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The Bulletin

The Maker Movement gains momentum at Milan's Design Week

Posting in Architecture

Is the Maker Movement -- the spirited culture of scrappy, do-it-yourself product design -- now grabbing the attention of design world influencers?

If you consider the presence of the Maker Faire, the grand daddy of all Maker Movement events, at Milan's Salone Internazionale del Mobile, yes.

The Salone, which opened today at Milan's fairgrounds and runs through April 14, is a vital design-world trade show. It's where global design trends in the home furnishings industry (and beyond, quite frankly) are established for the year to come. Many manufacturers and designers reveal their new products and prototypes at the Salone and its satellite fairs and exhibitions around Milan during this week.

Last year, more than 290,000 people attended, observing design offerings in convention booths and gallery-style shows. This year, at a display called "We Make Open Design" at Via Vigevano 35, anyone attending can play designer by engaging in hands-on workshops on how to create interactive or smart objects using Arduino open-source hardware. It's one of the more high-profile Maker Movement initiatives to surface in recent years during Milan's Design Week, as the duration of the Salone is popularly known.

"In the last couple of years some events related to the makers’ culture have started to pop-up during the Salone and we have something coming up too," Zoe Romano of Arduino wrote on the Arduino blog on April 8, referring to the Maker events at Via Vigevano. Fablab Torino, a digital fabrication initiative dedicated to open-source culture, and Maker Faire Rome, the first European edition of the Maker Faire, are also sponsoring the "We Make Open Design" show. There will also be events around Milan hosted by this triumvirate of DIY organizations.

As we've reported, big brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Samsung, and DuPont are usually expected to participate, along with hip design firms such as Studio Dror (some examples from the 2012 edition). But the Maker Faire events this year might turn the spotlight around by encouraging attendees to design along with the professionals.

Image: Open Mirror, a Maker project by DigitalHabits.it, on view at Via Vigevano, Milan. Courtesy Maker Faire Rome

— By on April 9, 2013, 7:56 AM PST

Reena Jana

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Reena Jana has written for the New York Times, Wired, Harvard Business Review online, Fast Company, Architectural Record, Artforum, Time Out New York, Harper's Bazaar, and GQ. Previously, she was the innovation department editor at BusinessWeek. She holds degrees from Columbia University and Barnard College. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure