A "Fab Lab" In Every Home--Are We Returning To A Democratic Age of Craft And Creativity?

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on March 20, 2007

Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams who wrote the hot book http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/mar2007/id20070320_687998.htm?chan=innovation_innovation+%2B+design_wikinomicsWikinomics are doing a series of essays for our Innovation & Design site and the latest column is all about mass collaboration in design and manufacturing. Turns out that most of the motorcycle industry in China involves a collaborative effort by suppliers. Turns out the most of Boeing’s new 787 jetline is done by peer production or mass collaboration.

On a small scale, MIT has developed a small-scale “fab lab” that has just about any tool to make just about anything. A fab lab in every home is my motto. We already design our music and telephony experiences with “tools” provided by Apple, cell phone, pda and telephone carries. With fab labs, we could start making the stuff we design. Talk about a revolution in creativity and individuality.

We may be on the verge of one of the most creative periods in history. In a way, it is a return to craft. When tools and clothes and houses were all designed and made singly and individually, they were uniquely special. Mass production and the industrial age ended much of that.

Now, thanks to web 2.0 and other technologies such as fab labs, we may be returning to an era of craft as we begin to do our own designing and manufacturing again. Companies who provide us with the tools to create and participate WITH us in making them are going to make a lot of dough in the future.

Reader Comments

RD (Parsons)

March 21, 2007 3:32 AM

speaking of MIT.. I am up here on campus right now, at the media lab.. I will have to seek out this 'fab lab' before i leave in a few days.


I wrote an article on how mass production devalues those things that we find value in, when hand crafted:


http://gumpdesign.blogspot.com/2006/12/how-clever-three-ingenious-designs.html

-RD

RD (Parsons)

March 21, 2007 3:33 AM

speaking of MIT.. I am up here on campus right now, at the media lab.. I will have to seek out this 'fab lab' before i leave in a few days.


I wrote an article on how mass production devalues those things that we find value in, when hand crafted:


http://gumpdesign.blogspot.com/2006/12/how-clever-three-ingenious-designs.html

-RD

Dan Lewis

March 21, 2007 2:15 PM

"Now, thanks to web 2.0 and other technologies such as fab labs, we may be returning to an era of craft as we begin to do our own designing and manufacturing again." Exactly when do you think "we", ever did this?

BB

March 21, 2007 9:39 PM

Great topic, especially when you add commerce to the mix. Craft + Creativity + Commerce

Like this: http://www.etsy.com/

Chris Arnold

March 21, 2007 11:56 PM

I and a colleague have co-written a paper and presented on just this notion ["Micro-Mass-Production: The Creative Revolution" IDSA Education Conference, 2005]. As mass-mechanization changed the world during the first Industrial Revolution, we're are seeing signs of what may be offered in the next. This time can turn out very differently if the designers (and the masses) take control of the tool.

Craft and rights of customization might once again be returned to the hands of designers and artisans [which "we" did prior to the Industrial Revolution]. Design and production for regionally specific design preferences may become economically viable, and the relationship between makers and users will be more closely linked. Emerging models of business will flourish along with new modes of fabrication and distribution.

It's not about a fab machine in every kitchen, but a micro-brewery for every community.

csven

March 26, 2007 6:21 PM

Back in 2000 I gave a presentation to this effect. In it I said:

"Manufacturing processes have limited shape, texture, and materials. However, as processes become more capable and complex, products will increasingly become more sculptural and craftlike… [where form is] driven by “Branding”."

I follow all these things, and have discussed the next thing beyond this development. For some of that and how this quote fits in: http://blog.rebang.com/?p=1017 .

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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