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Design Lota

Design Lota

By Angie & Sushi
The podcast about life as Indian Designers. Hosted by Interaction Designer Angeline Bhavya and Industrial Designer Sushmita Charlu. As designers from two different fields, our intention is to be an authentic voice of the everyday designer and to bring the Indian design community closer.
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E031 Mental Health for Creatives Part 2
In this episode, we talk about how we relate to ourselves as creatives, how our attitudes affect our mental well-being, and learn about the mindsets and habits that can help us find balance. We discuss the need for finding our identity beyond the work that we do, though the two are often intertwined.   We unpack the phenomenon of imposter syndrome and all its implications for us as creative practitioners. We go into the issue of comparison and share a few personal learnings and mindsets that have helped us be more confident as creative individuals.  Nithya explains the irony of our quest for belonging and certification, while also desiring to be unique. We talk about how social media forums can be toxic and what a good community really looks like.  We talk about how to build great mental health habits, as well as tips for first-responder care for both ourselves and our loved ones.  We discuss the barriers to getting help and how designers can make a difference. We conclude with some mindset tips on how we can be our own biggest asset. Design Lota is hosted by designers Angeline Bhavya and Sushmita Charlu. 
January 06, 2021
E031 Mental Health for Creatives Part 1
In this episode, we talk about the external factors that affect our mental health as creatives, and learn about the mindsets and habits that can help us find balance. We reflect upon the ways in which in the events this past year (2020) has challenged us and explore ways to feel more in control of our lives and work. We lament the lack of work-life balance that most of us have as creative practitioners and Nithya tells us how we can be more intentional and present in our lives outside of work. We discuss about the host of ambiguities that come with freelancing as designers, and how to manage both internal and external expectations. We talk about the challenges in working in remote teams and how workplace politics can impact us as creatives. We conclude with some mindset tips on how we can be our own biggest asset. References: Nithya, a mental health expert and theater artist is also the co-founder of Heart it Out, an organization that aims to make mental health accessible. Jerusha Isaac is an illustrator and art teacher. Angie shares a quote from the book Productivity for Creative people by Mark McGuinness. Nithya refers to the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron Design Lota is hosted by designers Sushmita Charlu and Angeline Bhavya. Full transcripts can be found on our blog  Intro music by Shankar Narayan
December 22, 2020
E030 Fabrics of Culture with Aditi Jain - Part 2
Aditi shares about her experience of working with textile producer groups remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic and marvels at the resilience of Indian craft.  She shares her thoughts on the merits of unconventional fibers and manmade textiles, and also the issue of over-consumption.   We talk about some applications of technology in textiles and Aditi tells us what excites her the most about textile design. She gives us a 101 on collaborating with skilled craftspeople and the need for rapport.  We conclude this episode with Aditi's list of inspiring textile artists and designers. Full transcript in Design Lota is co-hosted by designers Sushmita Charlu and Angeline Bhavya
October 15, 2020
E030 Fabrics of Culture with Aditi Jain - Part 1
In this episode, we speak to Textile Designer Aditi Jain. Aditi tells us about her decision to pursue a career in textiles and the learnings picked up during her course. She takes us through the process of  designing and making handloom textiles at Gandhigram where she currently works. She talks about the subject of textiles as both art and science, and gives an example of the story beneath the surface of a fabric. We discuss the barriers that prevent traditional textiles from mass adoption and the relevance of khadi in today’s context We talk about plagiarism by fast fashion companies, as one of the dangers to traditional textiles and Aditi explains the distinction between inspiration and appropriation. We wrap up part 1 of this episode reminiscing about craft exhibitions and their role in helping Indians discover textiles. Aditi stresses on the importance of reimagining craft retail online, and creating better support systems for artisans going forward. Check out our blog for more details and references. Design Lota is co-hosted by designers Sushmita Charlu and Angeline Bhavya. Podcast music by Shankar Narayan.
