Return of the Rebels

In the past year I’ve come across some brilliant humans. People who personify Rob Siltanen’s “Here’s to the crazy ones”. People who are not happy with whatever is happening around them, who have a problem with status quo. People who have the courage to ask the the Hard Questions. People who want to change things for the good. People for whom a job title is not the important thing.

Crazy ones

All these people share some common fundamental values and ideology. I’ve been talking to a few of them on regular basis. And finally after months of talking on phone, emails and skype, we finally ended up meeting in Delhi for 3 days. It took some flights, trains and a couple of taxi and auto rides to be in the same shared space-time continuum.

These 3 days were some of the most interesting and mentally challenging days i had in the last few months. We probed and provoked each other to form a common understanding of

  • what we are?
  • what we want to do?
  • where we are headed?
  • why we are the way we are?
  • what makes us tick?
  • why work together?
  • what needs to be done?
  • what sort of questions need to be asked and probed?

We also were interested in asking the What ifs?

  • What if everyone comes together for making a social impact?
  • What if open systems are employed for tackling UNDP sustainability goals?
  • What if we want to change the way design is practiced?
  • What if sustainability, systems thinking and design things is the only way to turn consumption and consumerism into something meaningful?
  • What if design becomes the basis of every system?
  • What if sense making and meaning making is more important that profit making?
  • What if we enable every person to maximize their potential and to live a content life?
  • What if there is something for everyone to learn?
  • What if the learning process is made very personal and experimental?
  • What if processes move beyond Human Centeredness and aim for Life Centeredness?
  • What if embracing fuzziness and and breaking down barriers is a normal approach?

Sticky Notes

The people I’m talking about have spent a majority of their time doing projects in the sector of social innovation, open learning and for the maximization of human potential.

Anmol Kaur 

Anmol Final

She is an engineer and a designer who enjoys arranging, connecting and making sense of information and systems – particularly in global development. She is inspired by the possibility of living in a world of compassion, universal freedom, and ubiquitous access to opportunity.

Currently, She’s on a one year self-directed master’s degree, looking to better understand the skills, tools, and mindsets required to be an exceptional designer and social impact leader.

She has worked as a volunteer consultant at Goonj, a Delhi-based NGO creating a parallel economy using waste as a resource for rural development, and at BMO Financial Group, as a Business Transformation Consultant in the Office of the COO, on digital transformation projects, lean process improvements, and customer experience mapping.

Check out some of her recent work and ideas on her blog.


Christopher Scott

Chris Final

He is a design-curious management consultant currently working along with Anmol and has worked with coffee farmers in Ethiopia. He is intrigued by the power of innovative business models to solve complex problems for people across sectors and geographies.

Check out his profile.

Together Chris and Anmol have been working on creating a platform “Designers of Tomorrow” where they are spending a year in India working on development-related projects using systems and design thinking, curating a curriculum on development, design, and moral leadership, and exploring different models for learning. They recently finished a project in the hills of Himalaya. They partnered with a social enterprise, EduCARE India, which focuses on facilitating community led sustainable development in rural areas, like Naddi. After spending some time getting settled, soaking in the vastness of the mountains around them, and meeting some of the community members here, they worked with EduCARE to define a challenge area.

How might we reduce the amount of time women in rural communities spend on unpaid (household) work so that they can contribute more time to their personal aspirations, economic well-being of their households, and sustainable development of their communities?


Laura A. François

Laura Final

She is from Montréal, Canada but she loves finding new places in which to feel local.

She is a creative design and systems thinker, feeling most alive when she is collaborating on social innovation projects. She worked with piktochart to create some amazing resources.

Though she claims that she is no fashionista, She is currently obsessed with her closet as she believes it contains the secret to a happier planet. She is a change agent for human rights in the fashion industry, facilitating awareness, and connecting the human and environmental stories behind our clothing.

She’s currently the Country Co-ordinator for Fashion Revolution Singapore. And also part of a successfully funded Indigogo campaign, Artisan & Fox (Discover the world’s hidden makers, Discover ethical jewelry, shawls and bags handmade by extraordinary artisans across the developing world)

You can find out more about her on her site.

