we don’t find design without the aspect of strategy, terribly satisfying.

We do live in a world that includes giving form to things, but it’s also, what you might call a phase that lies above that, at a higher level. So, I guess studying architecture did help in that way. I never practiced architecture. I like to say I retired upon graduation so I’m not to be accused of any of the buildings that you’ve seen. But what architecture does do, is the reverse of scaling. That is to say, it tells you how to break up very large problems into tractable problems and in a very top down kind of way. It helps you to break down, say something like an ocean liner into a set of components that you can manage without losing track of the whole. So it’s a wonderful discipline that teaches that. It’s also a wonderful mix of the pragmatic, theoretical, social, technological and the cultural. So, I think it’s a damn good general education, actually.

Gerard: Yeah, and I must add that you’ve got a fantastic sense of humour, which you obviously need, if you’re in the world of design and creativity.

Itu: I think so, I think so.

Gerard: A lot of people end up driving you crazy, right? You need the humour to kind of keep the creativity going and keep the balance in the room.

Itu: Also, as a defence against blackness.

Gerard: You’re right. So like I said, your humour’s fantastic. It’s very British though, but very, very good. Very rarely do people say ‘I retired after graduation’, never heard of it before. Um, I think only Warren Buffett said that, but, yeah, it’s just fantastic to hear someone say that.

And maybe you should start with that. Maybe talk about what drove you to think that which is very rare in societies like we have in South Asia or around the world where someone says, I’ve graduated out of school or engineering or architecture and with my undergrad degree or my master’s, but I’m actually going to step back and do something completely different. And you picked a spot, at a very early time in the entire world of design. Like going through your background, it reminded me in some way of the first class Steve Jobs took where he went to look at fonts, for example. So could you give us a little about that? That’s a very rare off the beaten path kind of career move at a very young age.

Itu: You know Gerard, I would like to kind of lower the expectations around that answer by telling you that, it’s actually not as uncommon as we think. Partly because, architecture provides a very good general design education. And partly because, I believe that architecture and the way we were taught was quite disillusioning in the sense that many of us were very dissatisfied with what we learned in college. We felt that, somehow, the education they had managed to teach us everything except the central issues in designing architecture. It equipped us in many ways to join an architecture practice. That’s a different thing than tackling the beast called architecture head on.

And it’s a combination of that disillusionment, and also the sense of empowerment that studying architecture gives you, that quite a few architects have wandered off to do things other than architecture. Sometimes along with studying architecture and sometimes they’ve taken a turn altogether. So it does happen.

In my case, I came at it from a certain direction, which was an interest in lettering. So interest in lettering led to an interest in typography and then it was meeting some key people in my life that gave me the confidence that I could switch, and I actually switched in college. So in my third year I took a year off and I illustrated a series of children’s books, and they actually won an award! In the kind of primitive way that awards used to be back in the day, when the president bumped your hand on a stage and some 200 photographers clicked flashlight pictures, and then showed up to give you 8×11 glossy black and white prints for 35 bucks a pop or something.

So, it was actually quite early, and it’s not as rare as you think. Every architect falsely or genuinely considers himself capable of doing anything. So that’s the positive side of being educated in architecture.

Gerard: And so, from the little that you’ve shared, could we then say there’s a hint of genius then? Because very rarely people get out of their third year and go and do something that wins an award from the president of a country, that’s rare. So obviously it meant two things, A – you believed in your own ideas, very important, and B – you were foolish enough to try them. And you need that combination because if you don’t believe in your own ideas and you’re foolish enough to try them, then it’s not going to work anyway.

Itu: Yeah, I was lucky. I was born to parents who are themselves quite multidisciplinary. So my father was a rather well known sculptor. And my mother is, and still continues to practice as a ceramic artist and as a potter. I grew up seeing architects in our house, I grew up seeing things being designed in our house. My father would fool around doing furniture design, and he would now and then do some graphic design and without thinking of himself as a graphic designer or a furniture designer, he would do some pretty competent work. Looking back I think it was pretty competent work, in those areas.