September 27, 2020
E029 Design Mentorship with Anshuman Dhar
In this episode, we speak to recent graduate, UX designer and Co-founder of Cmd+J, Anshuman Dhar who shares how mentorship can help newbies as well as seasoned designers. Anshuman talks about how he moved from chemical engineering to UX design Angie and Anshuman discuss how the definition of mentorship is changing and the power of community mentorship. We note how design institutions have easy access to mentorship in the form of a rich network of different kinds of mentors to learn from. Anshuman describes the gap that Cmd+j seeks to fill. Young designers are looking for ‘someone like us’ who made it. Mentorship is about giving back to the community. As a mentee, assembling your own mentors by finding people who resonate with your unique journey can be powerful. We look at best practices of reaching out to a mentor online. Design Lota blog: Design Lota is hosted by designers Angeline Bhavya and Sushmita Charlu. Podcast Music by Shankar Narayan
August 16, 2020
E028 Product thinking, Contextual questions and emotions in UX Design Interviews with Madhuri Maram Part 2
In Part 2 of this episode, Madhuri - Designer, and Host of the Hireworthy Podcast - gives us valuable insight about applying, positioning oneself and interviewing for a new career opportunity. We discuss in depth, about how developing product thinking skills and understanding business can enable designers who wish to move into product management. Madhuri also tells us why management may not be for everyone, and how to choose between IC and manager roles. We debate about the relevance of the day-long interview format, and Madhuri lays out some of the parameters for ensuring an effective interview for both the parties. She gives us insight into the best way to tackle those nerve-wracking contextual interview questions. We talk about the emotional toll of the job hunt process, and how to practice self-care while improving our skills. We conclude with strategies on how to stay relevant and employable even in the midst of a recession. The transcript for this episode is available on Podcast music by Shankar Narayan Podcast hosts: Sushmita Charlu and Angeline Bhavya
June 13, 2020
E028 Hiring Design (UX and Digital Product Design) with Madhuri Maram Part 1
In Part 1 of this episode, we speak to Madhuri Maram- Designer and Host of the Hireworthy Podcast. She talks about her role as an enabler in design-in-tech recruitment. She brings out the various gaps in the process and tells us how D+P and Xperian were created to support the design community. She gives valuable insight into what designers at different levels should do to set the right expectations for their growth and employability. She tips us off about the non-obvious skills when presenting portfolios while applying for a job, and we talk about the importance of storytelling through one’s work. Madhuri introduces us to the concept of having a Point A, and consistently working towards it with self awareness and external feedback. We discuss about baffling job titles and finding our unique spaces in the spectrum of design skills. References and Transcript on our blog Co-hosts: Sushmita Charlu and Angeline Bhavya Podcast music: Shankar Narayan
June 08, 2020
E027 Crayons for Conservation with Akshaya Zachariah
In this episode, we speak to Akshaya Zachariah, who is an illustrator and conservation artist. We start with the beginnings of her interest in wildlife and nature and what led her to launch Elzac Doodles as a way to use art to raise her voice and also raise environmental awareness. She talks about her work as a WWF voices member and some of the work that she has done with WWF. We discuss the purposeful handling of social media as artists and how she has found community and opportunities through it. She talks about the ups and downs of the freelance illustration career and the ways she navigates it to keep her going. She shares her long list of creative inspirations from various fields like art, illustration, literature, poetry and children's books. Akshaya's instagram: Podcast co-hosts: Sushmita Charlu and Angeline Bhavya Podcast music: Shankar Narayan Design Lota blog:
May 15, 2020
E026 Part 2 - License to Create with Manojna Yeluri
In part 2 of our conversation with Manojna Yeluri - Lawyer and Founder of Artistik License, we continue talking through the legalities of being artists and designers. We talk about the ways she has used social media to make the law approachable and easy to understand and apply for creatives. She talks about entitlement in the form of discounts and freebies being a deterrent to the creative economy and industry as a whole. Among other bad practices in the creative industry, Manojna shares the concept of Passion Exploitation - which tends to justify less payment because the artist or designer is passionate about their work. She talks about the power of community and support to compare notes and bring awareness about their rights as creators. She also calls out the scarcity mindset of project bidding which can negatively affect both the creator and the industry. We go into a discussion on economic and opportunity losses and cancellations because of the current Covid-19 situation around the world, and how to navigate it in the legal sense. We also hear stories of creators taking advantage of other creators in unethical ways and how she as a lawyer dealt with those situations. The transcript and references for this episode are on our blog Podcast Music - Desh by Shankar Narayan Podcast hosts - Sushmita Charlu and Angeline Bhavya
