The combination of new technologies and manual skills, handed down from generation to generation, is proving fertile ground for both process and product innovation. The tools available to digital craftsmen allow them to experiment not just with new looks and modes of expression but also with new collaborative practices between designers and the people who will actually use their products.
This combination, which is put to the test in Fab Labs, or the new open source design platforms, takes the personalisation of furniture, furnishings and accessories to a whole new level in the evolutionary scale, enabling anybody to play a direct part in building their own domestic environment.
Looking forward at the development of what is currently a technology at the embryo stage – 3D printing – it is not hard to imagine a near future in which its diffusion could transform the home itself into a place capable of producing its own “components”.
Opendesk is an English platform based in the London district of Hackney, which makes designs for chairs, tables/desks and shelving available online; these can then be produced locally in any part of the world. People can have paid access to the designers’ files, download them and have their own piece of furniture created by the maker or Fab Lab on duty, using locally available materials.