April 30, 2024

The Platforms member exchange as part of the Distributed Design Community Strategy

Part of the Platform’s annual activities is the Member Exchange program. This initiative serves as a funding mechanism to support Platform members in visiting each other at their respective organizational sites. The exchange program aims to facilitate the sharing of best practices, inviting members to host workshops or participate in each other’s activities, and exchange knowledge and experiences. Each year, members convene at the General Assembly (more information about the last GA in Barcelona can be found in this blog post) to discuss opportunities for the Member Exchange, as well as to brainstorm ideas for workshops and collaborations. In 2022 and early 2023, members participated in more than 15 European exchanges, documented in the 2023 edition’s blog post.  

Since May 2023 our members have been busy, not only with their exciting Platform activities but also with visiting each other! Join us in a little wrap-up that tries to capture some of the brilliant and vibrant ideas, opportunities, and projects that emerge from the member exchange. 

Kicking off with the re:publica festival in May 2023, Federica from Opendot, Vincent from Ars Longa, Blazka from MAO, and Sara from Pakhuis de Zwijger joined members from Fab Lab Barcelona to visit the member re:publica in Berlin. Not only is re:publica a valued member of our organization, but it also hosts the annual re:publica festival. This festival stands as one of Europe’s largest digital society gatherings, attracting a diverse range of participants from fields such as economics, politics, business, hacker culture, NGOs, media, marketing, as well as bloggers, activists, artists, and social media experts.

Pakhuis de Zwijger went to different workshops and talks about biohacking, circular product design, the future of food, and safe AI. The gathering about the future of our food system hosted by the Distributed Design team was a wake-up call for us as program makers.”

“The Design Fiction workshop organised by Fab Lab Barcelona, entitled Applying a future visioning tool to the nexus of Food & Distributed Design, was a great opportunity to pool our local experiences. These moments are always surprising in their ability to (re)discover the relationships, the similarities in situations and the opportunities for collaboration that naturally open up between Distributed Design Platform players.”

“The festival provides a vibrant environment for exploring the intersections of technology, design and society. Attendees engaged in discussions such as digital innovation, internet culture, online activism, and the impact of technology on various aspects of life. All of that knowledge was incredibly inspiring and useful for planning future Distributed Design Platform MAO activities, that should be in correspondence with the newest findings and methodologies.” 

Another hub for exchange this year was Vienna, Christina from P2P lab and Siri from Maker Copenhagen utilized the member’s exchange as an opportunity to visit Happy Lab.

“We discussed possible synergies in future projects as well as delved into specific initiatives that captured our interest,” Christina mentioned. “The exchange of ideas and collaborative brainstorming during this inter-member exchange laid the foundation for potential partnerships and innovative endeavors that align with our shared interests and aspirations, paving the way for exciting possibilities and joint future ventures,” she further explains.

For Maker, the exchange with Happy Lab Vienna was very beneficial on various levels. It served as inspiration, offering insights into their organization (residency management, workshop management, member management, organizational structure, and more). Lastly, it provided the opportunity to exchange knowledge, for example, on mold making, plastic recycling, and SLA 3D printing.

Lina and David (Fab Lab Budapest) visited MAO for the Crafting Futures Exhibtion. “The visit offered a fruitful exchange based on the exhibition Crafting Futures – which featured 10 works by Slovenian artists selected to design new products at the intersection of craft techniques and social approaches, especially in terms of their materiality in relation to ecological concerns” 

During the exchange, they also discussed how to support the intersection between design, research, and heritage to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange between traditional artisans and modern designers. David participated in the opening exhibition “Connecting Modern Design, Handicrafts, and Crafts” and conducted a connected activity shortly after at Center ROG about zero-waste Distributed Design.

Vincent and Adrien hosted Therese (DDC) and Joanna (Happylab Vienna) at Ars Longa, Paris. The tour, organized by Adrien, aimed to provide insight into Paris’s maker scene, with a particular focus on highlighting circular projects within the community. They had the opportunity to visit one of the most established and oldest Fab Labs in Paris: Woma. Additionally, the group visited Les Canaux, a testament to circular construction and sustainable architecture, as well as the Villette Makerz Makerspace. A highlight of the tour was the visit to  La Réserve des Arts.