April 24, 2020
E026 Part 1 - License to Create with Manojna Yeluri
In Part 1 of this episode, Manojna Yeluri - Lawyer and Founder of Artistik License, walks us through the legalities of being artists and designers. She tells us what got her working with the creative community as a lawyer. We learn about the methods she has used to demystify legalese and make useful legal information more accessible. We power through those tough questions about how to handle difficult clients and projects and ways to make the process more structured. We also speak about IP, NDAs, plagiarism, power games and managing effective feedback loops. Manojna offers some useful advice on best practices that we can follow as creatives to take care of some of these aspects ourselves. She ponders how the future of the law can be as a dynamic as creativity is and how both parties can learn from each other and build each other up for the better. The transcript for this blog is on our blog Podcast Music - Desh by Shankar Narayan Podcast hosts - Sushmita Charlu and Angeline Bhavya
April 21, 2020
E025 Stories of Visual Culture with Ragini Siruguri - Part 2
In Part 2 of our chat with Ragini Siruguri, Visual Communication Designer at Tara Books, we talk about her love for colours, her photography and visual inspiration.  Ragini shares her approach in her graphic design projects and how local context helps us design better. We discuss the state of Design Education today and Ragini tells us about her course at OwnPath. The transcript for this episode can be found at Co-hosts: Sushmita Charlu and Angeline Bhavya Podcast Music by: Shankar Narayan 
March 20, 2020
E025 Stories of Visual Culture with Ragini Siruguri - Part 1
In this episode we talk to Ragini Siruguri about her work as a book designer at Tara Books.  She shares how she got started and tells us about her interesting book projects while working there.  We also discuss her eye for visual communication and the ways in which she documents the world around her visually. Find the full transcript and references at
March 12, 2020
E024 Play for Everyone
In this episode, we talk to Aditi Agrawal who is the co-founder of Studio Gudgudee - a design studio that works on inclusive playgrounds. We discuss how designing for playful learning requires deep observation and getting out of the way and allowing it to happen. We re-iterate the power of play in the over all development of children and also to transcend the boundaries of age and ability. Aditi shares the challenges of designing for the differently-abled and what sparked the need to make inclusive play spaces rather than just accessible spaces. Sushi and Aditi ponder over how adults can benefit from unstructured, playful experiences and how that can help build bonds among each other and with kids. We talk about the concepts of risk versus hazard in play and how to use risk effectively to design interesting play spaces. We think about the importance of inclusive public spaces and designing for longevity and public usage. [Episode graphic image courtesy: Studio Gudgudee]
November 29, 2019
E023 Experiments with Productivity
In this episode, Sushi and Angie discuss productivity and how it’s about managing expectations and emotions as much as it is about managing time.  We discuss how emotions play a huge role in how we feel about our work and go about accomplishing tasks.  We share how high expectations can be counter-productive and keep us from taking the first step. We talk about how to tend to your to-do list often to keep it realistic.  We look at ways to take real breaks that actually energize us instead of shortcuts that wear us down. We talk about the power of scheduling and saying no.
September 02, 2019
E022 Art as a Life Skill
In this episode, we speak to Nitasha Sarangi, who is an experienced graphic designer and an Art Therapy researcher. Nitasha talks about what sparked her interest in Art Therapy and how art can empower people to deal with issues like stress, grief, personal tragedy and more.  She talks about the variety of art activities like drawing, pottery, music and movement that she uses in her workshops. She also elaborates on the science of Art Therapy and why it works. She also enlightens us on how she points her clients to clinical therapy where that may be more beneficial.  We discuss the importance of teaching art as a core subject in school education. She shares how conducting Art Therapy workshops has made her a more empathetic designer. She shares her views about making art accessible and how natural it is to us as human beings. References: Nitasha’s Art Babblers initiative:
August 09, 2019
S3 Trailer
Presenting Season 3 of the podcast! Coming this Friday, August  9th. We have some interesting episodes lined up - we’re talking about  Inclusive Design, Art Therapy, Productivity, Illustration, Visual  Communication in the Indian Context and more. Stay tuned!
