Tamara Alliot, MMTA
Its mission is to provide all makers with a creative home in which to innovate, contemplate and understand all aspects of materials and an inspiring place to explore their relationship to making.
The IOM3’s Sustainable Development Group, of which I am a Member, was recently invited to visit the Institute of Making at University College London (UCL). Mark Miodownik, who many of you will remember as the keynote speaker at the MMTA’s 2014 London Conference, welcomed us to the Institute with a look at the Materials Library, a growing repository of some of the most extraordinary materials on earth, gathered together for their ability to fire the imagination and advance conceptualisation. The walls are devoted to a myriad of materials, ranging from fish scales to tyres and ingots of metal. An added feature of the inspirational display is that visitors are encouraged to handle and closely examine the exhibits.
Image: Some of the exhibits in the Materials Library
From Pottery Wheels to 3D Printers
Alongside the Materials Library collection is the ‘Makespace’ – a workshop where both members of the Institute and guests can make, break, design and combine both advanced and traditional tools, techniques and materials. During the visit we saw traditional pottery wheels in action, quickly followed by 3D printing. The facility brings together equipment, expertise and perspectives of making from a wide range of disciplines, encouraging users to engage in craft, design, technology, history, philosophy, art and engineering.
The Institute of Making is a multi-disciplinary research club for those interested in the made world. Membership of and day-to-day access to the Institute is unfortunately only available to UCL staff and students. Luckily there is an active public programme of symposia, masterclasses, and open days exploring the links between academic research and hands-on experience, and celebrating the sheer joy of ‘stuff’, so we can all benefit from the Institute’s activities.
Upcoming events can be found here: http://www.instituteofmaking.org.uk/events
Further Reading: Stuff Matters, The Strange Stories of the Marvellous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World, Miodownik, Mark, Penguin Books, 2013