10 June 2010

Sustainability via IT

Speaker: Leonardo Bonnani, MIT Media Lab. The Tools and Tool-Makers of the Bazaar: New Paradigms in Computer-Aided Craft

‘Science doesn’t advance, it’s pushed and that’s what prototyping is to me,’…is how Leonardo Bonanni introduced his take on Prototyping. With a background in architecture, Leo has been teaching a course called ‘Future Craft’ at the MIT Media Lab for three years. The course is about about making product design sustainable – but not as we know it. We’re not just talking‘reusing materials’. He introduced us to alternative ways to be sustainable, mainly by making what you need, when you need it and sharing the specific knowledge and tools you need to do that task via computer aided solutions.

So why does something need to be made in the first place Leo outlined case studies of new products that can help people all around the world, like wheelchairs that can go up stairs and wearable computers for soldiers. He also shared some of the trends in sustainability that he’s seen over the last few years.

These include: Being Open – making your designs available to everyone regardless of the resources they have, using your own tools but also making them available for mass production and being Virtousic; finding ways to express the skills you’ve developed over years like a potter going digital so we can share their your knowledge.

Sustainability is clearly more than just a buzz word and it’s good to see it interpreted in new ways to what we're normally exposed to. Leo gave us all something to think about – especially when you think about people who are precious about their crafts. Some crafters/makers/designers/artists etc hate sharing their work or telling you how they do things but if we don’t open up and teach others, skills can be lost and in this sense sustainability is essential for the future of craft and other industries.

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