Archive for the 'Professional vs Amateur Design' Category

Refab Space and FabLab: Learning Lunch with Integreat Plus

I attended a really interesting event yesterday – a ‘Learning Lunch’ with Integreat Plus hosted by Sheffield’s Electric Works. The subject was the potential role of a FabLab in Sheffield, which would be a fantastic resource for all creative practitioners, both professional and amateur in the area.

The Access Space, Sheffield

The Chips building, home of Manchester's Fablab









The event was efficiently chaired by Richard Motely, the Managing Director of Integreatplus (despite some problems with the projection technology!). Two short presentations were made, one by James Wallbank, chief executive officer of Access Space, and the other by Eddie Kirkby of the Manufacturing Institute. Kirkby is closely involved with the successfully up and running FabLab in Manchester.

Together, they gave a concise overview of the potential for FabLabs to provide free, open access to lifelong learning and development, as well as the ability for a diverse range of people (importantly including disabled people who might otherwise be marginalised) to design and produce a wide range of products without relying on the existing mass production/consumption paradigm.

For more details and a different perspective, you could have a look at Jane Lambert’s blog. As a barrister specialising in Intellectual Property, she has a particular interest in the possible impact of Open Design and direct digital manufacturing on professional design.




Open Design Presentation in Gothenburg

5th October, 2011

I spent most of last week in Sweden, and gave a talk on Open Design at the Business and Design Lab at the University of Gothenburg. The talk took place in the HDK building, which has been a School of Art and Design since it opened over 160 years ago! The presentation appeared to go well, with over 100 people attending, and raised many questions from the audience.

More details of the content of the presentation can be found on the Business and Design Lab’s website here.


Open Design Now book launch in Amsterdam

8 June 2011,
Pakhuis De Zwijger, Amsterdam

The new book, Open Design Now: why design cannot remain exclusive, was launched this week in Amsterdam.
As the website of the book explains: “Design is undergoing a revolution. Technology is empowering more people to create and disseminate designs, and professionals and enthusiasts are using it to share their work with the world. Open design is changing everything from furniture to how designers make a living.”
Full details about this timely book, which covers all aspects of this emerging field of practice, can be found on the Premsela website here.

The launch was very well attended, and the editors and many of the authors were interviewed before the audience, explaining the various drivers behind the project. A number of machines producing open source designs were also on display, including an Ultimaker machine and a laser cutter, which I spotted was cutting paper necklaces made from the words of a quote from my own contribution to the book: “The Cult of the Connoisseur has given way to the Cult of the Amateur – those who know themselves what is best for them”.

In the true spirit of openness, the book is gradually being made available online under the Creative Commons Licence. My article, ‘Orchestral Manoeuvres in Design’ is the first article to be openly accessible, and can be accessed at the book’s official website here.

Left: Three of the editors of the book, Bas Van Abel, Roel Klaassen and Lucas Evers are interviewed on stage by journalist and writer Tracy Metz to answer questions about Open Design Now.

Open Design workshop, Graz

Open Design workshop, 30 May 2011
fashionLAB, Klosterwiesgasse 5,
Graz, Austria

I was invited this week by Creative Industries Styria and Microgiants to host a workshop on Open Design in Graz, Austria. The workshop was titled ‘Open Design and Factories of the Future’, and looked at the issues of open approaches to design and their use alongside direct digital manufacturing techniques. Although a small venue, the 2 hour workshop was in-depth, and included an interesting discussion. The possible directions Open Design might take seem to be wide open (no pun intended) and I believe the direction will evolve organically as it will be determined democratically by all those involved. Whichever direction it eventually takes, its impact will be huge.

Before the workshop, I was interviewed by Patrick Dax from the Austrian online technology newspaper ‘Futurezone’. The interview covered a number of issues about the nature of Open Design and its impact on the role of the designer in the production, distribution and consumption of goods.

A transcript of the interview, titled ‘Open Design: The End of Mass Production’ (text in German) is available here.

