Not sure why they need the olde english “e” on the end of “faire”, and I was not excited to trek out to Queens on a beautiful Saturday, but I did to visit the Maker Faire, yesterday.
Walking around I realized two things 1) I probably would have loved this as a kid instead I built model rockets, blew things up in the driveway, made mud pies, dammed up streams, and built forts in the woods, and 2) so much of what is on display at the Maker Fair are the tools of my trade, CAD, 3D printing and CNC fabrication, reworked almost as entertainment!
I was there at the invite of my friends at Shopbot who put on a great show with Opendesk, an open-source design website from the UK. They were making a statement about local fabrication by producing on demand a few preselected stool designs. After stools were purchased, they were cut, and carried home in board form, like model parts, that could easily be assembled at home.
Around the corner I was very impressed with atFAB, who design beautiful slat furniture and utilize a network of Shopbot shops to produce their designs locally for customers. Its a very cool business model. They were the only display I saw that employ design in a professional sense, and honestly it shows in their beautiful work.
The automated Gamelatron was also beautiful, both visually and sonically. Described as “a marriage of Indonesian sonic and ritual tradition with modern robotics,” all the tech-hippies were laying about on rugs taking in the mesmerizing sounds. It actually felt sort of wrong to take pictures.
And who can resist a digital pancake maker?!
But my favorite part of the Faire was the 51 year old centerpiece – the Wallace K Harrison designed Great Hall – originally built as part of the 1964 Worlds Fair (see, no “e” necessary). It’s as old as me and a cool piece of NYC architecture. Probably the best Harrison building I have ever experienced. The inside glows blue as sunlght is filtered through cobalt glass chunks embedded in the concrete walls. The interactive digital displays inside were a distant second to to Harrison’s walls.
So all in all, I enjoyed the Faire. It was thought-provoking. I wish I had caught my friend, the 3D printing pioneer, Carla Diana, who spoke (I found out later), and I am sure I missed quite a few things. I did not explore much inside the Museum. I love all of the potential and the promise, and it was worth the trip, if only to experience this brave new world of digital making, and hacking, and rethinking. The only thing it lacks, for me, is Design.