So, I have never thought of art and design as separate and a part of me still doesn’t today. Even though designers are trained in the orthodoxy that this is not art, and this is design. I understand and I buy that, but there’s a part of your heart which should be in the realm of art. And if you’re not some kind of an artist then as a designer I think you’re also some kind of moron, you know? So I do believe and disbelieve that proposition. I never saw them as different, and I never thought that architecture has to be something distinct from graphic design and I was so naive. I wanted to, and I would still love to do that. I’d love to have a design practice with five different disciplines working together.

You know, pentagram started like that in London, back in the day, there was a filmmaker, an architect, two graphic designers. It’s still very much a part of who I am. We love tackling spaces, we love technology. A friend of mine once said something to me, he said, good designers don’t care what they’re designing. So that’s true at the heart of it. And, without prejudice to the idea that domain knowledge is important, you do need to learn those things, but it’s not unlearnable. The art of learning something as an outsider, the art of learning something without becoming a specialist in it, that peculiar designer way of learning things, which is, at once superficial and deep is necessary because every project is going to require you to learn something you didn’t know.

Gerard: Absolutely.

Itu: And to kind of master something without mastering it is really…how do I say it? It’s faking a knowledge of something. But it’s genuine fake, it’s not ‘fake’ fake.

Gerard: Yeah, that’s interesting because I work in the area of computational behavioural mechanism design which is an interdisciplinary approach. It’s got computational sciences, mechanism design, and behavioural sciences and decision sciences.

So the other day I was talking to a group at Cambridge and I said that AI and machine learning is great at solving repetitive problems. Something that you can repeat, what’s called STEM problems. Example, auditing a balance sheet, looking at diagnostics, stuff like that.

But we work in the area of wicked problems where every challenge is unique, every solution is unique and is not something you can keep repeating over time. So for example, there was an architect in the group, he was a Bachelor’s in Architecture, a Master’s and PhD in Computer Science. And I told him that I’m not an architect, but I look at architecture as a social challenge. How do you get people to get together in an environment? How do you get people to interact? How do you get people to navigate themselves? So it’s a social challenge and not just a structural challenge. And it’s interesting, talking to you, I see that coming out quite strongly. So starting your first design company, studio, whatever you call it, what led you to be an entrepreneur?

Itu: Yeah, well, this is not an act of great courage on my part because, I don’t think the options existed. The opportunities that we give young designers in our office, I’m sitting across the room and there are 12 or 15 of them working right here, didn’t exist when I was trying to try to learn design. There were just like a handful of design practices and the rest were really advertising agencies. And, I admire advertising, but I was quite clear that that’s not where I was going to go. And so there was very little option if you wanted to practice, as by being an entrepreneur and no one to stop you. I remain entrepreneurial but I don’t think we’ve ever graduated to being a business in the fullest sense of the term.

Gerard: Interesting

Itu: It remains an unfinished, aspirational, it’s a kind of horizon towards which we keep running. And like designers reforming our view of the problem as we start solving it.

Gerard: That’s exciting because if I look at today or both of us step back a minute, we work in similar…I’m writing a book and it’s called the “Interdisciplinarian century”, where I’m saying, this is the depth of expertise and the beginning of interdisciplinarian approaches. So for example, computational biophysics, or bio architecture or bio-something and behavioural sciences and behavioural finance. So this needs multiple disciplines to come together to learn something.

