Clabots has been a professor at a number of reputable institutions, focusing his courses on designing for real-world needs
Clabots has been teaching Industrial Design at Pratt Institute since 2015. Currently, he teaches an innovative senior capstone design studio entitled Design in Context. This course asks students to look outside of themselves when designing a product and look at the real-world needs of the modern day. To accomplish this, Clabots requires students to read news articles and identify changes in society, the environment, or markets that indicate problems which industrial designers are uniquely suited to solve. This approach is centered around the three specific questions that drive Clabots’ design philosophy: Why, How, and What? Why does this problem need design as a solution, and Why are industrial designers uniquely positioned to solve it, rather than doctors, engineers, or policy makers? How do you reframe the problem to find a new white space for innovation? What is the actual object that can solve the problem?
Clabots' approach also focuses heavily on design theory, pushing students to understand how they are thinking and making decisions. He speaks about design in terms of lateral and linear thinking: lateral thinking being the exploration of different ideas, and linear thinking being the development and refinement of those ideas. Clabots encourages students to think through a number of ideas, compare the best options, and move forward to refine those options. When development stalls, one can employ this strategy to explore different variations on a concept to see if there is a better way.