Nutanix Flux — Designing an offbeat design event

11 min readMay 6, 2020


Flux is a small but mighty series of design conversations cooked up at Nutanix Design Studio in Bangalore. Here is the story of Flux, how the first chapter was ideated, planned, and executed.

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Necessity is the mother of invention…

In 2018, the world hosted a million design conferences and events. Out of these million design events, at least 90% focussed on our very own ‘User Experience Design’. Full disclosure, These are obviously made up numbers but you get the point.
It isn’t far fetched to believe that the ever-increasing importance of User-Experience Design has led to its growing presence in design events across the world, sometimes eclipsing other disciplines in its wake. Even though most of the events are educative and informative, the realization sets in soon that a good chunk of them emphasizes only on the current trends.
So what happens to other streams like Graphic Design, Visual Communication, Literature, Performance Art, Architecture, Art of Business (Yes, it is an art), etc.? They have been brewed over centuries and have inculcated human behaviour, needs, and feelings. Being aware of these domains will help us design better experiences by equipping us with a deepened understanding of the society we live in.

We are a team of 18 creative and passionate designers at Nutanix, Bangalore. As a team, we are always on the lookout for unique and interesting design events. While in search for events that would go beyond just UX and provide learning opportunities across other such domains, we realized there was a severe paucity of such forums.

The artist Austin Kleon once advised,

“Draw the art you want to see,
play the music you want to hear,
write the books you want to read,
build the products you want to use.”

The panel discussion in action

In 2018, we started inviting designers/ creative individuals from these different domains to share their knowledge with various teams in Nutanix. However, we realized soon that the hunger for such offbeat content was widespread. Hence, we opened our doors to outsiders from the industry and rebranded the design conversations as ‘Flux’.

Flux is a symbiotic platform that gets people from multiple creative domains together and celebrates a variety of talent, skills, and knowledge that would otherwise either be unreachable or go overlooked. Following the philosophical footsteps of Austin Kleon ‘We built an event we wanted to attend’.

The destination determines the journey…

By and large, any event intends to achieve the holy trinity i.e. Learning, Networking, and Recruiting. But things get muddy if you try to address all these in a single event. Focusing on one of these as end goals, not only keeps everything aligned but also helps in decision making. Interestingly enough, if either of these is done well, the other two are bound to follow as an outcome. At Flux, we decided to focus on creating a platform for learning.

The venue is ready to welcome the audience

We wanted the event to be cosy, casual and conversational where people could talk their hearts out, discuss, debate and learn. Instead of a huge crowd, we knew a handful of passionate people would complement this idea well and hence we decided to start small.

A theme is an adhesive for ideas…

Hari and Deepti sharing their stories with the audience

The universe is made of stories and not atoms. And stories have to be told. A story can make us laugh, make us cry. A story can give us hope and inspiration in moments of despair. Although stories shared verbally help us relive certain moments, we often encounter experiences that leave us short of words and we end up saying things like -

“I can’t explain how great it was”,
“I can’t put it in words”
“You had to be there to see it”,

Seeing the Taj Mahal is much better than someone explaining what a white building looks like. Many times words fail us. Words are not enough.

Aren’t stories more powerful when we experience them visually?
As an ode to the visual medium of storytelling, we finalized ‘Visual narratives’ as our theme.

A story is only as good as the storytellers…

With Visual narratives as our theme, we were looking at the mountainous challenge — ‘Finding the speakers’. We started looking for Artists and designers who tell Visual stories with offbeat mediums that are extremely interesting yet invisible to a common eye. We reached out to our network, colleagues, batchmates, and acquaintances and within no time we found our heroes, our visual storytellers who would pick this event and make it something else entirely.

1. Hari and Deepti — The paper craftsmen

Hari and Deepti are a husband-wife artist duo based in Mumbai and previously Denver. Their collaboration with paper and light started as an experiment in 2010. Known internationally for their unique papercut lightboxes they travelled to Asia and Europe collecting inspirations for their art and showcasing their work through solo shows and workshops.