Let’s talk about design for a moment. If you look at the most successful companies and we’re just not talking Apple or anyone else for the moment. It’s just stepping back and thinking, how can design in a very broad sense, like you said, actually create value for every time we have a stakeholder. And if that value is created, captured and distributed, we’re definitely going to be profitable, sustainable, and we scale. Correct? And CEOs, corporations, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, wall street, whoever you will, are now realizing this is the big missing piece. There is enough computing, there’s enough utility, there’s enough of everything. And we have seen all these studies from McKinsey and everybody else, should design-led thinking (I’m using it quite broadly), lead to a greater return on shareholder value? Looking at where the industry is across the board, whether it’s South Asia or Europe, United States or China, how do you think design today with its incredible opportunity can actually make such an impact on business, society, government that we see? Because whether it’s the wildfires in Australia, very unfortunate, we have seen lots of animals dying and people losing their lives, or on the other hand, you’re looking at what’s going on in the Arctic and Antarctic at the same time, where is the design thinking opportunity?

Itu: I think it would be easier to talk about what keeps the design thinking opportunity from fructifying. And I think that, one of the reasons is what you mentioned, that we live in an age of specialization which is really a product of the 20th – late 19th century, and post the last industrial revolution, a kind of idea first baked by schools and universities.

So when I talk about the history of design, I like to talk about it through schools and universities, because they actually baked in the idea that you have of a ___-er, a design-er. So you didn’t have specialized designers, you had people in trades and then you began calling them, design experts, very vertically organized, and then you started creating this horizontal concept called a designer, with greater and greater degrees of abstraction. And I’ve spoken about this at length. It’s obvious that through history, we have been de-specializing and then converging and then diverging and then converging. So we are going to keep seeing that happen.

The issue is going to be a belief in technocracy, a belief in central control, a belief that people with numbers or with data know it best. Data and numbers are massively valuable things, but the data is not the reality in the sense that the model isn’t the reality. And just like, AI is only good for a certain class of problems, it is not much of use in telling us what the problems ought to be. So it’s not what you might call problem finding, it’s more about problem solving, particularly where you have closed problems.

But the problems of the real world aren’t like that and they are such that you don’t even recognize the best solution when you see it and you can’t objectively define it. So in most cases, the role of small experiments with trial and error has to be sanctioned by decentralization. So, say you’re a company or a government and your company makes, let’s say electrical appliances. You have to allow an experiment, which is at the scale of a single water heater. Or you have to allow an experiment at the scale of visiting 20 households and saying, what do you do with your water heater in the summer? Is there a market for a water cooler, for example? So you have to allow the small experiment, at a place, very close to the consumer, what I call ‘last inch’, not last mile but last inch. Where if you don’t allow that to happen, you’re not going to find out, because what we are really running as designers is a very bottom up approach. And until the top down management meets that bottom up, nothing’s really going to happen.

So it’s good that designers are starting companies, and lots of startups have designers as their head, you know, Airbnb. You know, all about that. The CDO is some term that never quite goes away. CDO stands, of course for, career definitely over. When you know you’re, basically f*ckd as a designer, that you might become a CDO somewhere. So the reason for the skepticism is, when you’re going to allow that to happen and you’re going to say or a management is going to say that, yeah, let six guys experiment with this. Let 20 households experiment with this. Yes, we believe in pilots, and starting small.

And that is why I wrote about this a couple of months ago, Abhijeet Banerjee’s Nobel prize. What that does is, it takes a kind of un-theoretical approach solving small problems, and it says we can make guesses about what kinds of things are going to work even if we don’t quite know why. And then we can try them out at small sizes, and if they work, we can think about scaling them. So it’s not exactly grand theory, this is very design-like. What you’re really saying is, let’s give it a shot, let’s try it. A sense of design is that you don’t solve everything before you start trying. You are not trying to generalise or make rules.

Gerard: Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt you, but I just wanted to because you mentioned something brilliant, which is, what do you do with a heater in summer when winters gotta roll? In some way, you need a cooler. And that’s a great example. So again I’ve been asking people for quite a while saying, when you actually turn the lights in your office or home, do you buy a light bulb or do you want light? Do you actually need a water heater or do you need hot water? So the point is if you take that approach, people don’t want to buy a water heater they want running hot water.

Itu: Or, the famous example of that is, people don’t buy three-quarter-inch drill bits, they buy three quarter inch holes.

