If you've ever wanted to put your own mark on the furniture you buy or dreamt of designing your own home and interiors from scratch - but don't know where to start - then the Design Museum's latest exhibition the Future is Here could provide some inspiring solutions.
The Design Museum have teamed up with the Technology Strategy Board for their new major exhibition The Future is Here: A New Industrial Revolution, which explores the sweeping changes in manufacturing that are transforming our world and the architecture and design industries.
The boundaries between designer, maker and consumer are rapidly disappearing in the "new industrial revolution" that features new technologies and ideas such as 3D-printing, open-source design, distributed manufacturing, recycling and a growing movement of ‘hacktivists’, who share and download digital designs online in order to customise them for new uses.
“The design industry is in a similar state that the music industry was in a decade ago," explains Alex Newson, curator of The Future is Here, about the sudden impact technology is having on design. "The music industry really struggled to catch up and work out a way to deal with technology advances and I think design has learnt from some of the mistakes made in these other industries.”
In a bid to show how the way we manufacture, fund, distribute and buy everything from shoes to houses is changing, the exhibition immerses visitors in production processes with live 3D-printing, a vinyl and laser cutter. The event also demonstrates the idea of home manufacturing where a design can be emailed anywhere in the world, downloaded and then constructed by anyone and there is often only a fee charged by the designer is the product has a commercial use.
Watch our video to see some of the highlights from the exhibition
The theme of democratic design and production is strong throughout the show and this idea of giving more power to the consumer lead to one of the exhibition’s highlights: a crowd-sourced sofa. The Design Museum and MADE.com invited the public to design a new compact sofa. Through social networking, more than 10,000 votes determined the most popular design. An orange, grey and blue-themed block sofa (pictured) has emerged as the the winning entry and is already in production. It's available to buy on MADE.com.
Open-source architecture is also on display. The WikiHouse project (wikihouse.cc) by 00:/ (architecture00.net) allows anyone to design, download and ‘print’ computer numerical control (CNC) milled houses and components which can be assembled with minimal skill, without the use of traditional bolts or screws.
And on the same theme, visitors to the exhibition can explore Open Desk (opendesk.cc) which allows anyone to download the designs and order a flatpack desk that is ready to assemble.
Other highlights from the exhibition include working robotic arms, novelty 3D-printed lemon squeezers that consumers can part-design themselves and biodegradable shoes. The Future is Here Factory, which is a small workshop dedicated to digital fabricating projects has technicians operating a small laser etcher or cutter and 3D printers.
“There is a huge amount that is missing from the exhibition. We’re not able to show everything as it is a very vast subject,” explains Newson. “We’ve created a website to go with the exhibition (future-is-here.com) which we are asking people to contribute to and point out the things to do with the subject that we might have missed.”
Throughout the exhibition there will also be a series of events and talks on new manufacturing methods. For more information visit designmuseum.org.