August 08, 2019
E021 The User in UX
In this episode we talk to Ripul Kumar, Head of UX at Tally and Ex-founder of a design research firm, Kern. Ripul talks about how he discovered User Research to be his forte and what led to him opening his own research firm. We discuss how research techniques must be creatively adapted to the cultural context to get meaningful insights. Ripul gives us some ideas on what to do when there is not enough budget or priority given for research in a corporate setting, and how to bring in a culture of research in different ways. We ponder about 'best practices' in the research process and when to use them. Ripul shares his experience watching and being part of the changing design scene in India over the last couple of decades. We talk about Design Leadership and what it takes to lead design in our contexts. Ripul talks about his learnings in the journey from Research Consultant to Head of UX and also a course in Management at MIT Sloan.
September 26, 2018
E020 A year of Design Lota
It's been year since we started this podcast. We're fondly calling it a Lota-versary! While most of our episodes are recorded remotely, for this episode we met and had a quick chat about how we started, what we learnt and some of our favourite episodes. We also video recorded this episode and have it up on our blog
September 12, 2018
E019 Design and Sustainability
In this episode, Sushi and Angie discuss the inconvenient truths about design and sustainability, and what we can do about it. We talk about art and design as tools to educate people about sustainability issues. We discuss cost, convenience and customer psychology. We touch upon the dangers of greenwashing, and getting to the 'why' of the problem. We talk about the success of some symptom-driven solutions, and address the importance of thinking in systems. We brainstorm a few ideas on how we can bring sustainability into the digital world as well.
August 29, 2018
E018 Type Around Us
We talk to Pooja Saxena - A typeface designer who has worked with all kinds of scripts, and also works on collaborative type projects in public spaces. Pooja talks about what brought her back to India after finishing her Master's in Typeface Design in the UK and why she enjoys working in India and working from home. She takes us behind the scenes into the depths of the Type Design Process. Having worked on Indic scripts like the Ol Chiki project, Farsan (A Gujarati Typeface), and Devanagari, as well as English fonts, she gives us a perspective of how a type designer looks at and works with type. In particular we talk about her projects like Typerventions and Type Walks which help both designers and non-designers engage with type and even language and history in a meaningful, collaborative way. More details at
August 08, 2018
E017 The Anatomy of Industrial Design
In this episode, we talk to Karan Patel, Industrial Designer and co-founder of Meshined Design, about what it takes to put a great product out there. Some of the points we touch upon: Engineers turning into designers, How the Engineering and Design fields inform each other, and how engineers and designers can work together. Balancing and learning from both product and service mindsets. The importance of understanding the intent and setting a context, by defining the constraints before delving into a design problem. How the definition of product 'quality' is dependent on perception and price. How prototyping is a powerful skill that allows us to think with our hands, and requires systems and spaces that allow for this act of making. The need to go beyond aesthetics while designing a product. Crowdfunding as an idea validation and feedback tool. The diverse domains that designers can get involved in to work on to solve problems.
July 25, 2018
E016 Designers and Tools
In this episode, Sushi and Angie chat about designers and the tools of their trade. We attempt to define what design tools are, and what qualifies as a design tool. We reminisce about a time when design was more about thinking with your hands. We question if tools beginning to define the designer, and does knowing or owning tools ensure a superior quality of design work? We discuss the importance of a foundation of intangible and valuable design tools in a world where tools come and go so often.