Gerard: That’s right. Exactly. So you take that approach and all of a sudden you see the design problem, the design challenge is not the feature and function. The design challenge is Adam Smith thinking, specialization of labour. Right? And that’s exactly what exists today, and products and businesses and systems and policies have been designed around a feature and function like the example you’ve mentioned.

Jack Ma of Alibaba started DAMO group, it’s part of the Alibaba group, and a very simple vision. In the next ‘x’ years he wants the Alibaba group to be the fifth largest economy in the world. And they’ll get there, there’s no doubt of that. There is a very simple vision and they’ll get there, because they’re clearly outlining. But what he’s also mentioned that to make that happen would need a very radical set of thinking. And remember, he’s not a computer scientist, nor an economist, he is an English teacher, he used to get $200 a month. So he comes from a very simple thinking. And he said he’s going to take design, and he’s going to take very new economic approaches. He didn’t use the term mechanism design because that may be something, he’s not totally deep into or talking much about, and computational sciences, but a very different approach with design at the heart of it. And the same for companies in South Asia, you’re able to see the incredible opportunity for companies, whether it’s software, whether it’s hardware, whether it’s automobile or aerospace, defence, you name it. They’re not scaling fast enough because somewhere, like you said, that design thinking is missing and it’s not about the heater or the cooler, it’s beyond that.

Itu: It’s the courage.

Gerard: Correct. And it’s how do you see for anybody to come in? Whether or not just in India, you could have a designer coming in from somewhere else, could be London could be New York could be a small town in Sierra Leone, it could be in Senegal, in South Africa, Rio de Janeiro, comes to India and builds a great opportunity. So you need the migration, not of people, but also of ideas. How do you see this as an opportunity for South Asia to leverage?

Itu: Well, I think that, traditionally through time, breakthroughs have not come from technologists.

Gerard: Correct.

Itu: This is only a 20th century thing, right? So breakthroughs have come from all kinds of craftsmen and tinkerers and so on, right? So if I could get together with some quite basic boiler mechanics and plumbers and maybe create a cheap centralized water heating system for my house where I never need to see that 25ltr water heater in the bathing area. If I can have split air conditioners, why can’t I have split water heaters? There’s absolutely no reason why not, which is the same thing. Now, there are plenty of ways of doing this, it’s just that the tinkering type of person exists in abundance in South Asia, right? Now that needs a little bit of solidification, it needs a process, it needs maturity, which are the kind of things that a company is very good at providing us. So companies are very good at taking kind of weak and fragile things until they become strong, mature, then they eventually become stiff and useless and then they have to be replaced, that’s the cycle. So that’s the two things that need to come together.

I think that just on the scale of practical invention—the people can do it. It’s about allowing them into an institutional structure where you can say small solutions are fine. Big solutions are just small solutions with zeroes. They’re small solutions with scaling problems. So, the space for innovation is wide open and it doesn’t need specialists. In fact specialists come with a cognitive disadvantage. Jack Ma’s strength is all the things you said, the lack of various things is his strength. So, it’s about framing it and it’s about him agreeing to frame it. And it’s about somebody saying that I can’t stop you from doing what you’re doing.

Gerard: Correct. Absolutely. And it’s very interesting because South Asia represents probably an incredible opportunity, right? You have very smart young people in South Asia across the board. People in India are very talented. They have the talent, the ideas, and, like you said, luckily they’re not experts.

Itu: I work with a carpenter very often. It’s precisely because we don’t live in an hyper industrialized kind of situation where the carpenter’s way of functioning is totally limited to what you would call a product space and a tool space which is existing products and existing tools, which deliver predictable high quality solutions. Precisely because you don’t have that, this person is actually more of a problem solver and he’s more innovative and smarter at working out lots of things.

