While we are here, we are working on all of our own product designs, not for clients but for ourselves, and also downstairs in the Tinkerspace and the exhibition, engaging with the public, using the 3D printers and so on - showing people how it all works.
So we are really interested in working through… looking at things in the collection that maybe…when you look at it, it's kind of weird and you’re like, 'wow, I don’t really know what you would have done with this', but then when you spend a lot of time looking at it and realise that it…that this object had a real social use; it made sense at the time, they were made for a certain purpose. And so we are interested in seeing how you can reflect the social character now, again, because it’s finally affordable to be able to create these special things. You can create small rounds of products for a niche, in a way. It doesn’t necessary just have to be one where you can do small production quite easily but where you can reflect the way of living that’s maybe quite unique to a place or a time.
I think for us what was interesting about the collection is the way it kind of captures this moment of a transition from hand-crafted one-off pieces to mass-manufactured things.
We are basically starting with a lot of mock-ups, a lot of model making, a lot of testing around the product that we are working on, which can include the laser-cutter, it can include the proto-type machines in the Tinkerspace, it can also include a hand-made approach. We do a lot of volume models made of paper for example, so it should be rather quick, quite hands-on proto-typing until we move onto the next stage which is a bit more refined and a bit more detailed.
We see it as part of our practice, in a sense…in the context of the museum, as Ian says, in the context of design and art and culture but also in our practice in getting in touch with people because there’s such a magnet – it’s amazing how many people actually are in here everyday. It’s such a good opportunity to just really test things – to ask people about stuff, about projects we do. And especially for a project that we are working on called ‘Make for London’, which is basically our way…in a way like a crowdsourcing project, where we ask Londoners, and people who are in London right now, about products, about their daily life, about things they might want to do, things that they might miss, things they really like a lot, and of which we might develop products or services or proposals.
In a place like London, or any big city, or even anywhere in the world because you can reach anyone on the internet now, but there’s enough of a market to support a small business if you want to make something that maybe only makes sense in London. And so, ‘Make for London’ is about getting the characters; it’s partly about innovation but it’s also as much about making ideas that are really personal to the city. What we do for ‘Make for London’ is collect those ideas and, like Martin said, we use them to generate little example projects like demonstrations, just to kind of make people aware actually of the possibilities that are out there. It’s not so much didactic but just to get them excited. It’s actually a super-exciting time. You can really do all these things, you can really reach everyone really easily, you can really quickly design stuff and then turn it into reality quite quick and that’s something that has a huge potential. And I think it’s something really exciting about the contemporary programmes here at the V&A, things like the Friday Lates and all these…there’s a real sense of openness that you can really keep something living – be really working on stuff that’s very contemporary and of the moment. It’s really like a big lab for us, almost like a research lab, and that opportunity’s really fantastic; it’s something we wouldn’t really be able to do on our own. But to be here in this museum surrounded by the history of manufacturing and making things and then to be able to engage with people about what that means today is really meaningful.
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