July 11, 2018
E015 Design for Learning
Mydhili talks about her journey from a psychology major to an edtech entrepreneur and what caused the shift. She tells us about her interesting work with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she did her Master's in the Technology in Education course. She also did a project with MIT Media Lab during this time, which she walks us through. We learn about qualitative user research techniques especially when you're working with children and young adults. She brings out the importance of building trust and having genuine curiosity about children's lives to glean useful insights that can help designers come up with better educational products for them. She walks us through what sparked the creation of Young Current and what it takes to build a child-safe news reading experience while also keeping it interesting. She also gives us her take on where edtech is headed next and how budding edtechpreneurs and designers can find their way into this interesting field.
June 27, 2018
E014 Design Portfolios
We chat with Martijn Van den Broeck, author of the Unofficial Design Portfolio Handbook, about putting our work out there, personal branding, and how helping others is as effective as portfolios in creating opportunities. We talk about Martijn's journey into design and his experience as a student at Umea institute of Design in Sweden. Martijn tells us how he got started writing about Design Portfolios and how his Medium articles on this topic got him onto IDEO's radar. He shares how sharing your journey and your imperfect work can be a wonderful way to showcase your authenticity and create opportunities for meaningful work. He talks about his Internship opportunities at IDEO and Google. He also shares some practical advice for designers and students who are working on their portfolios. Martijn's portfolio and his handbook can be found here: Umea Institute of Design: Design Lota blog:
June 13, 2018
E013 Embracing Ambiguity
Sushi and Angie talk about how Ambiguity and Confusion can be a path to creative courage, deep empathy and happy accidents.
May 30, 2018
E012 Design and Ethics
In the Season 1 Finale episode, Sushi & Angie ponder over the ethical questions a designer faces. For references and entire transcript:
December 13, 2017
E011 Design and #lifegoals
Manoj Chenthamarakshan, a designer turned life-coach, talks about how our state of mind can affect our work. References and Transcript for this episode at:
November 22, 2017
E010 Design and Spaces
Design duo Adrita Das and Karan Worah of 'Smarter than a waffle' talk about various kinds of spaces impact design. References and full transcript for this episode at
November 08, 2017
E009 Process Prowess
We talk about using an open-minded approach to the design process.
October 25, 2017
E008 Being a Designpreneur
Saloni Pabuwal Goyal tells us how she built and runs her bespoke stationery business. References and the episode transcript can be found here: Music credit: 'Try Anything Once' by Lee Rosevere
October 18, 2017
E007 Type and History
Type Designer and Diver Vaishnavi Murthy talks about how to keep ancient scripts alive and relevant. Transcript and references are available at: Music Credit - 'Try Anything Once' by Lee Rosevere
October 11, 2017
E006 Friending Feedback
Sushi and Angie talk about feedback and how to make the most of it. References and transcript for this episode can be found here: Music Credit: 'Try Anything Once' by Lee Rosevere
October 04, 2017
E005 Design Schooled
We talk to Sanika Palsikar, a design student about life in design school and dreams for the future. References and complete transcript for this episode at: Music credit - 'Try Anything Once' by Lee Rosevere
September 27, 2017
E004 Design And Travel
We talk to designers Rohan Amonkar and Dinudey Baidya about their passion for travel. References and complete transcript for this episode at: Music credit - 'Try Anything Once' by Lee Rosevere
September 20, 2017
E003 Out of the Comfort Zone
Sushi and Angie share stories about that cosy place - the Comfort Zone, and why, when and how we must get out of it. References and complete transcript for this episode at: Music credit - 'Try Anything Once' by Lee Rosevere
September 13, 2017
E002 Design for Social Impact
We talk to Suchita Isaac, who's worked as a designer at U&I, a non-profit organisation. References and complete transcript for this episode at: Music credit - 'Try Anything Once' by Lee Rosevere
September 06, 2017
E001 Why are you a designer?
Sushi and Angie discuss this big question that invokes both passion and existential crisis. See the full post on References and complete transcript for this episode at: Music credit - 'Try Anything Once' by Lee Rosevere
September 05, 2017
E000 DesignLota Trailer
Launching this wednesday, September 6th with two brand new episodes. We're so excited. Join us! Music Credit: Try Anything Once by Lee Rosevere
September 02, 2017