Making for the Real World: Harshali’s Laser-cut QuickAccess Storage Unit


Harshali is an enthusiastically inquisitive designer. The way the world works and its intricacies fascinate her and she wants to contribute to its betterment in a meaningful way.  She believes in the collective power of people and that people are the ultimate source of knowledge, and books are the best companions. Writing is her fondest way of expression, Link to her blog. Harshali wanted to make a Lasercut Modular Storage Unit for the Recreational Space which was being set up in the studio. Everyone had to share their objects in the form of an Instructable. Harshali’s insturctable got featured as well, which means that the documentation was done in a very precise and easy to understand way, supplemented by a lot of images, sketches and dimensional diagrams. Detailed information about the storage units can be found at Harshali’s Featured Instructable. This is what she has to say about the objects she made.

With every new approach to design that I try, I am left feeling like the oblivious, fresh out of high school child that I was before I got into NID.

What if we all started making everything we use? 
With designs and instructions available on the internet, one could be empowered to make absolutely anything! In that case, the role of product designers would be to simplify the process of making for everyone and demystify everyday objects such that they are easily makeable.

Keeping this in mind, I set out to make a storage unit which was modular, easy, and aesthetic. One that was fun to make and would fit in any given space.
I wanted to keep it simple, such that it could be a project taken up by anyone without any help- and yet keep the process engaging.

Selection of material- MDF- was on the basis of lightness and durability. The joinery- interlocked nodes- allowed ease of assembly. Documentation was the most important part of the whole process- it wasn’t just about getting to the final product, but about the audience being able to understand how to make it. Compilation of all the images and text was quite a task, but the excitement of sharing with the web kept me going. Publishing the instructable gave a sense of completion to the project.


All in all, Making for The Real World was a wonderful exercise that got one thinking about an alternate approach to design.

Kudos to Sahil and Praveen for having made this workshop possible.

Working on this with Harshali was fun, initially we had spend some amount of time to figure out the detailing of the ways to join two modules but once that was figured out, the making was easy. I see a smart designer in the making, who will fit well in design advocacy and education.



Making for the Real World: Archana’s Multi-functional Space Dividers


Archana Valecha is a super talented chilled designer who is into solar cooking, music, collage art and a lot of interesting conversations. She wanted to make a Multi-functional space divider for the Recreational Space which was being set up in the studio. Everyone had to share their objects in the form of an Instructable. And the one Archana wrote got featured as well, which means that the documentation was done in a very precise and easy to understand way, supplemented by a lot of images, sketches and dimensional diagrams. Detailed information about the divider can be found at Archana’s Featured Instructable. This is what she has to say about the objects she made.

The need for the space dividers was simply to create a space within a space, a demarcation. A sort of enclosure which would give the sub space a different feel. Since these space dividers were for a semi formal work space I wanted them to have a professional feel, still not letting go of the element of fun.

The use of panels for my design simply helped in blending this sub space into the larger space as it wasn’t a complete block out from what was outside of the sub space. It would let some amount of information and light pass through when inside the sub space. The use of panels also gave the design a feel of lightness which would otherwise not come across if an entire opaque material was used. the pop colours used was purely to introduce a fun element, a visual stimulant.

Multi functionality came with the fact that the dividers could not only be used to demarcate but could also be used to do other things like putting up of sheets, posit notes and other little bits on the white panels, one of which is a magnetic board. This feature gave the dividers an interactive element.

The making of these dividers was a new experience for me as I had never worked on such a large scale before. It also gave me a chance to get my hands on some new materials and understand the way they behave. The design turned out the way it is because of the underlying thought that it could be replicated by anyone at any corner of the world. Sharing to let the idea grow further was an interesting takeaway from the course.

Working on this with Archana was super fun and meaningful. I see an amazing designer in the making, who cares about people and things at a deeper level and is dedicated to the core.

Making for the Real World: Recreational Space

A team of 8 product designer started ideating on a recreational space which they could setup in the product design studio (or anywhere else). After a few hours of questioning the needs of the space, we started looking at the objects which were required in this space. And emphasis was laid on the fact that all of the objects made should be simple and easy to replicate. There were few objects which we came up with:

  • Storage
  • Space Dividers
  • Floor Seating
  • Chairs/Stools for using when ideating in space
  • Table
  • Lighting (Artificial/Natural)

The next phase was to figure out the materials, color and finish. And all this was to be done keeping in the mind that at the end of making the objects would share the same design language. Some of the materials which we shortlisted to work with were:

  • Fabric
  • Ropes
  • Wood
  • Metal Channels/Sheets
  • MDF/Plywood
  • Leather/Rexine
  • Foam

