Stories about the New Industrial Revolution.
FAB10 – The Tenth International FabLab Conference and Annual Meeting: “From Fab Labs to Fab Cities” was held in Barcelona, Spain, 2-8 July 2014.
There were sponsors displaying their digital fabrication equipment such as CNCs and laser cutters and industrial players attending who were interested in how they can play a role in fab labs and maker culture. A cynic or critical eye might say many were interested in how they can exploit maker culture for private corporate gain, value capture and commodification. The Fab Foundation’s partnership with DARPA, for instance, which involved a war industry research lab not open to the public, was widely criticized yet never openly addressed in discussion with the network. Chevron’s sponsoring of school labs in the US was alternately praised and damned. (See Peter Troxler’s article in Issue 5 of the Journal of Peer Production, “Shared Machine Shops”, which was published the same year as FAB10.)
Bruce Sterling gave a keynote and cautioned labs there will be reactions to their ‘disruption’.
He and others noted concern that FabLab Izolab in Donetsk had been taken over by the Russian military.
FAB10, however, also saw actors interested in orienting to the potential of maker culture for more environmentally sustainable and socially good production patterns. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was instrumental in mainstreaming Circular Economy vocabulary in the network by hosting workshops and giving keynotes. The RSA’s (Royal Society of Arts) Great Recovery initiative put on workshops on design for disassembly, a hand’s-on takedown to learn about complex product manufacturing, materials and metals and their sourcing.
FAB10 fablabbers visited the Ateneu Ciutat Meridiana Fab Lab; the Barcelona ateneus were prototypes for a fab lab in every urban neighbourhood where residents could be creative and experiments could explore how to reuse, recycle and upcycle urban waste. In a grand final ceremony, the Barcelona mayor pressed the button for the Fab City Barcelona pledge, a countdown for cities to become at least 50% self-sufficient by 2054. This launched the Fab City initiative, which continues today in name and pomp while offering rather little as evidence of transformation.
Jonathan Minchin gave many tours of IaaC’s Valldaura Self-Sufficiency Lab, up in the Collserola hills. Fablabbers were so inspired by the Green Fab Lab and its environment that several people returned to the lab in later years to do projects or enrol in Fab Academy there. I also returned there for fieldwork after FAB10 ended and again in 2016.
Woelab from Lomé, Togo, won First Prize in the Fab Awards in FAB10 for their 3D printer made of e-waste.
Jens Dyvik presented his documentary about his world tour of fab labs, where he, for instance, met Barack Obama’s grandmother and presented her with a pair of open design shoes. The White House Maker Faire had been held just before FAB10, in June 2014.
Attendees participated in making fabbing workshops, workshops on management to help them run their labs, and interest group meetings such as education. Peter Troxler organized the Research Papers stream where I presented a paper for the first time.
The Fab Festival was held in the same venue during the weekend and was open to the general public, especially attracting families with young children. Many labbers travelled to Sitges to enjoy it as a pretty town and to visit Fran’s Beach Lab. Listening to Fran’s story, I was struck by people’s journeys and how they joined the fab lab movement. Since then I have heard many compelling tales of people wanting to try something new in their lives – something that would offer them creativity and autonomy.
Link to my FAB10 Flickr album