We are very lucky to have an Institute of Making at UCL. I often walk past its impressive glass front, peer at the collection of things on shelves that can be seen inside, and wonder what on earth they are and what goes on in there. So I was delighted when a group of us from UCLDH were invited to visit and talk about things we have in common with the IoM, and what we might do together. We met the director, Mark Miodownik and Zoe Laughlin, the creative director, who told us about what the institute does. Oddly enough, it’s all about making things, but the kind of things people can make seem to be almost limitless. It’s not just about techie things such as 3D printing: members can indulge in anything that interests them, from farriery to knitting. It turns out that the enticing-looking things on shelves form the materials library: a collection of ‘some of the most extraordinary materials on earth’ as the IoM webpage puts it.
We talked about what kind of things we UCLDH people like to make. Simon was interested in the large, impressive-looking machines, but he was once an engineer. Julianne discussed digital narratives and how people understand spaces and materials both in physical and digital worlds. Claire Ross thought about how the use of the materials library might relate to her PhD work on museum spaces and digital interpretation. Steve talked about some of the cool things that CASA do in terms of making as well as digital, and we mused on future potential for various kinds of collaboration.
In general it was a fascinating visit. We didn’t actually make anything while we were there apart from an important intellectual connection, but I certainly came away with a much clearer sense of what goes on inside that intriguing space.