Hari and Deepthi sharing their love for paper

They are storytellers who have always been drawn towards the imaginative aspect of storytelling. Just like Stories, the paper has layers of tones, shades and depths in them and hence become a reflection of the stories they are destined to tell. Hari and Deepthi believe that “Paper is brutal in its simplicity as a medium. It demands the attention of the artist while it provides the softness they need to mold it into something beautiful. It is playful, light, colourless, yet colourful. It is minimal yet intricate. It reflects light, creates depth, and illusions in a way that it takes the beholder through a journey with limitless possibilities.”

A glimpse of Hari and Deepti’s intricate papercut work

At Flux, Hari and Deepti shared their inspirations, process and techniques. They also candidly shared their chemistry at work and spoke about how easy yet challenging it is to work with your partner. What stood out for us was how they continue to get their inspiration from mother nature and how it continues to show up in their work.

Know more about Hari and Deepti here —

2. Harshvardhan and Raj Kadam — The Mural Maestros

Walls, usually, confine us by creating boundaries. But can they become a portal to a different world? Can they be used as canvases to create larger than life experiences? That is exactly what our second set of speakers do. Raj and Harsh are brothers who have been collaborating since their childhood to make Visual wonders. Their work has a distinct artistic identity and represents a unique amalgamation of their experience across Design, Visual Arts, Animation, and Technology.

Harsh sharing his stories

They believe that “Every mural work that we have done is a reflection of the space and its people.” And truly, such murals are not only the journals of civilization but also reminders to the future generation of their legacy. Harsh shared how they look at art as an adventure and how Indian mythology has been a great source of inspiration for both of them. As they flipped through their sketchbook, the audience couldn’t do much but stare in absolute awe.

One of Harshwardhan’s work on walls of Pune

At Flux, Harsh shared a few personal stories from his childhood which helped him and his brother overcome personal hurdles and become such a big name. From painting on walls at their tiny residential quarter to painting the largest Mural in India, Harsh kept reinforcing the fact that stories are important.

Check out their amazing work on

3. Kokaachi duo — The storytellers

Our final speaker duo Pratheek and Tina grew up in the foothills of the Western Ghats in Southern India and were always inspired by the stories of the Kokaachi — a monster who gobbled up little kids who were fussy at mealtimes. But years later, they discovered that the Kokaachi are gentle creatures only to fall in love with them and eventually naming their studio after them.

Pratheek and Tina sharing their creative journey

At Kokaachi studio, you can see the collaboration of some of the most amazing storytellers. Kokaachi studio has been consistently publishing a diverse range of graphic narratives — comics, picture books, illustrated poems, matchbox stories, concertinas, and more! The books designed at Kokaachi showcase their sensibilities, aesthetic and undying love for print. From the stories the books tell to the art that illuminates them; from the paper, they print on to the way it feels in a reader’s hands, everything is crafted with meticulous attention.

The mixtape series by Kokaachi studio

At Flux, Pratheek and Tina took us through their journey from collaborating on their first publication to working on projects as big as the ‘Gully Boy’ (Oscar Nominated Hindi Movie 2019). They shared insights into the industry and tips for running a studio. Most importantly, the joy they derive from creating these comics was so contagious that it took the audience on a nostalgic ride to their childhood where Pran’s Chacha Chowdhury, Stan lee’s Spiderman and Bob Kane’s batman dwelled.

They both emphasized the importance of finding the right talent and building the right team to have a collaborative output — that is rich and satisfying.

You can find out more about Kokaachi studio at

The details make the design…

A good storyteller needs a good platform too. Finding the amazing speakers was only a job half done. We still had to plan everything and we approached it like any other design problem. We researched and spent the first few days studying various events organized around us. We looked at what design events at multinationals like Google and Uber looked like and also how small meetups or music pop-ups were planned in cafes.

The flux logo uses ‘chat balloon’ as the basic visual element

After the research, the team divided the event in different verticals like — Audience Management, Marketing, Speaker coordination, Hospitality, Space, and Media. We started with designing the brand identity for Flux. After rigorous iterations, the brand identity was finalized and that’s when we kick-started our marketing and PR efforts. On social media, we created Facebook events page and Instagram events (go where the audience is) but also created a simple and elegant Flux website. We carefully planned a well-scheduled marketing campaign which was complemented with beautifully crafted creative collaterals.