All of us coming together and meeting reinforced our belief that there is power in participation, co-creation and openness. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery.

When people come together to look at the problem as a collective and listen to the issues and concerns of each member, they end up forming a very holistic perspective of the problem at hand. Solutions are built with the participation of everyone and by building on the ideas of others the system thus formed is an open and a democratically designed one. It’s a transparent system with every single entity visible to each member.



Sonic Architect: Wilson

A tribute to the brilliant Progressive Rockstar Steven Wilson!

Satisfy your inner audiophile with this hand crafted wooden audio system! The Sonic Architect Wilson is handmade using Teak and Pine wood with a handwoven fabric grill. Each unit is hand assembled based on “Less is More” approach. A power switch and an aluminum volume knob makes the system easy to use.

– 20 Watt Class D Amplifier
– 2.2″ Full Range Driver
– Passive Radiator
– 3.5mm AUX Input
– Aluminum Volume Knob
– Stained Teak Enclosure
– Handwoven Fabric Grill
– 12 Volt DC Power Adapter

Book List


I’m putting down a list of books which I’ve gone through the past 4 years of design education. Some of them are not design books but are worth reading. Some of them are accessible on platforms like Issuu, some could be found in libraries or some you would have to buy. This list is the one I have right now. There are a few more which I’ll add in the coming days.

ekprayog-Design Democracy and Tinkering

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

-Ken Robinson


This is the thesis/degree project document. Link to the document.

People construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. When we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experiences, in the process maybe changing what we believe, or discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge, perception and consciousness. To do this, we must ask questions, explore, and assess what we know or shall I say what we don’t know. The best way to learn is to simply start doing and tinkering the world surrounding us.

Since the Industrial Revolution people have become used to mass manufacturing and use & throw mindset. We humans have become very consumerist and market driven, like machines devouring on natural resources without much thinking behind our actions. There is an eagerness to be better than others around; there is a need of a bigger house, a bigger car and more cash in wallet. Everything is about consumption for majority of people living on planet Earth.

This project is my way of questioning the present design practices and experimenting with the alternative practices. The core objective of the project is to explore design through the lenses of human centeredness, sustainability, intuitiveness, co-creation, collaboration, openness, making and tinkering. This project has led to creation of new products, process and systems with various stakeholders.

Why Do We Make?

Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things. Things we make are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our soul.

Make. Just make. This is the key. The world is a better place as a participatory sport. Being creative, the act of creating is actually fundamental to what it means to be human. Physical making is more personally fulfilling than virtual making.

According to Jean Piaget (Constructivism) and Seymour Papert (Constructionism) building knowledge structure occurs best through building things that are tangible and shareable; Learning-by-Doing. People learn effectively through making things. Knowledge and the world are both constructed and interpreted through action, and mediated through symbol use. Each gains existence and form through the construction of the other. Knowledge structure building happens felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it’s a sandcastle or a theory of the universe.

Making is not just learning-by-doing, but engaging reflexively and socially. Both the creation process and the produced artifacts ought to be socially shared. Once you make
something, there is a sense of achievement, whether you make a notebook or an insanely complex contraption.

We as a race are driven by reward system, when someone appreciates our work and efforts we lower our guards and engage in conversations. So, act of making something eventually leads to act of engaging into conversations, idea and knowledge sharing. And this entire process taken on a macroscopic view leads to formation of collective consciousness.
Jay Silver states making leads to re-seeing (lens) the everyday world as something we can re-make (block)

Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things. Things we make are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our soul.


Find of the Day: 08 September 2016

You’ve probably heard by now, but the new iPhone 7 does not have a headphone jack. This is going to be a pain for all kinds of reasons, but if you pick up a pair of Bluetooth headphones you should do just fine. And hey, what do you know, Apple announced a pair of those! The new “AirPods” are completely wireless!

