The Influence of the Maker Culture on Design and Entrepreneurship

July 18, 2013

“American Industrial Design improved America functionally, culturally, and intellectually…and exported it around the globe.”

The video below explains how American Industrial Design began and how it helped the economy after the depression by giving hope of progress to the U.S. population. America found positivity in industrial design and society spent money simply because of the beautiful designs. With new materials and processes, objects could look sleek and desirable even if they did not serve a purpose. Style became equally important as function. The people who were behind these objects became famous and some household names were created.

In today’s world, with new processes such as 3D printing becoming less of science fiction and more mainstream conversation, is this a similar time for the U.S. consumers and the economy? In many ways it may be the beginning of a “revolution”. However, with so many beautiful objects already polluting the shelves of every store we enter it cannot be the same type of change and it cannot be based on the physical object. The desire will shift from the obsession to own an object to the obsession to create an object.

MakerBot 3D Printers

MakerBot 3D Printers (photo from; taken by Jacqui Cheng)

With the new maker space at the Chicago Public Library, as well as places such as Pumping Station One, access to this new technology is getting even easier. My aunt (who seems to have a new idea every year at our family picnic) now has the power to create her own product and/or brand and introduce millions of people to it via crowdfunding or social media sites. With this much more obtainable level of entrepreneurship available this demographic will begin to produce more goods and outgrow the 3D printing model. They will instead look for a manufacturer, which gives more opportunities for the small scale “local” manufacturer to survive and grow in the US.

I have been involved with the maker culture for a while now and continue to be fascinated by the skills and knowledge I gain from it and from those who are involved in it. I have an appreciation for problem-solving and well-crafted solutions and am excited to see that just about anyone, of any age, is able to bring their product ideas to life with a little help. It will be interesting to see how this changes design in the months and years to come and how people react to and take advantage of this readily-available technology.

Written by: Trevis Kurz, Industrial Designer, Beyond Design

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