“La Réserve des Arts facilitates the creation of art and design projects with a lower environmental impact. This initiative not only supports the circular economy but also encourages the creative community to incorporate sustainable practices into their work. The private tour we received from the founder provided valuable insight into the possibilities of a new way to distribute reused materials.”

Marielle from re:publica took the opportunity of the member exchange to visit Therese at the Danish Design Centre (DDC). Being both frontrunners of the digital transition and in common interest like the circular economy, this exchange offered the opportunity for the two organisations to brainstorm together about possible collaborations in the future. Therese toured Marielle at DDC, offering a unique insight into the organisations’ structure and facility.  

The collaboration between PolifactoryPolitecnico di Milano, Knowledge Center Vestmaneyer (Iceland), and Politecnico de Lisboa was further strengthened in the realms of circular and digital transition as well as the effects of climate change, particularly in coastal communities. Massimo (Polimi) visited Frosti at the local Fab Lab on Vestmaneyer to initiate an exchange of knowledge and explore potential collaborations in the educational and scientific domains including “Water microfiltration and measuring the biodiversity of systems” and “Emerging product-service system design for the transformation of local food chains”.

Fab Lab BeneficaPolitecnico de Lisboa (IPL) share common interests with Espacio Open and Fab Lab Budapest, particularly in the realm of 3D printing with clay. Andre (IPL) visited Karim at Espacio Open to discuss strategies for making 3D printing with clay more accessible. In return, Karim also visited Andre at the Politecnico de Lisboa, further elaborating on this emerging technology within the framework of distributed design. The interest in 3D printing with clay has garnered significant attention within the community and may feature prominently at the Distributed Design Conference in Vienna. IPL, Espacio Open, and Fab Lab Budapest are exploring collaboration on an exhibition design and workshop series for the conference.

Building on the European meet up of Fab Cities, the Fab City Foundation extended an invitation to the Platform coordinators from Barcelona, IAAC, to engage in discussions on distributed design and innovation learning methodologies. The meetup took place in Linz during the Ars Electronica Festival. Throughout the three-day event, members from the Fab City Foundation participated both in person and online, with the primary objective of connecting with the Fab Lab Barcelona team members to ignite inspiration and foster connections at the intersection of art, design and technology.

Finally, several of our members took advantage of the opportunity to extend their stay following the General Assembly in Barcelona, organizing additional meetings and visits to local manufacturing and creative spaces to brainstorm upcoming events and collaboration opportunities. The coordinator of Fab Lab Barcelona arranged a visit to various local maker spaces and creative hubs in Poblenou, Barcelona. During these visits, members engaged in exchanging best practices with another EU-funded project called mAkE, which focuses on fostering connections between European and African makerspaces to support a global innovation ecosystem. Additionally, members from Metalab, GIG, and Knowledge Center Vestmaneyer (KCV) collaborated with other members to plan study visits, visits to the Design Hub, and small design sprints to generate ideas for collaborative activities in 2024. 

Frosti from Knowledge Center Vestmaneyer (KCV) seized the opportunity to exchange ideas for collaboration and research, drawing inspiration from projects such as MINKE and Smart Citizen. These discussions centered around exploring how digital fabrication, distributed design, and other emergent technologies can contribute to economic growth while fostering environmental biodiversity conservation.

Overall the exchange program offers numerous benefits to our members. For example: Members have the opportunity to exchange ideas, experiences, and best practices with each other, fostering learning and growth within the community; Members can host workshops or participate in activities at each other’s sites, providing valuable learning opportunities and facilitating collaboration on various projects; The program facilitates the exchange of knowledge and expertise among members, enabling them to learn from each other’s experiences and perspectives; By meeting in person and discussing potential synergies, members can identify opportunities for collaboration on future projects, initiatives, and partnerships; and the program allows members to expand their professional networks and build relationships with peers from different organizations and regions.

We not only offer exchange programs for our members! Sign up through this form if you are a Creative Talent and would like to participate in the Creative Talent Mobility Scheme in 2024!