For the past several years, Bluetooth headphones have been called “wireless,” but there is only one specific wire they’ve eliminated: the wire that goes from the headphones to the phone. This is a good wire to eliminate! It gets caught on doorknobs and sometimes shorts out due to bending around the plug. Another wire, however, has been permitted to stay. Over-the-head Bluetooth headphones still have an obvious band (with a wire inside) connecting the two speakers, and more stripped-down Bluetooth earbud designs usually have a wire running between the two buds, one you can just throw behind your neck.


An Industrial Designer’s Dream Scenario:

You’re heading up the design team for a technologically-sophisticated, big-ticket item. You got a team of engineers, industrial designers and UX guys all working in the same building, alongside a top-notch prototyping shop. A crucial parts supplier is right down the street. So is the factory. You’ve also got a ready supply of end-users available to test the product out and provide user feedback. You and your team have final call on all design decisions.

An Industrial Designer’s Realistic Scenario:

Your office is in Flagstaff, the crucial parts supplier is in South Korea, the Chinese factory offers to do the engineering for a price your boss can’t refuse. The design research firm you’re using seems more interested in convincing you to keep hiring them than in providing relevant data. And your boss’ spouse, who has no design background and doesn’t work at the company, has both strong opinions and a troubling amount of dinner-table influence.

If that sounds as bad as it can get, the U.S. Government’s military procurement process has just proven you wrong.

F-35 Helmet.jpg

What is a “self,” anyway? What does it mean to be a self? What are the requirements of selfhood?

The nature of self is one of philosophy’s perennial and persistent questions. Self is easy to describe, yet maddening to decipher. Part philosophy of the mind, part biology of the brain, it combines two elusive ideas: the philosophy of continuity (how things persist through time) and the biopsychology of psychic unity (how the brain makes us feel singular). I see; I hear; I feel. How do separate perceptions bind together into a continuing, coherent whole? How do sentient properties congeal as “me”?

Look at an old photo, perhaps from primary school. Then look in the mirror. Those two people are the same person. But how so? They don’t look the same. Their memories are different. Almost all of the cells that composed that child’s body have gone from that adult’s body.


We all know that men are from Mars and women are from Venus – the former apparently populated by colonies of blokes who can’t multitask to save their lives. But in a shocking twist, it turns out that such evaluations are, in the words of a leading neuroscientist, “trash.”

Traditional beliefs that ladies are hardwired to juggle several things at once are a total “myth,” according to Professor Gina Rippon from Aston University, and if they do appear to have a certain aptitude for it, this has arisen from societal expectations and not biology.

“I’d say to the scientific community, can we please stop talking about sex?,” she told audiences at the British Science Festival in Swansea yesterday. “Stop dividing your data into two categories, you are losing so much information.

“Not only are we feeding the ‘neuro-trash’ industry misunderstanding about what we do, but we are also feeding the inner wimp of people out there who believe they can or can’t do something based on whether they are male or female.”


Chronicles of HillHacks

Since 2014 hardware and software specialists, amateurs and geeks from around the globe have been coming to the hills of himalaya. HillHacks has become a way of living for most of these people. These are the short clippings which were made during HillHacks’16 near Dharamshala.

Innovate Inside: Towards Creative Prison Industries


Innovate Inside Publication_Revised-1

“At present, inmates who work for ‘prison industries’ across the globe do not learn new skills, just odd jobs. They aren’t taught skills that could make them resilient in the workplace once they leave. This is because education and work are disconnected.”
Prof. Lorraine Gamman, quoted in The Times of India, 7th March 2014.

Professor Lorraine Gamman’s research fellowship at Unbox Festival in 2014, Ahmedabad led to collaboration with Praveen Nahar of National Institute of Design (NID) on the AHRC-funded ‘Design Thinking for Prison Industries’ project which aims to break the cycle of repeat offending by equipping inmates with skills and thinking processes to help them find employment on release. The ambition of the project was to work with jails in UK and India to provide “purposeful learning activity” (a UK government requirement) that fosters creativity and wellbeing for inmates.