An array of posters which demonstrates the dynamic nature of conversations

Once the social campaign was launched, we started focussing on the audience experience. We designed an attendee’s journey right from the entry gate, parking, the elevators, cafe, washrooms, event space (9th floor)and back. Once we visualized the journey we could carefully have design-inserts that not only helped the attendees but also elevated their experience. From signages in parking lots to selection of background music, from the seating arrangement to the delicious snacks, every tiny thing was planned way before. We also designed a goodies bag (like every other event) which had eco-friendly recycled books, seed pens, some stickers, and chocolates.

For Audience registration, we used a third-party event management website which saved us time. To our surprise, we were completely booked in less than 24 hours with 40 people on the waitlist. Since it was a free event and that too on a Saturday morning, we were sure not everyone who has registered would show up. We also had researched the registration vs attendance ratio at other similar events and noticed they were pretty low. Therefore, we moderated the attendees and called each one of them individually to confirm their registration. This way we could convert more than 50% of the waitlisted ones.

Recycled and Eco-friendly goodies

As everything was planned, everything must have worked out well right?

Wrong! we saw Murphy’s law in action. On the eleventh hour, we had multiple mishaps from the change of venue space to technical difficulties. We rearranged the setup into a completely new space and the audience had no clue about the struggle behind the curtains (thankfully!).

That’s the benefit of having an energetic, proactive but strategy-driven team. The struggle becomes invisible when you have teammates having each other’s back. The toil in putting things together looks obvious at first but only when you dig deeper you see the amount of effort gone in the same.

If you build it ‘well’, they will come…

The event, to our surprise, received an unbelievable response. We had opened up about 80 seats for Flux, but within 18 hours of our first post, we sold all the spots available with over 700 visits to our brand new website. With that started a flood of requests for additional seats. And we had to respect the audience, we extended the seating capacity to 120 (from 80) and even then we had 40 people on the waitlist who were willing to stand in the back without any seating. That was super encouraging.

A glimpse of the audience

It was overwhelming to see so much talent in a single forum generously sharing knowledge, discussing and debating, asking questions, and most importantly smiling. We rarely had any walkout through the 5 hours of the event, and when people eventually left after the event, they only had gratitude and praises for us. A lot of them followed up on social platforms and tweeted about how refreshing and well planned ‘Flux’ was. And that’s all we needed. It was worth all the sleepless nights.

Take pride in what you do…

End of the day, it was a small event, organized by a small team attended by a small crowd, yet big in its aspiration. We are very happy with what we could pull off in a very very short span of time and with a limited budget. And Isn’t that what it is all about - ‘Creating things that give you happiness’?

We are planning to host more such chapters in the future, each aligned to a new domain, so it will be a good idea to stay connected on our social channels :


Want to know about Nutanix?

Nutanix is an enterprise product company that helps organizations worldwide build their data centres on the cloud as well on the premises so that companies like SBI, the national stock exchange can run their business-critical applications on these data centres. There’s a lot of complexity and technicality that’s hidden behind the scenes when consumers use these applications.

The Design Team at Nutanix Bangalore

Design is taken very seriously and we designers work very closely with the engineering teams to hide all the complexity and allow our users to focus on important tasks. We are one of those few enterprise product design companies that provide consumer-grade experience. In the team along with interaction designers, we also have content experts, graphic designers working on iconography, researchers, and full-time illustrators and motion designers. We are amongst those few companies in the enterprise design space having full-time Illustrators and we use them to bring in delight.

We are constantly looking for talent to join our family. If you feel like you could fit in just well, please reach out to us on

May the flux be with you!

This piece is co-authored by Parikshit Deshmukh and Sandeep Karmarkar (Director of Design at Nutanix).




An Architect turned UX designer and an almost-artist who loves to create simple, efficient and delightful stuff. I can talk about Matrix and Mythology for hours