After this shortlisting we started looking at various objects for inspiration and created a common moodboard for the group with various details, material finish, colors, geometry. And eventually we realized that the 8 of them wanted to create geometric objects. Objects were democratically assigned to everyone and finally we had 8 objects

  • Aniket: Stool
  • Archana: Multi functional Space Divider
  • Binayak: Table for 3 People
  • Shubrajit: Natural Light Controller
  • Harshali: Storage/Organizer
  • Shilpa: Floor Seating
  • Vyoma: Divider/Display Unit

Once the objects were known the ideation started and all of them came up with various concepts and a display and discussion was done on each and every idea and eventually a few approaches were picked up and they begun the phase of making detailed sketches and started thinking about the material, making processes, colors, finishes etc.

After having a certain level of clarity about the objects, materials were procured from the local market and hence began their journey towards making their objects. While making, all of them came across something new (processes, techniques, materials, systems). Some of them employed traditional methods, some of them used digital fabrication tools.

These 8 guys were brilliant and it was an enriching experience working with them. Being with them was being back to the school again when I was 17. I’ll be posting their individual work and their instructables in the coming posts.


From a Student to a Visiting Faculty

Change is the end result of all true learning.

It’s been almost four years since I took a leap of faith and arrived in Ahmedabad and jumped into the relatively unknown and under-appreciated realms of design. National Institute of Design has been my home for these past four years. I came here to unlearn and relearn and also to look at the world which at times I felt was to superficial. I’ve spent a considerable amount of my student time at NID in the place we called KMC (Knowledge Management Center, Yeah the name is a bit wacko!) and read some crazy nice stuff a list of which is available on the book list blog post, and I was fortunate enough to have come across and having interacted with some of them most humble and creative people from across the globe. People like Praveen Nahar, Shujoy Chakraborty, Vikram Singh Parmar have been really great mentors and I gained a lot from whatever time I spent with them. 

I owe a lot to two of my friends, Swapnil Vibhute and Tanisha Vernekar for being part of the Systems Design course I did with them. This single module had been a transcendental experience and something which has defined my work in the past two years.

One of the most important thing I figured out in the last two years is that there is so much power in open and collective sense making. As Christopher McCandless said “Happiness is only real when shared.”. So, is knowledge, information and resources. These things are meant to be shared and not kept captive by a few. When the entire world is starving, hording doesn’t do any good.

Studying at NID has been a very hands on, mind on, senses on experience, it is like a long drive along the hills or a beach, you come across such beautiful and life enriching things. A lot changed in me as a person on this crazy ride, I became more appreciative of the little things and realized that in the end everything comes down to making sense of the world around you and fostering relationships which are lifelong. The time at NID as a student was really meaningful as a lot of people contributed positively to it and the entire idea of working with open source systems, collaborative and personalized making had run deep within my value system. I wanted to share the same experience with others.

After convocating I’ve been thinking of doing some small workshop on getting people introduced to ideas of my thesis “Design Democracy and Tinkering”. So, I sent a workshop brief to Praveen and he was kind enough to let me take a module with the 7th semester Product Design students. The basic idea of this module “Making for the Real World” was to get them introduced to concepts like open source, digital fabrication, redistributed manufacturing, technology, DIY & maker culture, sustainability and the most important thing of documentation of work and publication. I also made a manifesto on the same principles and can be read on this link.

We tried to run an intense studio for a span of 8 days and everyone is making a real life objects and not renders. I was a mere facilitator in the process and working with the students was a really fun and enriching experience for me (and hopeful for them as well!). The course is official over, we are still in the process of making the objects. We’ll soon be sharing the workshop details and the outcome.


Sonic Architect SA/CDA-250 Amplifier

Amplifier is the heart and brain of an audio system. In the past I have been using amplifiers which were sourced either from USA or China. The quality of amplifiers from both the places is exceptional. But there were a few logistical and economical issues. It takes around 4-5 weeks for the amplifiers to reach and then because I make very limited number of systems I don’t have an importers custom ID. So, a lot of time the amplifiers are stuck in customs and take another 3-4 weeks for processing. I found a vendor who sells and sometimes stocks the amplifiers I was using but the downside is that they turn out to be too expensive.

I wanted to use something which was built locally (Made in India) as it saves a lot of shipping time, cost and fuel. I came across an OEM for making custom made amplifiers. I had already decided on the specifications of the amplifier, and there were a couple of option for the chipset. As I’ve built a considerable number of systems, I went ahead with a Class D amplifier setup which gives a clean sound with exceptional efficiency. These boards use the same chipset as the ones which I was getting from USA and China. The boards have been branded as well as this is an OEM product.