The Milan Breakfasts

Studio Zeta Milano, Milan, Italy.
Friday 15 April, 2011

This week, I’ve been in Milan at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, where I introduced the topic of Open Design to a public audience for a ‘Milan Breakfast’ event. I spoke for half an hour about the issues that need to be addressed and the potential impact on design in a world where everyone can be a designer. Then the chair, Saskia van Stein of the Design Academy, Eindhoven, went round the table extracting the views of the designers Yves Béhar, Martí Guixé, Thomas Lommée, Tal Erez and Joost Grootens. Some lively debate with the audience followed, proving once again that this emerging issue is proving to be provocative with all involved.

  There are slideshows of photographs and video of contributions from those around the table for all the breakfast events available on the Premsela website .

Press Release:

The Milan Breakfasts

Start the day with coffee, croissants and quality conversation on design

AMSTERDAM – Premsela, the Netherlands Institute for Design and Fashion, and the Design Academy Eindhoven present The Milan Breakfasts, taking place during the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan.

We invite everyone to join us at 9.30am on Thursday 14, Friday 15 and Saturday 16 April for free coffee, croissants and quality conversations on design. International design professionals and educators will talk with each other and the audience about three urgent issues: consumer trust, open design and designing for social change.

Before all the galleries open and the frenzy of the Salone takes hold of Milan, start the day with breakfast and food for thought.

Trust This Breakfast – Thursday 14 April

Premsela and Scott Burnham have been investigating the problem of consumers’ waning trust in the products and services they use since 2009 in the Trust Design project. So far, the design world has not succeeded in finding satisfactory solutions. We’ll talk with Burnham, Lilet Breddels of Volume magazine, and the designers Gijs Bakker and Alberto Meda on how design can win back the public’s trust.

Open Design – Friday 15 April

Don’t ask what design can do for you – ask what you can do for design! More than four decades after John Kennedy’s original exhortation, the masses have all the tools, information and production methods to become designers themselves. But is it really true that anyone can be a designer? We’ll talk to professor Paul Atkinson and the designers Yves Béhar, Martí Guixé and Joost Grootens about open design.

Design Matters! – Saturday 16 April

Green design, cradle to cradle and sustainability are gaining ground in the design world. Responsible design is quickly becoming a matter of course. But what about the other pressing issues 90 per cent of the world population is dealing with today? Real design for real needs is a matter of urgency. We’ll talk about designing for social change with guests including Premsela director Els van der Plas, Maria Teresa Leal of the design cooperative Coopa‐Roca, designer Jan Boelen, Cheick Diallo and Ilse Crawford (tbc).

Lectures at Savannah College of Art & Design

Savannah College of Art & Design
Georgia, USA
17th and 18th February, 2011

During February this year I went to Silicon Valley, California to carry out some research for my next book on the history of computers. On the way back, I stopped over in Georgia as I had been invited to give a couple of lectures at Savannah College of Art & Design.

I took a tour of the facilities of SCAD, which is really quite impressive, with the campus being spread over the whole city of Savannah and occupying some beautifully renovated historic buildings. The scale of the operation is something else – take a look at their website for more details.

On the evening of the 17th, I gave a public lecture about my work on Post Industrial Manufacturing, and on the afternoon of the 18th, I held a class for Masters design students about Professional vs Amateur Design. Both seemed to go down well, with a lot of questions coming from the audience.

My thanks go to all the staff and students, especially Tom Hardy, who made it all happen.

Amateur Interactions: The Impact of Post Industrial Manufacturing

Interactive Design International Symposium
China Central Academy of Fine Arts
Beijing, 23-24 November 2010

I was invited last week as a guest speaker at the Interactive Design International Symposium held at CAFA in Beijing. The symposium was based around Interactive Media Design, which on the face of it, might not be too relevant for the issues raised by Post Industrial Manufacturing. The point of the talk, though, was to show how the increase in amateur involvement in design enabled by new open source technologies is not only a good thing for design, but is also inevitable, so we might as well deal with it. Failure to engage with these technologies risks professional design becoming at least partially redundant. The issues raised, therefore, are relevant to all areas of design, not just three-dimensional design.

For more information, visit the Symposium website (largely in Chinese, but with some content in English)

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