Gerard: And since you say that, for example, a lot of heads of state today being elected are in their thirties, early thirties and early forties, etc. Because a lot of young people are stepping back and saying, we don’t want, like Einstein said, we don’t want solutions to today’s problems from yesterday’s thinking. And so they’re saying we want to vote in people who are young enough, who don’t know the past, but know about the past to look into the future. And that’s also design thinking, the way they’re electing heads of state. And I think what’s very interesting is this challenge of what’s changing that in your opinion, how you look at it, because it’s a design issue. And where does this leave opportunities for Asian companies?

Itu: Yeah. I’m not sure Indian companies, the things that they struggle with leave them with the bandwidth or the resources or the mental space to think about the world’s problems. So I think there is, I don’t know if that’s going to happen, maybe I haven’t quite grasped the question or maybe it needs to be specified, a little bit better. Would you want to take a second crack at it?

Gerard: Yes, I can. One of my favourite professors in the world Aswath Damodaran, New York Stern, I think he was in India recently, and I read his article. He said, every company today, that’s making a real impact on itself and its employees and the society at large; and obviously he’s not talking just about doing good, but obviously scaling a company; it’s not solving problems in their own country.

He made a very interesting comment, he said, this coming decade is going to belong to companies that don’t look at their own market, the geographic market they operate in, for they look outside, and he talked about everybody else. And he said, he sees that as a real opportunity to grow a company. Not saying we have 300 million people in the United States, and hey we can do this market, but now there are 3 billion people in Asia we can go after. A completely radical new thinking with new tools and new design and new problems that we’ve solved that we don’t solve today. And that’s the leap that these companies are going to have, the most successful companies are going to do that. So, that’s a very interesting take!

He was in India, so he said, and what he meant is companies in India or entrepreneurs in India want to solve real issues. Stop just talking about a billion people we have in India, talk about the rest of the world. Try and get out of where we are and try and see, can you take this around the world? And if you do, you’ve got something to solve. Don’t just say we have a good market, stay complacent and don’t worry about that somebody else will do it anyway. And if they do it without you, they’ll come back to you and get a hold of what you’re doing as well. So I think he was trying to give his perspective, which is very interesting. I’d like to get your thoughts on something like that.

Itu: So there’s two reasons for which you might consider an international foray or an international market. One is the size of the market. The other reason that I find more interesting is the fact that it offers a cognitive advantage, that is the perspective of the outsider. So the outsider perspective is a very valuable thing. All great work, even great pieces in literature are written by people who are kind of outsiders to their field and they kind of barged in between. Watson and Crick who cracked DNA. One of them was Watson, a physicist who was in Oxford and he was doing a PhD and he was bored and he met this guy in the bar. The guy in the pub said, what are you working on, and he said, I’m working on this impossible thing. And he said, well, that doesn’t sound so hard, let’s have a bash at it, okay?

You keep seeing this in Nobel prize winners, you keep seeing this in people who’ve done new things. So that’s a very refreshing thing to come at something which is not your everyday. Because the human brain is inured to every day, and it is stimulated by what is not every day.
I definitely find that I have much freer thinking, much better ideas on an airplane, simply because I’m not in my office. I’m much better taking a taxi ride and staring out the window in Bombay or anywhere else. So this other place cognitive advantage is a very good thing. And if you’re looking at that; now what happens is you can find other places within India. That is to say, there’s so many Indias, there’s so many people’s lives you don’t know, once you wander in there.

So the idea of making, seeing the strange in the familiar and the familiar in the strange, this is the heart of creative thinking whether it’s for solving business problems or any other kinds of problems. It’s an interplay between strange and familiar. You’re making the familiar strange, the strange familiar. So that’s the process in which ideas fertilize.

Gerard: So if you look at it today, where would you see the standards of design, the practice of design in India today. Where do you see that? And the next question, I will take it from there if you were to look at what is design pivoting to, worldwide?

Itu: Well, I’ll take the questions in the kind of reverse order. I think design seems to be pivoting to what I write about a lot, which is, it’s kind of a higher role as a problem solving thing. Now, the disappointing part here is that a management or business or people like yourself are walking towards design faster than designers are walking towards people like you.

