Make Works – A platform to find local and sustainable manufacturers

Jessica Guy, Make Works HQ

Make Works is a global platform for local manufacturing that connects people who design with people who make. Launched in 2014 in Scotland, it has now become a tool for Distributed Design Partners. Its HQ is here in Barcelona, run by the team at Fab Lab Barcelona. Throughout Europe and beyond, Make Works has different regions including; Brighton to Barcelona, Birmingham and Budapest, where they are mapping manufacturers, factories, material suppliers and workshops.

Jamieson's Of Shetland, Photo: StudioRoRo

At Distributed Design, collaboration is a big part of what we do and part of what makes us special. We spoke to some of our members to discuss the impact of Make Works, and without exception, collaboration was a key theme throughout our chats.  

“Make Works is all about making, collaboration. The interactions between one human and another, interactions with processes and materials, and all these interactions and connected stories is what makes Make Works precious to me.”

This was one of the things that Jessica Guy, of Make Works HQ + Make Works Catalonia, finds most exciting about working with Make Works. But she was also excited by the potential this collaboration has to make a real difference in the move to a more circular approach to production cycles. This push for a circular economy within the production community is another big part of Make Works going forward – be sure to check out Make Works Scotland’s ‘Materialising Circularity’ event they are holding as part of this year’s Architecture Fringe to learn more!

Highland Stoneware, Photo: StudioRoRo

From Scotland to Sweden, the regions are all very different, each with its own approach to running Make Works. But collaboration remains key. In Paris for instance, Make Works, draws on the industrial heritage of the city and seeks to connect makers across various platforms such as Fab City Store, Fab City Hub and the Foodlab. 

Soumaya Nader, designer and project manager at Ars Longa, leading on Make Works Paris, explained, “We want to talk about the new manufacturers, their skills and the services they offer in the city. They will show us how an industrial tradition inspired their innovations in terms of management, tools and collaborations.”

Make Works Paris in Action; interviewing Vergers Urbains

In 2018, Paris  hosted the Fab City Summit, an event that brought together over 10,000 experts, professionals and citizens interested in circular economy, urban planning, digital fabrication, new business models, civic engagement and sustainable design and production. Make Works is a big family, and the collaboration it facilitates is truly global.

And last year, Make Works contributed to panel discussions at the FAB City Summit 2020 From Emergency to Resilience: ‘Crafting Fab Cities – an eco-systemic view of tools and methods’ and ‘Platforms – sharing tools, resources and knowledge’. This forum marked the beginning of Make Works’ ambition to start conversations with others to see how it can grow as an “open” global library for local manufacturing where anyone can recommend a manufacturer, or become a representative for their own region via adaptations and in response to local needs, agendas and ecosystems.

Alex Begg & Company, Photo: StudioRoRo

One of the challenges that designers and makers face, no matter where they are, is finding each other. This is where Make Works and the Distributed Design platform comes in. We are constantly adding new manufacturers to our global library. There are so many hidden gems in the manufacturing world and when you start digging, the results can be amazing. This was something that Réka Vikárius, DDMP Project Manager for Fab Lab Budapest (Make Works Budapest) discovered:

“Before we started to map the local workshops and manufacturers of Budapest I didn’t realize that there are so many creative hidden hubs with great potential waiting to be discovered. It is always inspiring to get to know your neighbourhood, the stories behind the people in it, to learn about their profession and support their small business.”

Flux Laser; Photo: Eoin Carey

Across the different regions of Make Works, there are hundreds of collaborations happening right now, and many more just waiting to happen. If you are a designer, artist, architect, maker or manufacturer, you can get involved today in making yours or someone else’s design a reality.

Learn more about Make Works.

Written by Kaye Symington