Liz Corbin chaired a panel with Justyna Swat (POC21 Paris), David Li (Shenzen) and Craig Dunlop (Cape Town).
Justyna spoke about POC21 – when her and a team built a ‘village’ on castle grounds in a rural area near to Paris. They created a space where they built a community from the ground up and developed a series of ideas surrounding climate change and innovation in making towards this cause.
David Li – spoke about the Shenzhen community and what life is like there.
Craig Dunlop – created an amazing space in Capetown, kind of by accident. He created an open workshop then developed into a place supporting those in unemployment into employment, through the power of making. He matched up employment skills with making skills eg trust & soldering.
Session 2: Making and Humanitarium Relief
Laura James – spoke about Humanitarium Makers, who use small-scale, local production to solve humanitarium problems. An example she spoke of was the sterile clips that midwives use to cut umbilical cords. They had been provided with a certain amount of them after an earthquake in the region they were working in. The next best option was to use the finger of a sterile glove – which were also in short supply. This is less than ideal, so they 3D printed these clips. The approach of HM is to identify local problems and solve them with simple production – training up locals with the equipment and then leaving it behind when they leave the area.
This idea of re-localising manufacture was spoken about a lot during the 3 days, which is interesting as it almost goes backwards in terms of progress.
Session 3: Making and Manufacture
James Tooze chairs panel discussion with Ruth Claxton (woop woop the Brum gang) Adrian McEwan, Paul Sohi, and Alon Meron.
Alon Meron – spoke about 1:1 solutions and multiplying that approach. He works to put together the ‘public’ – people with design needs, and designers/makers. An example he used was working with a stroke sufferer, who needed a device to help them put on their trousers.
Ruth – spoke about Workshop Bham, Make Works and Production Space and how the linked-up-ness of artists/makers and those with the tools and skills, was an interesting journey.
Adrian – talked about his internet of things. Powering devices with data – eg a twitterbot detects when a certain phrase is used and blows bubbles.
Paul Sohi – I didn’t write anything down sorry Paul you must have been too charismatic. Or I had a caffeine lul.
Session 4: The Role of Making in a Wider Civic Infrastructure
Laura Billing – 'The Open Works was an experimental project aimed at creating new ways that Lambeth Council can work with residents to develop a sustainable future for West Norwood: socially, economically and environmentally. It ran for 12 months between February 2014-February 2015.’
· Making really is considered to be wide within this context. Though I was a little surprised at the lack of mention of 'traditional' ceramics, glass, textiles, metalwork. But that’s good. That’s one of the things I want to explore, the depth and breadth of making.
· Collaboration is key. Something I'm a big fan of. There was a lot of talk about collaboration between mindsets/skillsets and how, actually, engineers, scientists, crafters, makers, are quite similar in the way they approach things. They just have different skills in terms of the methods, and different areas of knowledge.
· Localisation as supposed to globalisation. Something mentioned frequently was how we look at manufacture and production, and how perhaps how Western society should rethink how we look at manufacture. Concepts such as OpenDesk seemed very popular- where furniture designs are kept online and then downloaded locally, with pieces being cut for the furniture in 'local' workshops.
· Reverting to 'the olden days' but with new technologies and awareness. As above, reverting to some old ways of living seemed to be a common thread. Taking elements of the past, small community production and trading, but combining it with the powers of technology.
· Design for different purposes and functionalities. This seems pretty obvious, but it was highlighted quite a lot during the 3 days. Design for problem solving, design for disguise, design for imitation, design for empathy... so many purposes and ways of approaching questions, problems or themes.
One final thought-rant about makers/making. Making is great. That was very clear from the 3 days and it was so great to feel like a part of the 'making' community, surrounded by so many people who loved making as much as I do. It made me think about people I know, and humanity in general. Is everyone a maker? What makes a maker? If you're not a maker, what are you?
Thank you to anyone who reached the end of this blog. It's mainly for my own records and to help me digest everything I saw and heard during my time in Manchester, but it's nice if other people can get something out of my trip too!