I was facing the problem of mounting the amplifiers from USA and China as they had the volume potentiometers soldered to the board, so placement and accessibility was a problem. The custom made amplifiers which I have, the volume potentiometer and 3.5mm aux jack are connected to the board using ribbon wires. This makes the placement, access and replacement of the board very easy. Board can be kept at one place and the potentiometer and AUX can be kept wherever is the control panel.



Specifications of the SA/CDA-250 board are

  • 50 Watt Per Channel Power
  • 20Hz – 20KHz Frequency Response0
  • 4 – 8 Ohm Impedence
  • Bluetooth 4.1 aptX Connectivity
  • 3.5mm Auxiliary Input
  • Taiwan Volume Taper Potentiometer
  • 12-24 Volt Voltage Supply
  • 2A-4A Current Supply (Preferably 2A)


Sonic Architect Marconi: Behind the scene

Marconi is handmade using Pine and Teak wood. The process is as:

  1. Cutting the components on to approximate dimension using a paper template glued to wood. Cutting done using a bandsaw or jigsaw.
  2. Sanding the components to the proper dimension using the template lines as guides.
    Sanding the Grill
  3. Gluing the four enclosure panels together using 90 degree clamps. Fevicol is used.
  4. Centerpunching the holes on the grill using a 1mm centerpunch and mallet.
    Centre Punching the Grill
  5. Drilling the holes on a drill press using a 6mm drill bit.
    Drilling the Grill
  6. Countersinking the drilled holes using a 10mm 90 degree bit.
    Countersinking the Grill
  7. Drilling holes in the enclosures sides using a 3mm drill for putting dowels.
    Drilling Dowel holes
  8. Gluing the 3mm dowels using Fevicol.
    Gluing Dowels
  9. Making volume knob by using 30mm circular cutter. Gluing a 2mm thick teak wood panel on the knob to cover the drilled hole from one side.
  10. Drilling two 15mm holes on the back panel and then using jigsaw cutting out a capsule shape. Sanding the edges for a smooth transition.
  11. Chamfering the capsule shaped cutout using a 45 degree chamfer bit on router. Sanding the chamfered edges.
  12. Sanding the dowels to make it flush with the rest of the wood.
    Enclosure with Dowel
  13. Lasercutting the back plate to make space for a switch, charging and charge status.
  14. Staining grill, battery plate, knobs and handle using oil stainer.
  15. Soldering the switch, charging board connections and mounting them on the back plate.
    Back Plate
  16. Mounting the back plate on back panel.
    Back Panel with Plate
  17. Hot gluing the speaker to the speaker mounting plate. And soldering wires.
  18. Gluing the speaker mounting plate on the enclosure.
    Speakers mounted on the Enclosure
  19. Soldering the connections on FM receiver. Mounting the receive on the front panel.
  20. Fitting the knobs
  21. Gluing the Grill and front panel on the front edges of the enclosure.
  22. Mounting the battery on the enclosure and testing the electronics and the acoustics.
  23. Gluing the back panel and battery panel edge to edge.
  24. Gluing screw plates on the enclosure sides.
  25. Drilling holes in the back panels and countersinking them
  26. Screwing the back panels using powder coated dry wall screw.
  27. Mounting the handle using 5mm dowel.
  28. Sanding the entire speaker with 320 grit sandpaper.
  29. Finishing using linseed oil.

Marconi is ready to bring back the childhood memories of radio.

Why I started making Watercolor Illustrations?

Since I was a kid I was fascinated with watercolors and for some reason I could never control the way they worked. Maybe it was because of the tiny hands trying too hard to be perfect or because eventually as I grew up I had a problem which makes my hands tremble. I became afraid of using the medium which had this attribute of entropy in it. I could use sketch pens, markers and pencils easily as they still had some control.

So, what exactly changed after so many years of fear?

As I got more time to work on things in a very hands on, physical, tangible way; I started exploring various materials, techniques, process, tools in making things. The entire mindset of getting into making things rather than looking at them in tutorials and thinking one day I’ll do it made the difference. I was no longer thinking about the entropy which came with any sort of tools. I learnt something new with every mistake I made.

And one more thing which was important was that I set goals which were achievable and then once I could get past them, I’ll set a new one which would be complex in varied ways. It could be using the same technique with a different tool, it could be using the same tool in a different way or it could be employing a process in a setting where I had never used it before. And all this re-observing and re-learning lead to the belief that I could venture into getting started with watercolors which I wanted since I was a kid.