So, most of this change is actually coming from management institutes or the Rotman Institute or the Stanfords of this world and other organizations like that. And obviously at the current state, it’s a kind of gabfest kind of opportunity. So there’s a whole industry in design thinking or design like thinking as I like to say. I prefer the term design methods. It’s at the moment in a gabfest kind of phase, but it could turn into something. And when it turns into something, we won’t have a word for it.

We wouldn’t be calling it design thinking anymore because it will be what everyone is doing. And it will just mean that we have decided to allow a certain type of problem solving to take place, which has always been there. And the only reason we’ve had to pretend that there is a new thing called design thinking is because we created organizations in a certain shape, which did not incentivize or prioritize problem solving. They were not built for that or they were really built as an optimization machine. So the corporation is designed as an optimization machine and then people’s thinking patterns and the models they build tend to follow the shape of the organization. So this is called the Conway effect, it’s a kind of colloquialism of saying that you think in the way in which your organization is structured.

So, it’s going to take a different kind of organization. I don’t see a great deal of evidence of that in India but I do see people like myself talking it up. I see people in pockets trying to do things, and maybe in very small ways, in invisible ways we’re trying to do this with our clients. When I tell a client of mine that he should not design something, he starts to sit up and take notice and he starts to say, wait, I should trust this person. Or when I tell a prospect, I do a lot of selling and I call selling ‘Phase zero’. So in our office, the term is, selling is the unpaid phase of the design project. So we’ve already started doing some kind of problem-izing for the client. So we are doing problem-ing, we’re not doing solutioning. So that’s pretty valuable. And very often we wound up telling clients, I don’t think, you should be working with us. So even a negative act of this kind is something to which the industry should pivot. They should realize that there’s money to be made if they are willing to forgo it in the first place.

There’s doha of Kabir –
Chaya maya ek si, birla jaane koye.
Bhaagat ke peeche lage, (it follows the one who runs away from it)
sanmukh bhaage soye.
Which means if you face it and try and chase the shadow, well it’s going to run away from you. You run back from it, it follows you.

So there is value to be made if you’re not trying to grab it upfront right away. If you’re willing to take the risk and it’s not a “risk”, it’s the safest thing you can do, which is to empathize with a client. And really try and get into his world and find out whether what he’s facing is indeed a design problem, and then what kind of design problem it is, without necessarily you being the solution. And when you have the courage to say that, people spot it. It becomes embarrassing, people want you to work for them more than ever. The more you tell them that they’d be doing the wrong thing, the more they say, well, I don’t care if it’s a wrong thing, but you’re going to do it for me. So you have to handle that. So this would be happening in very small ways, among all kinds of wise people everywhere. And the point about this is, it’s never going to be headline design it’s bottomline probably.

Gerard: It’s not, and that’s a good way to say it. Take somebody, who maybe prints a new visiting card that says, ‘wicked problem solver’, just solving wicked problems. They’re not repetitive, they’re unique. Every time you find a solution it is for that problem, at that situation, at that point in time, it may not be relevant next year.

And so if we were to kind of conclude this very interesting discussion. What would you see if someone was watching or listening to this in the future? Whether a young designer or someone with a young mind, of any age group. Which gives us an opportunity to look at, for myself or someone, who’s really saying, what can I do around design methods, design behaviour, and what can I do as a career? Whether I’m an investor like a private equity venture capitalists, or whether I’m an executive or CEO of the board, or I’m an entrepreneur or someone who goes to work, or a government policy says, what can I do now that will make such an incredible change and impact to what I’m about to do that I’m willing to make that change shift my entire career and hopefully make that large an impact that will create an incredible value for everyone around me and also for myself.

