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The Future is Here at Design Museum

Design Museum London is collaborating with the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, in an exhibition 24 July 2013 – 29 October 2013 about the sweeping changes in manufacturing that are transforming our world.

Formlabs 3d printer
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Formlabs 3d printer

New manufacturing techniques will involve the users of products as never before, revolutionising the role of the consumer. How we manufacture, fund, distribute, and buy everything from cars to shoes is progressing fast. The Future is Here shows what that means for all of us.

The boundaries between designer, maker and consumer are disappearing with a growing movement of ‘hacktivists’ who share and download digital designs online in order to customise them for new uses.

In a highly experimental move the museum will house the first ‘Factory’ of its kind where visitors can discover how 3D printing works and witness live production.

The exhibition looks at what exactly drives innovation and how it can lead to increased productivity and economic growth. A visit will reveal how the new industrial revolution has the potential to affect everyone, radically altering our attitudes to the pace of change driven by new technology.

Mass customisation is a central story: from trainer manufacturers offering personalised shoes on a global scale, to 3D printed dolls with features that consumers can design and order online. A carbon loom invented by Lexus to weave car parts such as steering wheels and dashboards from strong carbon fibre is represented, and other exhibits include an open-source approach to architecture, the WikiHouse.

Emerging technologies and platforms such as crowd funding, social networking digital looms, online marketplaces, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotech, networked manufacturing, CNC [computer numerical controlled] routing and open-source micro computing, are all removing the barriers of access to manufacturing. It is the role of designers and the design process to participate in exciting new technologies, so that more people than ever before can take part in the production of our physical world.

Exhibition highlights include:
The Future is Here Factory: a small workshop area dedicated to digital fabricating projects, where technicians will be operating a small laser etcher or cutter and 3D printers. They will be producing various objects and projects for exhibition visitors to pick up and assemble. The Factory will also have a gallery area to display a range of products made during the weeks the exhibition is open. The Future is Here Factory is set to run a series of special events – regularly inviting established and emerging designers to spend a day using the Factory to work on new projects with the public.

Makiedolls: action dolls designed by the consumer, who chooses the eyes, nose, jaw, smile, the hair, the clothes and the hands and feet. The dolls are 3D printed give a porcelain effect in a London lab, then posted in a cardboard tube. The inside is designed with space for owners to experiment with fitting LEDs, RFIDs and battery packs, voicechips, Bluetooth and Arduino. There is room in the neck for wires and in the back cavity for batteries. Hacking the design is encouraged by the manufacturer so that variations can be shared with other fans.

Crowd-sourced sofa: Design Museum and MADE.com invited the public to design and vote for a new piece of furniture. The most popular piece, chosen through the use of crowdsourcing/ peer-production and social networks, will go into production, be sold on the MADE.com website and feature in the exhibition. An experiment in a democratic approach to design.

Micro community manufacturing: Assemble and Join, funded by Lambeth Council, runs community workshops that re-imagine the role of the high street. Local residents, school children, shopkeepers, market traders and community groups have chance to collectively imagine, design and build changes to the public space to better suit their needs, as well as those of the community as a whole.

Biodegradable shoes: the process of manufacturing Puma shoes made from materials that are durable yet compostable, breaking down into their original building blocks, showing what is possible if we apply the same high-tech approach used in manufacturing to ‘unmaking’ and ‘remaking’.

Personalised trainers: The mi adidas range allows consumers to use a simple online application to customise their shoes before they make a purchase, empowering the consumer and giving them freedom to create something completely unique and personal. The display features the full range of components available to construct a personal version of the Superstar II trainer and Nitrocharge football boot.

The Future is Here online space: where you can explore more content and share ideas on where the future is going through film, image and articles. From 3D printing to hacking at home, stay in touch and get involved with this rapidly transforming revolution wherever you are.

Author: Editor

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