These DIY methods disrupt the traditional triangular relationship between the designer, the manufacture and the consumer – because now you can be all three.
An interesting, provocative review of the Furniture Fair (Salone) in Milan from The Guardian’s Justin McGuirk. In From Handicraft To Digicraft, Milan’s Furniture Fair Looks To The Future, he looks at the influx of DIY types wielding Makerbots and Arduino-fueled products galore. Or, as he puts it, rather more eloquently: “All over Milan, this tension between mass production and self-production, between handicraft and digicraft, was to the fore.”
I confess I stumbled slightly over his later assertion that hackers have traditionally been “outlaws”. Maybe I’m wrong, but I always thought of the original hackers (the Woz types and those attending the Homebrew Computer Club back in the day) as those who were willing to share just about everything and “hacked” purely for the joy of learning and understanding… very much in line with the spirit of these present day hackers. It was only in the interim that a more nefarious splinter group of hackers arose, with less idealistic goals at their heart. Anyway, I digress. The killer point of McGuirk’s review comes at the end and any would-be innovators would be wise to pay attention:
This was not a particularly strong year for innovative products, with many companies playing it safe or re-upholstering old classics. So let’s just accept that there was a more compelling story to tell. This groundswell of participative design, rapid manufacturing techniques and hacking is starting to challenge Milan’s design orthodoxy, making us forget about products and think about processes. Because the furniture fairs of the not-too-distant future will be for exhibiting new services and technologies, not just objects.
Now that’ll be a furniture fair worth attending.