Makerspaces benchmarking

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This benchmarking was developed on a basis of my personal experiences of visiting the makerspaces, as well as interviewing the staff, members and the management. Data was also gathered via survey aiming to obtain the member’s experiences of practicing in a particular makerspace.  

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Kinda benchmarking.

I would like to refer to the events that I found intriguing, or just entertaining as a reference to my project.

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  1. DIY Lovin’!

It’s long been said that constructing flat-pack furniture is the ultimate test of any relationship. Dating site Match has launched a dating experience to put that theory to the test! IKEA speed dating realness! I did register for the event, however, the dating site never responded to me…

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2. The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites

An attempt to build a toaster from scratch, it took the researcher nine months and cost 250 times more than the toaster he bought at the store. The project helps us to reflect on our cheap consumer culture, as well as an urgency for ethical design and materials easier to recycle.

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3. Plywood exhibition, V&A

Upcoming in July (unfortunately) plywood exhibition will be reflecting on this material that created the modern world, and often is underrated. Plywood is the main material that undoubtedly democratised the making; used by many open source design platforms, as it enables anyone to make by using not hands, but the software and technology.

Interview with Tony Fish

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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? 

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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.

 

(a bit late) Making Foldschool pieces of furniture reflection

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Foldschool is a Nicola Enrico Stäubli project – cardboard furnitures for kids, which templates are available to download. I have made a few of them as one of my first research sprints.

My general impression was that they could have been designed better, considering the waste.

First of all, following the website tips I bought certain size cardboard – as it turns out, unnecessary, as most of the pieces would fit in a small size, recycled cardboard. When I realised it I run outside and took pictures of all the cardboard waste on the road.

And on the following picture, it is impossible to fit the third piece anywhere, I tried. And the templates are impossible to use for the second time. Also, the waste seem to be twice bigger than the actual cardboard used. I did weight them, and it turned out to be truth. I’ve got the pictures.

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However, for what it’s worth, Foldschool turns out to be the only open source design I found so far, and is possible to make at home, with basic tools. If you’re not getting heart attack looking at those pictures, like I do.

Interview with Esther Ellard

 

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Interview with Esther Ellard – community manager of Makerversity. I asked her about the general profile of Makerversity, the makers, and the community. I was particularly interested in their learning programs as well as the open source projects available on the website. I should have probably recorded the interview and my only excuse is that I came to the meeting straight from the airport.

Makerversity is a community of emergent maker businesses. They have campuses at Somerset House and Marineterrein, Amsterdam. They run co-working spaces for professional makers. They bring together people of different expertises and backgrounds, building the community. They also run learning programs for children and teachers. Some of the projects created at Makerversity are accessible as open source, as DIY Microscope for example.

I asked Esther how she perceives the failure, as my focus group indicated that the main boundary from the making is the fear of failure. She said that is must be something that we have to accept as the part of the process. “Failing 100 times is learning, and discovering the problem” – I recorded this bit!

 

Focus group

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The first focus group was conducted among DMC students, with one Illustration student joining us.

Issues (Highlighted ones are the ones I’m gonna design for): 

  • Finding out what you actually want to make 
  • Giving up halfway through – because of getting bored, or lack of skills to complete it
  • Lack of skills to make it perfect
  • Not having enough time to complete the task: Kristin “I wish I could make a jumper in an hour, but I can’t”
  • Not committing fully to the task
  • Feeling pressure of producing something perfect; kids are forgiven for being imperfect, but adults are not
  • Not being able to see beauty in imperfection
  • Lack of knowledge of what kind of materials do I need, where to buy them, how long would it take (Silvia)
  • One of my greatest issues is that it gets messy, I love sewing and crafting, but making the mess and having to clean up (Kristin)
  • We should learn to be able to see things as imperfect, see it as manifestation of what’s inside of you rather than trying to make it perfect, it’s like trusting your identity, understanding what’s your visual language is in the end, rather than trying to copy someone else’s (Calvino)
  • Lucia: I feel that I should meet some expectations and that I fail when it’s not as good as it needs to be, I feel that I’m wasting my time that I could dedicate to something more worthwhile my time, because with painting I would do it only for my pleasure; unless it’s something that I would be commissioned for I don’t feel like it’s worth doing
  • Jonc: I don’t usually try to make 3D stuff because of the mess, and the failure is so much bigger than when you draw; I hate redrawing stuff and I’m always trying to make it on the one go
  • I would enjoy more informal making, in a space that I don’t have to clean up after, and I will find all the materials I need  – Kristin
  • I have fear of preciseness, there’s always gonna be something missing, I don’t like that idea  – Calvino
  • The hard part is the tools, like the sewing machine, expensive tools, I can’t afford buying tools, availability if the tools, learn about the tools; to learn this at school maybe – Kiki
  • A project where you’ll get supplied with all the parts you need rather than looking for them, a guide, teacher, more like a consultancy, draw a clock you want and get someone to help you with how you make it – Calvino
  • Once you’re not a kid you’re not forgiven for being imperfect – Maeve

Interim exhibition

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My first live research sprint was taking part in the exhibition ‘In process’ at London College of Communication. I prepared the activity for the audience in order to collect data. I asked participants to create a practical item out of abstract shapes in primary colours: a tool, tower or a desk item. Also, I proposed my participants to put a price on it, in order to prove that the emotional attachment affects the perception of the value.

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Participants aged 19-30 have made around 30 items. In terms of the price, some of them were priced accordingly to how the actual item it represents would cost, many of them were tagged as ‘priceless’, and the others were labeled with ridiculous prices, as 1.000.000.

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