TechnoCRAFT: Hackers, Modders, Fabbers, Tweakers and Design in the Age of Individuality — Curated by Yves Béhar :: July 10 – October 3, 2010 :: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco, CA.
The history of craft and design began with individuals making what they could not afford to buy, which created a deep and personal connection between owner and object. With the Industrial Revolution, the tradition of craft mostly disappeared as people became enamored with the abundance and affordability of mass-produced, high-quality goods. The rise of mass-production and mass-consumerism undeniably elevated the average person’s quality of life. However, the cultural sameness that materialized, combined with the loss of individual connection to objects, left many feeling dissatisfied. As a result, they took matters into their own hands.
A resurgence of the individualization of what we consume is in the works today; it spans functions, ergonomics and appearance. The new “makers and craftsmen” range from the everyday person to the tech entrepreneur, from the young, curious designer to the multinational corporation focused on custom solutions. This new breed shares a sense of “making” and openness to collaboration while operating in a more individualized marketplace, which raises the question – Are we in the midst of a new age in manufacturing and mass-consumption on an individual scale?
TechnoCRAFT highlights the disappearance of the traditional boundary between the role of the designer and that of the consumer. In doing so, it traces the current movement in design away from fixed objects, toward open “design platforms” that invite people to participate in the creative process in a collaborative way. The exhibit focuses on the following six themes:
Crowdsourcing mines the collective talent of the community to develop new design solutions. From product generation to the voting process, crowdsourcing puts the decision-making power in the hands of the masses.
Platforms consist of designers creating open, software-based systems that provide the tools for individuals to create and/or customize their own unique products. From shoes to t-shirts to fantastic creatures, platforms make it easy for individuals of all skill levels to take on the role of designer.
Blueprints are ideas that are replicable, putting the power to create in the hands of the consumer. Rather than creating and selling a finished product, designers sell or give away the instructions so that anyone can create/recreate the design in their own way.
Hacks is a term that has moved far beyond the manipulation of computer software, extending into the public’s consciousness. Tables, iPhones and bikes are revised, modified and manipulated to achieve a new look or new functionality.
Incompletes are works that intentionally leave room for creativity on the part of the user. The degree to which the end user is involved varies with each design, but all depend on the role of the user to provide input for a design to properly function.
Modules are individual components that come together to create customized creations. Intelligently designed modules allow for the user to develop an outcome that is driven in equal parts by ingenuity and budget.
The works on display in TechnoCRAFT span the design spectrum from intentional collaborations between designer and user to outsider hacks, where “finished” products are adapted or modified. Special attention is given to products that embody the intersection of technology and craft that has enabled new and unprecedented levels of user participation which will have profound implications for the future of design and experience making.