MakerLab Milan: 2012
Dimitris Stamatis)MakerLab Milan 2012 explores Openness, Participativeness, and Collaborativeness providing a space for local thinkers and doers to prototype answers to some of the current challenges cities have to deal with by involving the public.
The purpose of the MakerLab is of constructing temporary spaces to:
- Provide a format to meet and share in an effective and engaging way,
- Encourage dialogue and sharing of knowledge between people,
- Develop, prototype and reiterate collective answers to current challenges.
(Photo by Lea Kolling)
The framework we choose for Salone del Mobile is Public Design. With that we mean to design the public space, and since the public space is not just ours, we want to invite the general public to do it with us. This is not so easy, as designers we care about the concept generation, the prototyping and the iterations, aesthetics and materials, .. But if we want to engage the public we need to take care of the methods for engagement, facilitation of the process, points of interaction, …
During the Salone Del Mobile 2011, we set up various workshops (with tools, technicians and working benches) in various locations from Milan and invited the public to propose ideas. Our question was: How would you (as Citizen from Milan) like to have your public space improved? And with that we wanted to listen what they need, facilitate the implementation (by offering our skills) and multiply the effect of the actions (by involving a large number of citizens)
Even though we did build several proposals which were then placed for the citizens of milan to enjoy, we did realize that we missed to reach out non-designers and locals from Milan. Our designing stayed within the design world, made from designers with other designers for the public. We missed both to know what -Citizens- want and to multiply the effect of the action. Therefore, when we decided to come again to Milan we thought of the question:
“How to involve the public to multiply the effect of those actions that we want to implement?”
Design for public space in the public space: We want to create designs that have an impact in the public space. We want to democratize design so that it is accessible to all. Because design is not a method to make things expensive, it is a method to improve the things that humans interact with, to improve the way we live.
Engagement with locals: We want to design there where we are, with the people that will use the outcomes, and we want to do it for the community. By decentralizing the process of designing and making we share the cost among all, in this way making the design accessible to all.
Therefore we do not just look at the design of the -object- but we design the whole process and facilitate points of engagement for the general public.
Photos taken by Giulia Soldavini
We create a Google Calendar where people could follow what we were up to or suggest new activities. The calendar is public, if you want to check it out click on the link and go to April.
Residency @ Superground: 1st-15th April 2012 (Space provided by Artktichen)Giulia Soldavini)
We moved our office to Milan and invited up to 15 people to collaborate with us.
During the residency we want to get to know each other, propose possible interventions to implement. We had some reoccurring activities like Breakfast and open dinners for people to come together, and a process which would develop throughout the 2 weeks. The process is divided into Day:
- Get to know each other: Present Makerlab and Milan objectives. Each participant introduces itself. (More)
- Get to know our environment: Divided in groups go around exploring Milan. (More)
- Sharing insights & Plan of action: Workshop to share what we know about the city, our personal interest, and possible Interventions. Then do a plan of action and define who is doing what. (More)
- Ideation: Each groups develops the idea/concept that they want to work on. The groups were encouraged to think about What are their personal motivations and What would be the benefits for the society. (More)
- Ideation (Continues): Groups continue to develop the idea now more in detail, answering questions like : Where will it take place?, Who will use it?, What resources you need? (More)
- Reflection: Saturday we took it off from work and used the time to think about what were we trying to do. (More)
- Context immersion: Each group prepares a small presentation from the concept and presents to the other team and to the public. We meet at The Hub (Co-Working space in Milan) where we could get feedback from outsiders. (More)
- Prototyping: Now with the feedback from outsiders develop a first intervention were the concepts can be tested in the public space. (More)
- Prototyping (Continues): Continue prototyping and generating feedback for public iteration. (More)
- Wrap up: Close the space at the Superground and prepare for Public Action
Public Action @ Cascina Cuccagna: 17th-21st April 2012 (Collaboration with esterni)Alessandra Carosi)
For the public action we temporary re-appropriate the empty square outside of Cascina Cuccagna)
- Appropriate the Public Space: Get to know the new space and set our objectives. Design the space to suit our needs.
