Innovation Labs and Maker Spaces
June 2017. If you're following design and small business news you've heard the term "maker" long enough to be tired of it already. But makers and making and maker spaces are not a fad. They are a cultural emergence, the new revolution, the pendulum swing back from the mass consumerism and cubicle-induced anonymity wrought by the Industrial Revolution.
A maker space is a new kind of office, usually created by (if not just demanded by) Gen X and Millennials, to explore and collaborate in a way not possible in a traditional workplace. Maker spaces take advantage of under-utilized or distressed real estate in less-desirable parts town, are usually kitted out with new forms of desking and seating designed specifically for morphing uses, and are stocked with equipment that inspires new ideas and can build the outcomes. From pinball machines to distract and amuse while your meta-brain ruminates to powerful laser printers, 3D printers, wet rooms, and more, these spaces are on point.
Making and maker spaces is about a return to craftsmanship with a generous helping of entrepreneurship, topped by a new paradigm of community, all resulting from macro changes in our economy, the (in)ability of people to find long-term full-time jobs with traditional companies, and a desire for better quality of life, more autonomy, and a sense of purpose.
These spaces being together talent, energy, VC funding, and equipment, and are where innovation and the future of our economy will emerge.
In Los Angeles, look to La Kretz Innovation Campus here in DTLA – and home to LA Mayor Gil Garcetti's LA CleanTech Incubator.
More private spaces include MakerSpace DTLA and of course the now ubiquitous WeWork offices.
In NYC and its environs, look to Macro Sea New Lab in Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Lab boasts six 3D printers, including a Poly Jet and a Fused Deposition Modeling machine; a full CNC shop; large format vinyl and laser printers; wood and metal shops; casting and finishing machines; and an electronics lab.
And as an example of how design schools are responding, see The New School at Parsons. The School is a 28,000 sq foot lab with CNC mills, glass kilns, digital jacquard looms, and more, all intended to inspire and support student exploration and execution. The layout is flexible, encouraging impromptu collaboration – and also accommodates private space.
Also in NYC, MINI-backed A/D/O in Greenpoint, offering professional designers "access to state-of-the-art workspace, dedicated desks, fabrication lab, project storage and connection to a network of potential collaborators, mentors and production partners."