London’s Design Museum has collaborated with the UK's innovation agency, Technology Strategy Board, to deliver a major new exhibition, The Future is Here, about the sweeping changes in manufacturing that are transforming the world.
“The latest Design Museum exhibition shows how manufacturing and the relationship between designer and customer could change in a very short space of time,” said London Mayor Boris Johnson. “Our city's future prosperity depends on the ability to stay at the forefront of innovation. With the most creative designers based here and a burgeoning technology sector, London is well-placed to maximize the potential of links between design and technology, which will become increasingly important as we compete on the global stage.”
The exhibition explores the idea that the boundaries between designer, maker and consumer are disappearing with a growing movement of ‘hacktivists” who share and download digital designs online in order to customize them for new uses.
The exhibition also looks at what exactly drives innovation and how it can lead to increased productivity and economic growth. A visit will reveal how the new industrial revolution has the potential to affect everyone, radically altering people’s attitudes to the pace of change driven by new technology.
Mass customization is a central story—from trainer manufacturers offering personalized shoes on a global scale, to 3D printed dolls with features that consumers can design and order online. A carbon loom invented by Lexus to weave car parts such as steering wheels and dashboards from strong carbon fibers is represented, and other exhibits include an open-source approach to architecture, the WikiHouse.
In a highly experimental move, the museum will house the first ‘Factory’ of its kind, where visitors can discover how 3D printing works and witness live production.
Another highlight includes a crowd-sourced sofa. In collaboration with MADE.com, the Design Museum invited the public to design and vote for a new piece of furniture. The most popular piece, chosen through the use of crowdsourcing/peer-production and social networks, will go into production, be sold on the MADE.com website and be featured in the exhibition. An experiment in a democratic approach to design.
Emerging technologies and platforms such as crowd funding, social networking digital looms, online marketplaces, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotech, networked manufacturing, CNC [computer numerical controlled] routing and open-source micro computing, are all removing the barriers of access to manufacturing. It is the role of designers and the design process to participate in exciting new technologies, so that more people than ever before can take part in the production of the physical world.
The exhibition will be on view from July 24 through November 3 at the Design Museum London, with a press preview on Tuesday, July 23.