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Interview: Power of Making curator Daniel Charny

Power of Making was curated by product designer and lecturer Daniel Charny. BCA asked him a few questions following our visit to the exhibition.

BCA: Firstly congratulations on the exhibition. We went on a Wednesday afternoon and it was packed. We were curious to hear in your own words about what you feel links the pieces?

DC: Imaginative use of skills is the broad idea that links all the pieces in the exhibition.

BCA: Looking at the future of making and the potential for more production in the home, do you think we might witness the death of aesthetic trends in the coming years?

DC: If by ‘aesthetic trends’ you mean the dictatorship of looks by brands, then there is a very strong case for individual taste to grow in presence, although I think design will grow in value and people will be looking for designs and the aesthetics that come from talented individuals. It might just be that it is delivered through data rather then artefacts or through designed materials. If anything, there will be a strong aesthetic trend of designs and products that are open to change, exposed, accessible, to some degree raw (so that they can be adjusted, altered, changed, hacked, modified etc.)

BCA: What do you think will happen to mass production if people continue to make their own things?

DC: There will be an increase in mass production only it will happen accumulatively. Possibly this is the thing that that happened to the paperless office – a reverse of expectation – perhaps we will be seeing many more things produced and many more rejects?!

BCA: Do you think that the role of mass production is set to change?

DC: Yes, it looks like responsibility will shift to the user-makers, it could be said that we are already entering into the Production Revolution (a third counterpart to the industrial and technological revolutions) in terms of personal fabrication it could be significant though hard to imagine medicine being open to self production.

BCA: What is your view of 3D printers and its potential?

DC: 3D printers are amazing tools with potential to liberate personal adaptability and empower invention for people of all walks of life and accelerators for innovation that could be fed back into society for others to benefit. Though personal 3D printers are still very demanding, with the networks of knowledge and ambitious roadmaps (such as from MIT Bits and Atoms) it looks like the leaps and bounds in this area in recent years are just ripples in a big change.

Thank you Daniel!

Power of Making

Widow by Susie MacMurray

V&A and Crafts Council have collaborated on a fantastic new exhibition, Power of Making. Weaving our way around a jam-packed exhibition space, BCA was thrilled to see such a diverse collection of objects and machines, from craft to product design to new technologies, including our friend Adrian Bowyer’s RepRap.

The exhibition dismisses a traditional linear structure, preferring to place seemingly disparate objects side by side, rather than track the history of craft or neatly separate the different mediums. By placing unlikely objects next to each other, curator Daniel Charny is able to emphasise how techniques employed or even makers’ motivations can connect these different industries.

We were curious to hear what people had to say about this celebration of tinkering, so we asked a few visitors as they were leaving the exhibition.* Alan Simon, a Design and Technology teacher, told us that there is far too much emphasis on academic subjects at school and that the UK is not keeping up with Germany in terms of teaching design at a young age. Shareen Sange, a fashion student, felt that the exhibition pointed her to a range of inspiring new techniques.

The images are of some of our favourites, but go see for yourselves! Power of Making is at the V&A until 2nd January 2012

*in case you were wondering, um no, we didn’t stand outside the exhibition with clipboards.

Shine by Geoffrey Mann

Rotationalmouldedshoe by Marloes ten Bhomer

3D printing workshop

As the end of the school year approached and students were choosing GSCEs for next year, Rosedale College invited us to do a show-and-tell about what it’s like to be an architect and designer. We got the kids to design their dream school (swimming pools were a firm favourite – probably because it was sweltering outside), drew their designs in Google Sketchup, and created a scale model in our 3D printer. They were so intrigued by our piece of kit we could barely keep up with all their questions! Watch out for budding architects amongst this group.

Black Country Atelier 3d printing workshop RosdedaleShowing the students how to turn a 3d model into a physical one.

black country atelier 3d printing workshop RosdedaleThe winning design which we drew in sketchup and printed; classrooms surround a swimming pool and tunnels leading out to playing fields.

Production Line – The Film

Watch the full film here! Produced by BCA, in collaboration with Visitor Studio, the film features Blists Hill Iron Foundry, automated Lost Wax Casting and Dr Adrian Bowyer talking about the future of manufacturing at home.  Production Line is being projected onto an external stairwell of the Hayward Gallery as part of the Festival of Britain from now until September.

BCA at Vittoria Primary School

We just finished our workshop with Vittoria Primary school (part of Architects in Residence). We worked with kids aged seven to eleven, over the course of 4 Fridays, to make shapes and spaces out of milk bottles. The kids amazed us with what they came up with! Here are some pictures…

Black Country Atelier BCA Design Architecture Architects in Residence

BCA worked with students to design and make their own building blocks using recycled milk bottles

Black Country Atelier BCA  Design Architecture Architects in Residence 2The “castle” we built together

Black Country Atelier BCA Design Architecture Architects in Residence 3Other shapes the kids came up with: (above) a “person” shape and (below) “cross” shapes

Black Country Atelier BCA Design Architecture Architects in Residence 4

Watch out for the Architects in Residence/BCA exhibition in May 2011.

BCA goes to the USA !

Black Country Atelier is heading to the USA on a fact finding mission this summer.

From July 25th until August 10th, we’ll be travelling to New York, San Fracisco and LA to see all things workshop and design community related. We’re particularly excited about visiting Techshop in SF, and heading to Silicon Valley to see young entrepreneurs pitch for start up capital at the Founders Showcase.

We’ll be regularly updating the blog while we’re away so please sign up to the blog and you can share the road trip with us !