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The Industrial Revolution changed the world immeasurably. Arguably, we are now living through a second one, one driven by the emergence of the internet and rapid technological change.
One sphere where this is keenly felt is in British design and manufacturing. While many bemoan the 'death' of the UK's manufacturing industry, a new exhibition in London seeks to place the products and disciplines behind the sector right at the forefront of technological change.
In relatively recent times, the emergence of the internet, social media, a sense of collectivism, and what we might call a return to 'making things', has led to big changes in the way people design, make and use objects.
Today, the Design Museum in London opens its new exhibition, The Future Is Here: A New Industrial Revolution, which looks at how a host of products, tools and ideas – 3D printing, additive manufacturing, open-source architecture – are working to transform our world.
This event, a collaboration between the Design Museum and innovation agency the Technology Strategy Board, looks at the vast changes that have taken place in British manufacturing, charting its development from the time of the cotton mills in Lancashire to the new hubbub of London's Silicon Roundabout.
It suggests that a number of sweeping changes are working to transform the world, in turn making manufacturers consumers, consumers manufacturers.
Exhibition highlights include:
The Future is Here Factory
At the heart of the exhibition is a small workshop area dedicated to digital fabricating projects, where technicians will be operating a small laser etcher and 3D printers.
This crowd-sourced sofa is the result of an initiative by the Design Museum and MADE.com to ask the public design and vote for a new piece of furniture. The sofa will go into production and be sold on MADE.com site. "An experiment in democratic design," says the Design Museum.
How to make a pair of Puma shoes from compostable materials? Head to this event to find out.
"Will changes in traditional manufacturing cause a reversal of the traditional manufacturing powerbases?" said Alex Newson, Design Museum curator.
"Small-scale makers and sellers have typically produced the type of objects that factories don’t. But what if small companies, or even individuals, began making objects that were previously only viable, either technologically or economically, through mass-manufacture?"
Cass Art is delighted to support creative activities at the Design Museum.