- Appropriate the Public Space: Build infrastructure for computer work and dialogue, workshop, public cinema, chilling area.
- Open to the public (Wednesday – Saturday): Now that we have the space ready for the action, we invite people to come and use our resources as participant in one of the workshops, to propose a workshop, to run it or simply to take part in a discussion about one of the topics that we are dealing with.
You can read more here
Through the past MakerLabs we have always try to create a space and dynamic that is totally open, flexible and evolving according to needs. We have also invite people to propose things spontaneously and tried to have as little pre-programmed schedule as possible.
This has work very well when working with people that are natural entrepreneurs and that need little directions to get engaged, or when the workshops were short and the level of required skills for participants basic, so that people could join spontaneously.
However we have missed to engage people which doesn’t have the talent for improvisation or develop projects (at the MakerLab) which require deeper level of engagement or more skills.
By creating a residency, we wanted to invite people in advance, so that we could get to know each other, find out which roles each one wants to take, and create workshops and activities with which people could engage in different ways.
We proposed this ways of engagement:
- Be part of the coordination team and contribute to the whole process,
- Co-Work at the Superground. Use our temporary co-working space at the superground or Cascina Cuccagna to work on your own projects.
- Submit insights. We will post what we are up to in our blog, and invite everybody to take part by sending us their feedback/comments via facebook, blog, twitter, flickr….
- Propose a workshop for the public intervention. We provide space and tools, you can bring a skills and share it.
- Come to the Superground and share dinner and reflection with us.
- Participate in the activities
It is clear that not everybody can engage in the same way, so we need to design different points of engagement for each participant that we want to interact with. We find that the follow are key aspects to take in consideration:
- Clarity of Goals: Design a process to set up goals that everybody identify with from the beginning.
- Be visual about process: Whatever the process or workshop that you are designing, communicate in a visual way that people can refer to.
- Distribute Task: Explain the key tasks that have to be implemented during a MakerLab, so that the work can be shared and people can help there where is needed.
- Provide space for Intention and Reflection: Share your goals in the morning and your learnings in the evening, so that each day you can build on what was done the previous day.
Projects undertaken during the MakerLab Milan 2012
The outcomes of a MakerLab are difficult to describe since what we do is born from the inspirations, skills and environment of that very moment, so rather than speculating with what will come out we like to give examples of what have happen. This MakerLab differ greatly from previous in that we were working together for a period of 3 weeks. Our aim was to come there open to see what would be created. During this time we had 3 main projects being developed in collaboration between all but also many other ideas that sparked from the needs that arose and were transformed into fiscal products and artifacts.
- Monobloc, Hacked chairs by Bert Loeschner
- Mini Cargo, Clip in Basket for bikes.
- Space design, Design and building of both Superground (Artkitchen)
- Yellow strings derived, We had a lot of yellow string, we had to do something with it.
- Egg bot /Maker bot (Ideas for ), Workshop form WeFab to decorate eggs and 3d print egg holders
- Moving Cinema, for the evenings, for spontaneous film evenings.
- Kitchen, we needed to eat.
The three main projects were instead of a spontaneous need, inspired by latent needs in Milan, the interest of the participants and the available resources we had.
A dinner in 3 acts; Sentire, Avvicinare, Unire:
Eating is an everyday action. The sameness in the way we live, separate us from the experience of this actions. Since we are not conscious about the act, this separateness obscure our capacity to experience and even make choices.
We propose a process to help our 12 guest experience the everyday act of eating, in a magnified way. The same food will be presented in 3 different environments revealing 3 ways of experiencing a meal.
MakerLab is about showing the processes and involving people in the making. For the Public Design Festival, we want to magnify the everyday act of eating. With this project we are not criticizing the behavior of our everyday life, neither categorizing good or wrong, but understanding through immersion in the process our capacity to know and to make a free choice. In this occasion we decided to choose Food and the way we experience it as our main focus, but we think this represents just one field in which making the process visible can help to wake up our consciousness. We strongly believe this experience could be applied to most of our everyday acts.
a cena in tre atti is a collaboration with Tavola Calda
Stelle del Quartiere:
Stelle del quartiere is aimed at telling the story of Cascina Cuccagna and its surroundings collecting the memories of its main characters: people living and working there. With this project we hope to start an archive of information about the quarter, to introduce the inhabitants of the quarter to each other, to make them think of the developments of the neighbourhood.