The purpose of the experiment was to

To find out how design can improve inmate prison experience, by teaching inmates:

  • how to design a bag for another that will help keep a person and their possessions safe and sound
  • help inmates understand the business case for the designs they generate
  • experience a new learning process ‘thinking through doing’ that they could apply to other areas of their lives

To help inmates:

  • turn ideas into detailed designs
  • co-design and make bag prototypes
  • engage with customer profiling
  • understand crime data (particularly perpetrator techniques) and translate it into design for anti-theft bags

To generate new learning approaches (‘design thinking’) to engage with inmates in ways that previous education initiatives had not reached.

Download Innovate Inside: Towards Creative Prison Industries case study here.

Media coverage

CSM Public newspaper, 14 January 2016. Delivering Design Education for Prisoners.

Diana Budds, FastCo Design, 28 April 2016. The Latest In Prison Education? Design Thinking

Runa Mukherjee Parikh, The Times of India, 7 March 2014. National Institute of Design, UK-based faculty plan course for jail inmates.

Sarfaraz Shaikh, The Times of India, 27 February 2016. NID goes to Sabarmati jail for designs against theft.

Tv9, Ahmedabad, 4 March 2016. NID goes to Sabarmati jail for empowering prisoners for meaningful living.

Tv9, Gujarati, 28 February 2016. NID goes to Sabarmati jail to teach theft-proof designs to inmates.

Times New Network, 22 March 2016. Convicts help design theft-proof bags.



A – Z of OPEN

I wrote the following in my first post:

“There are a few who believe in appropriation and free sharing of knowledge, information and resources. These few people are the Open Source folks. Since the advent of Internet, communication and collaboration across international and cultural boundaries has grown exponentially. Collaborative and open work like Wikipedia, Instuctables, Arduino, Fab Lab are some of the examples which are empowering people to pursue their hobbies and a few services like Etsy, Kickstarter are enabling these hobbyist into becoming full time entrepreneur. Open source hardware, open source software and open design are altering the way we look at things.”

There are quiet few people who know about open source and what all is happening in its domain. And then there also people who don’t know much about it. So, I had been thinking for some time to make something which could introduce people to some of the open source platforms, organizations and corporations.

Hence this booklet which gives a glimpse to an OPEN WORLD.

The booklet can be downloaded from link

A-Z of OPEN Booklet

Creative Commons License
A – Z of OPEN by Sahil Thappa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Hill Hacks: Origami Workshop

We got done with the 25 kids of the balloon powered car workshop by noon. As it was a government school, the kids took off for having their mid day meal and we were also invited by the staff to have lunch with them. We had the food given to the kids along with the one brought by the teachers and it was really nice. We talked about the general education scene in and around Dharamshala.

After having lunch we started the origami workshop with a new set of 25 kids. I had made a few origami objects before we started the workshop. I kept them on the table and hung one of them from the ceiling of the room.

Kids started checking the objects and twisted them around and some were trying to touch the object hanging from the ceiling. These objects really got them excited. Then I asked them whether they are interested in making one for themselves. All off them nodded their heads.

As these kids were from 3rd standard and had no prior exposure to origami, I thought we’ll make a  really simple helix model. So, we distributed papers to everyone and then we begun our step by step instructions. Some of the kids really picked up whatever was being told to them, some of them were stuck. We asked the kids who figured out the folds to help the one who couldn’t. Then a lot of them came to me and Henna to help them out. After around 25 minutes of hard work and folding everyone was almost done and each one of them had a smile on their face.

We still had some time left, so I thought why not make the simplest toy I ever played with when I was a kid. The next model we made was a fan using three strips of paper. We cut the strips quickly and gave to the kids. And again the step by step process begun. This was an easier one so, the kids were able to pick the instructions fast. After finishing the fan they had no clue how it works. I took a pencil from one of the kid and placed the fan on the tip of the pencil and blew at it, it started spinning. And within the next seconds there was a sense of amazement in them and all of them got super excited.

After some 10 minutes the school ground was full of kids running with their paper fans. It was really a blissful feeling. A bunch of 25 kids with these paper toys having a blast. I don’t think any expensive toy would give so much joy as the simple paper fan did.

Even one of the teacher got really excited about the concept of making things with paper and she also learnt to make the fan. She wants to teach this to the kids in the future.

The tiny 25 Makers had fun that day.