This summer, the Design Museum in London will be offering a glimpse into the future of fabrication and manufacturing with The Future Is Here: A New Industrial Revolution, a major new exhibition about the sweeping changes in manufacturing that are transforming our world.
The exhibition, which opens July 24, is a collaboration between the Design Museum and the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board. Exhibition design is done by dRMM and exhibition graphics by LucienneRoberts+.
New manufacturing techniques will involve the users of products as never before, revolutionizing 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 customize 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 customization is a central story: from sneaker manufacturers offering personalized 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 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.
The Future is Here presents today's emerging technologies that will become the growth sectors of tomorrow.
Here are some exhibition highlights:
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 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, voice chips, 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’.
Deyan Sudjic, Director, Design Museum: "200 years ago what happened in Lancashire’s cotton mills and Cornwall’s tin mines changed the world. Now it’s the turn of Silicon Roundabout and the hacktivists."
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "The latest Design Museum exhibition shows how manufacturing and the relationship between designer and customer could change in a very short space of time. Our city's future prosperity depends on the ability to stay at the forefront of innovation."
Alex Newson, Curator, Design Museum: "Will changes in traditional manufacturing cause a reversal of the traditional manufacturing power bases? Small-scale makers and sellers have typically produced the type of objects that factories don’t. But what if small companies, or even individuals, began making objects that were previously only viable, either technologically or economically, through mass-manufacture?"
The exhibition is scheduled to run from July 24 through October 29. Get the latest updates on Twitter via #FUTUREISHERE.