The Future is Here: A New Industrial Revolution, a major new exhibition at the Design Museum, will explore the sweeping changes in manufacturing that are transforming our world.
New manufacturing techniques will involve the users of products as never before, revolutionising the role of the consumer. How we manufacture, fund, distribute, and buy everything from cars to shoes is progressing fast. The Future is Here shows what that means for all of us.
The boundaries between designer, maker and consumer are disappearing with a growing movement of 'hacktivists,' who share and download digital designs online in order to customize them for new uses.
"200 years ago what happened in Lancashire's cotton mills and Cornwall's tin mines changed the world," commented Deyan Sudjic, Director, Design Museum. "Now it's the turn of Silicon Roundabout and the hacktivists."
In a highly experimental move the museum will house the first 'Factory' of its kind where visitors can discover how 3D printing works and witness live production.
The exhibition looks at what exactly drives innovation and how it can lead to increased productivity and economic growth. A visit will reveal how the new industrial revolution has the potential to affect everyone, radically altering our attitudes to the pace of change driven by new technology. For example, open access means that it is now possible for anyone with an internet connection to download the digital files that could be used to print a gun at home.
"Will changes in traditional manufacturing cause a reversal of the traditional manufacturing powerbases? Small-scale makers and sellers have typically produced the type of objects that factories don't," stated Alex Newson, Curator, Design Museum. "But what if small companies, or even individuals, began making objects that were previously only viable, either technologically or economically, through mass-manufacture?"
Mass customisation is a central story: from trainer manufacturers offering personalised shoes on a global scale, to 3D printed dolls with features that consumers can design and order online. A carbon loom invented by Lexus to weave car parts such as steering wheels and dashboards from strong carbon fibre is represented, and other exhibits include an open-source approach to architecture, the WikiHouse.
Emerging technologies and platforms such as crowd funding, social networking digital looms, online marketplaces, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotech, networked manufacturing, CNC routing and open-source micro computing, are all removing the barriers of access to manufacturing. It is the role of designers and the design process to participate in exciting new technologies, so that more people than ever before can take part in the production of our physical world.
The Future is Here presents today's emerging technologies that will become the growth sectors of tomorrow.
Photos courtesy of Design Museum