The collection of information will take place in three different ways.
- a mobile unit that will meet people in the street, in parks, associations, shops in the surrounding of the Cascina starting from Friday, the 6th of April. The “Stars of the Neighbourhood” will be portrayed, interviewed, then represented on playing cards that people will read, collect and exchange.
- a temporary photographic studio held at Cascina Cuccagna during the Public Design Festival. During the Festival we would like to involve also some engaged neighbors to talk with guests about their experiences (i.e. living libraries).
- an open archive where people is invited to share their old and recent pictures of the neighborhood, memories, thoughts, recipes, … : one digital in form of a blog and one analogue in form of a pinboard at Cascina Cuccagna.
Appropriation of Urban space:
We are appropriating the Via Cuccagna and customizing it to do public design, and we invite everybody interested to join us.
Through this action we want to:
- Open up the design process to all. And we (Designers) will play the role of facilitators to help the public express its creativity
- Create a temporary meet up place for creatives, researchers and activist, who want to share their knowledge.
- Built a workshop where the ideas transferred and discussed can become reality.
The Space has: A workshop with basic tools; A space for computer work (with wi-fi) and for discussions; A Public cinema (For documentaries, and film evenings); Chilling area (with hope for sun); Analogue, and editable by all, Timetable.
Workshops might be propose both by us and by the passers by.
Why to engage the public: In the web we have seen how numerous projects are quickly growing with relatively low budgets but creating high impacts. This is because the public grasps the possibility for engagement, and the quick and successful development of the -products-. By opening the process to the public we are able to multiply the pool of knowledge, and by finding topics that are of common interest, we engage them in the development multiplying the speed at which the outcomes are produced.
We also have to understand the many ways in which the public can get involved, not just as developer, but also giving feedback or even just getting inspired, and sparking another project. We learnt this at this last MakerLab, where it was the first time where two of the projects developed by us were presented at the public actions as experiences for passers by, and not as a workshop to take part in.
Why to do it in the public space: We are inspired by what is happening in the web, but also know that this kind of collaborative approaches were happening before the web existed. We believe that the public space is ultimately where people meet in the physical world. In this very space we can provoke the changes to the structures of our cities and the way we interact in them. Good examples are Urban gardens and FabLabs, so why not create laboratories where we can design and prototype solutions for social challenges?
We believe the appropriation of the public space is not so much about occupying it, but about re-shaping it to cover our needs from today.
Why use local resources: While importing skills, materials and cultures from other countries is a great inspiration, it also creates a dependency. We do not want to go to a new place to make the solutions for people that we do not know, in a place that we do not know with materials that they do not have. Rather we see that we can benefit others by sharing our skills, so that the locals can propose solutions for the challenges they face, with the resources they have available. In this way we spark solutions that will continue to evolve once we are gone.
Our Feeling: The email from Lucas Tarasco resume what we did and our feelings after this MakerLab:
It has been a deep experience.
Not only creative people, but beautiful people.
If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t ever walk the whole night throughout the city, never knew that having a twin sister would affect your blackberry internet connection, that Malta was actually a country and not only a sicilian beach.
I wouldn’t ever talk about vitality of languages with no vowels, never knew that you can play a guitar with a dead finger and definitely I will never look at plastic chairs in the same way anymore!
I wouldn’t ever knew that Saltapini sisters have taken their gorgeousness from the landscape they live in, that portuguese girls are so good in pretending to understand italian and korean girls not that precise as they look.
I wouldn’t ever knew that yellow strings were that versatile, that you can built a magical atmosphere with mere wood and screwdrivers.
And that giving dinner to 36 persons could be that satisfying.
Thank you all!
Goethe Institut Mailand (Cultural Partner)