Pop-up makerspace (beta) at Helsinki Design Week 2018

 

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The first pop-up makerspace was built during the Helsinki Design Week with the title of Design with Movements Workshop  at Aalto Studios. Pop-up makerspace is  an umbrella project of the research that will combine Makething  projects as well as other programs  by  invited artists, designers and makers of relevant practices. It is an experimental makerspace that will be built in diverse settings and locations during this fall and possibly next year. The goal of this project is to reimagine the makerspace beyond status quo by testing and asking what making in the makerspace could be beyond the existing practices.

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This time, as an inaugural workshop, the theme of the makerspace was the kinetic movements in art and design perspective. During the 3 days of workshop, participants were introduced to different topics of movements: the first day was for storytelling, the second for drawing, the third for movements with soft material.

As it is in a beta-phase, the makerspace was only partly built with the Makerspace Building Block, particularly for the showcase of the research project.  The design of the tool will evolve and be transformed as the pop-up makerspace practice continues and deals with different activities.

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The workshop was open for the public but the main target was art and design students as it was held in the university campus. There were 6 participants, whose backgrounds were graduate-level students of design and media, visual artist and library educator.

The goal of the first day was to make a mechanical cartoon after being introduced to a set of simple mechanisms. Participants completed 4 different cartoons at the end. It was a good chance to see how art professionals and adult users with art and design background make with the LINKKI. During the 3 hour workshop where 70-80 minutes were given to the free building, I observed that participants fully focused on the mechanical prototyping and making a story out of it. The speed and skill level of the building mechanisms was not different from what I observed in the workshop for kids, however they were more skillful on developing stories as can be seen on the smiling face example.

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The second day was for making drawing machines. The outcomes were mainly the machines not different from what was introduced during the presentation. The lack of variety of outcomes was partly because there are not enough participants (There were 2). The difference from the previous workshop, however, was that the contents were well-organized showing different examples of drawing mechanisms. Just as the first day, introducing and practicing basic mechanisms together seems to help participant grasping the idea and building technique.

On the third day, the topic was designing movements with soft materials. The goal of the day was to make simple soft actuators with TPU-coated fabric and paper with folding/pleating techniques, as well as to ideate the future project out of this technique and material.   As it was the first time that I held an workshop with this topic and the participants have no prior knowledge on the softrobotics and its technology, it was not but a quite intro-level workshop. I observed that it took time until they got skilled at making an actuator with tools and materials such as fabric and irons. In the short workshop, rather than making an actuator from scratch with too much freedom, limiting the technique, material and design might work better in the future. Also, instead of making an actuator, if it is oriented to a specific creative goal, for example, making a plushy toy or pneumatic teddy bear, that would be also more interesting. In this case, how to actuate each or the whole unit should be explored in advance. Also, preparing enough tools such as heat sealer and irons will be important.

It was a meaningful event that gave me some insight about setting the direction of the future workshop and pop-up makerspace in the sense that: It was an intense workshops for 3 days and 3 hours with LINKKI for university-level art and design students and art/education professionals for the first time;  It was the first trial of pop-up makerspace built with Makerspace Building Block; It was a chance I open my research to the public.

In the fall 2018, I’m planning to hold the pop-up makerspace and workshops in different locations in collaboration with a school and libraries. I would update the research outcome in this blog again.

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