Itu: So I think the key lies in something in two things, the first thing is something you said, which is looking at the world, not through the lenses of subject specialization. So not even interdisciplinary, but looking at it through no discipline. Just looking as it is, like a human being starting with simple things like your body and saying, how does it feel in your head? How does it feel on my skin? Is it hot? Is it cold? I mean, the really innocent questions. Starting with those things. And if you do that, then you become an absolute beehive of problems. And then the skill of a designer becomes problem finding rather than problem solving. So finding the right problems to solve comes from just living in this enlightened and dumb way, which is free of subject specializations. So I’m not an X or a Y, it’s kind of getting back to a human scale and talking about those things.

Gerard: Yeah, absolutely.

Itu: So de-specializing is very much a part of that. Can we think about things that are worth doing, without thinking about how they pay? They will pay, or they are not worth doing. So in that way, I think you start thinking a little bit like a businessman and you stop thinking of businessmen being such an unwelcome thing. Because, traditionally the creative industries are told that money’s an unfortunate thing that you have to deal with. But I think money is just one of the strategic levers in the diagram, in the system, in the mechanism that you’re designing.

Gerard: Correct. And I think, having someone like you, of your background, your experiences come in and talk, I think it’s fantastic. I think everyone should get hold of you. And I’m going to encourage the team at NASSCOM and Design4India. I think they should get hold of you and talk to you a lot more. Get you involved in some of the challenges they’re facing today, whether it’s organizations in government or whoever or industry to come and pick your brain and pick your thinking and how we could create the next 10,000 Itu Chaudhuris in India. So we can create value at a scale, solving new ideas. Each one is unique with a unique perspective. When I talk to you, what really comes across, which is very refreshing, is that you look at everything very simply, with great simplicity, with humility and willing to be challenged by anyone or any situation. And that’s what creates that unique perspective. It’s been really very exciting for me to talk to you. I’m sure lots of people listening would love to get hold of your email or contact and send you some thoughts and maybe even ask you to come work with you. If I was one of them, I would have tried myself, I still may(hahaha). But I think it’s very exciting. I’ve enjoyed talking to you. It’s been a real pleasure and love to hear your last words before we wrap up.

Itu: I think that what you’ve said is all very relevant. It’s all about just being open to things. There are already 10,000 Itu Chaudhuris, they already exist. What you’re not seeing is that they’re not accessing media, like I am. And I can access that media because I found the platform. And I found that platform because I crossed over to the other side and said ‘What is design orthodoxy doing?’ I learned to speak that language since I already knew that language. So, the gatekeepers would let me in, the reason you’re not seeing the other 10,000 is because the gatekeepers won’t let them in. The gatekeepers would decide what is a good idea or what is the contribution or what is the thought? So all we have to do is build safe pens, where the gates are open and housewives and mad men and inventors and politicians can all become part of this process.

Gerard: Yeah. And I think if the audience has any questions they’d like to ask, this is the time to ask. Because, having someone like Itu here, sharing his perspectives, which are incredibly unique, would be good. And if you have any questions do let us know, we’re able to ask these questions. If you’re unable to ask these questions while we’re online, please feel free to contact Design4India. Maybe we can curate these questions, send them to Itu Chaudhuri, get some responses and get y’all connected. Which I think would be very interesting for you as the audience to do. I have a couple of questions myself, which I probably will reach out with after this call and maybe talk to Itu by myself and have a long conversation.

Once again, I must really thank you. It’s been fantastic. I’ve heard so much about you from Shalini and the Design4India team before this call, they said it’s like getting the Don Bradman of India to come to this conversation and have a chat because you’ve got such an incredible background, such incredible learning and also so much to offer. And I think that last part was very important because, having done something in the past is like building a Taj Mahal, but having something to offer in the go forward is where the future is. And with that, I thank you for spending this time. It’s been a real pleasure and I hope to speak with you soon and get connected via mail, and I’ll reach out to the team to put us in touch.

Itu: Likewise, I’d just like to wish everyone a year of failing well, if we can do that, we’re on the right track.

Gerard: Yes and we all pray for everyone that’s having a tough time in the Australian bush fires as well. And thank you once again. Thank you very much.

Itu: Bye.

Gerard: Bye Bye.