I started making small cards which were 8cmx9cm to begin with. And I didn’t try some really fancy technique or handwork. I just started by making rectangular blocks of watercolors, sometimes mixing two or even three of them, I saw a lot of YouTube videos. They really helped me to get the basic and the physicality of the process. I would use these colored cards and do hand lettering on them. Pinterest came to the rescuse. I found some of the most beautifully done hand lettering there. In between I’ll do some on my own as well. And also because I wanted to make these cards for someone I really liked, so I was in a way putting my heart and soul into it.

Eventually I ended up making a lot of these cards and giving it to a lot of people as a token of love, gratitude and care.

From the 8cmx9cm cards I moved on the A5 size notebook. I wanted to try out the same technique of merging colors as I wanted to have a certain sort of mastery in it. I again made hand lettered pages. And all this I was trying on cartridge sheet or ivory which is really not meant for watercolors. These sheets will get all crinkled because of water and I’ll just iron them out. I still had the fear of using a good quality sheet.

And recently I thought that it’s time to use watercolor sheets and make complex forms than hand lettering. I started looking at complex forms which I have been fascinated (themes like space travel, animals, life in passing, movies I like) on Pinterest and Google. Found some crazy good stuff specially the animal series by Kerby Rosanes. I took out black and white printouts of the illustrations I liked and after getting the delivery of watercolor sheets I headed down to the giant lightbox at NID. I started tracing the illustrations using Pigma Micron fineliners. And soon I had a bunch of them which I wanted to watercolor on. As I had learnt color merging it became easy for me to color the illustrated sheets. The hand was still the same but the mindset had changed, so I was fine with making mistakes and during this entire process beginning from the small cards I sort of had found ways to rectify the mistakes. I’ve become better at handling the material, tools, technique and I think I’ve improved a bit in illustration and sketching as well.

My current setup is

  • Brustro 200gsm Cold Press Artists’ Water Color Paper
  • Camel Artists’ Water Color Cakes 18 Shades 300 – C -18
  • Sakura Koi Water Brushpen Medium
  • Chinese Water Brushpen Large
  • 50mm Flat Synthetic Bristle Brush
  • Technical Art Mechanical Pencil 2.0mm
  • Grafo Mech-Pencil Lead 2.0mm
  • Jinhao Ink Pen
  • Pilot V7 0.7mm Pen
  • Pilot V Sign Pen
  • Pigma Micron 005 01 02 03 05 08 Fine Liner
  • Pigma Brush Pen
  • Uniball Signo 0.7mm White Gel Pen
  • Oddy Correction Pen
  • Staedtler Rubber Eraser

Watercolor Setup

Some of the channels I follow on YouTube

Sonic Architect: Marconi

A tribute to the one who made long distance work, Guglielmo Marconi!

The body of Marconi is made using Pine wood which has a buttery color. Each part of the radio was cut using a jigsaw and sanded with 3 successive sandpaper to get a smooth finish. Enclosure was glued using wood glue and then held in place using 90 degree clamps.

Grill is made using teakwood, the grill has a grid of 11×11 6mm holes. A plan of the grill was printed on paper and then glued to the grill piece. All the 121 holes were center punched and then handrilled on a drill press.

The FM receiver is mounted on a pine wood piece with two holes for the volume and frequency pots.

One of the pinewood part can be removed from the back to change the battery, which should ideally last for a couple of years. Grill, FM Receiver mount plate, back plate are all glued to the enclosure.

The handle is made out of pine wood and are then attached to the main body. The volume and frequency knobs are made out of pine as well.

Marconi is handcrafted with an old school look in mind. It takes roughly 10 hours to make the system.



  • FM Receiver
  • Stained and hand oiled Pine Wood
  • 2000 mAh Battery
  • 1.6″ Full-Range Drivers
  • Hand Drilled stained Teak Wood Grill
  • Pine wood Knob
  • Pine wood or Leather Handle
  • Aluminum Antenna
  • Dimension: 25cmx13cmx11cm
In the box
  • Marconi
  • USB cable

Open Source Directory of Makers/Designers/Fabricators/Suppliers

Two years back we started generating a sort-of Marauder’s Map for all the explorers/tinkerers/makers/designers of the city of Ahmedabad. We wanted to let people move beyond their worktables and the entire city to become the space of action. Why not utilize the whole town which is at your disposal providing you with unlimited resources, interesting people and events.


Over the top-left of the map , you shall find the filters to locate specific amenities.

I’m planning of expanding this further to connect Makers/Designers/Fabricators/Suppliers with an Open Source Making Directory with maps and the facilities and resources which are being offered.

I’m open to suggestions, ideas, collaborations, funding (If someone is generous enough) etc. So, in case you want to get back, please send in your messages at

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