Interview with Tony Fish – co-founder of FabLab London.
Can you tell me something about the beginnings of FabLab?
Beginnings of Fab Lab 13 years ago, the whole world is going digital, who’s going to make products, digital fabrication, how you could digitally design anything anywhere, and make it anywhere by having the same machines
With 3D printers, laser cut, CNC machines you reduce the cost of making digital fabrication from millions of dollars to tens of thousands; as soon as that starts you can technically make digital fabrication available to anyone, which means anyone can design anywhere and make everywhere, which was the whole process – history of fab lab
FabLab London – 2,5 years ago; making digital fabrication in the city, most of them (fab labs) are based in rural areas or in education establishments; so how to we make one commercial.
Fab labs must be accessible, fully accessible for one day to the public for free.
Making is not a trend, it has always been! Making has been part of our psychology; reality is it’s problem-solving – finding mechanisms to solve them; and now it’s just more accessible, it’s easier to get access to it than it was 10 years ago, it’s cheaper than it was 20 years ago.
What fascinates me is that anybody can walk in with very little skill and actually get very good result, which I think is transformational point of why these places are interesting,it’s taking it from being engineering lead hard to accessible to anybody, not easy, you can be pretty determined, but you can still do it.
What do you thing about open source design?
Open source design – everything we do is open source, it’s a great movement and it’s an exactly good thing to do.
What do you think of an idea that future house be able to produce it’s own facilities?
It’s completely stupid idea; the people who created those ideas is people who created the printers; it’s a nice headline; Donald Trump is going for the fake news, and people like news, it’s a story that people like cause they can’t touch, feel or understand it.
What is the maker’s profile according to you?
MAKE IT UP!
It’s somebody who does embroidery, it’s a mother who solves a problem of her child, grandad who’s able to take grandson fishing and is able to solve the problem besides the canal, Neil Armstrong landing on the moon and the whole system switches down – he has to make some choices; which one is better maker than another? Why is any more relevant? It’s problem-solving, and actually, we all solve problems. Human beings! There are quite a few animals who use tools to solve problems. The reality is they’re makers because they’re problem-solving.
What is the future of making?
It’s much like the past. People solving problems. Where I find it interesting is people talking about smart cities, they make people who are smart to go to the cities and solve problems; I want to go to the dumbest city, with a lot of problems, cause it’s more fun, more attractive.
Is the failure a part of the process?
There are two processes – one is education; failing makes you miserable and it doesn’t makes you to go and achieve. So we have built in schools the word ‘failure’ which says you failed, instead of saying: you know what, actually all you need to do is twick this and do that. That’s not failure, it’s an iteration. We carry on using a wrong word. Nobody fails on anything. How do you learn? You don’t learn because you fail, you learn because you improve. The mindset saying you’re a failure is wrong. To me there’s an aspect of control: you’re a failure.
What is sustainable making?
Sustainability is bullshit! For most things, you can’t actually determine whether it’s sustainable or not because we don’t have an economy which actually values; the values of something that goes onto the ground. We don’t value the energy that goes into the system, or the entropy that’s created.
Sustainable is what? Measure between two points of somebody who decided that it looks good on a piece of marketing to say they’re sustainable. Rubbish word and terrible thought. It’s overused and just wrong.
Any advice for my service?
One of the things we’ve done, that worked relatively well, we don’t get people to make things first, cause making things is actually quite hard. It’s much easier to take things apart and discover the things that are wrong from what you’ve taken apart, which helps you then design things. Look at modularity of things and get inspired, but if you’re gonna design it, how you gonna do it. Cause if you just give people a design problem and say: go build they actually have to have a problem to solve, identify it. It’s really tricky. Taking through a process of education, where you discover the problem. How do you repair things before you make them? It’s an easier process. Go for the easy things.