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Story of Make Works

Make Works was founded by Fi Scott whilst studying Product Design at Glasgow School of Art. The idea developed working in a wood, cork and furniture workshop in Brooklyn, NY with Daniel Michalik. Here, she realised the value, power and importance of making.



Returning to Scotland, Fi was frustrated with not being able to find the practical means of getting things made. She scraped the internet, finding outdated manufacturing websites and a web of confusing engineering and industry jargon.

Before long she had taken to spending her afternoons walking around industrial estates on the outskirts of Glasgow, mapping the companies that still existed there.

Make Works was researched and tested as a design proposal in Fi's final year at art school, which meant that Fi tumbled out of her degree show with a plan to get going.

When she graduated, she worked from a borrowed desk in MAKLab, Glasgow for six months - figuring out how to get the idea off the ground. 

After six months of filling out public funding applications (and being knocked back from each and every one), working from a borrowed desk in MAKLab and figuring out how to get the idea off the ground - Fi decided to get on the road and prove that industry in Scotland really did still exist.

She called up Ben Dawson, a furniture maker she had worked for in high school, and asked if she could borrow his VW camper van. She then asked designer Vana Coleman and photographer Ross Fraser Mclean to join her on the road. 

From that point an expedition began, visiting and mapping makers and manufacturers across Scotland. The team travelled over 3000 miles from the tip of Shetland down to The Scottish Borders over 3 months. MakeWorks Tour from Make Works on Vimeo.

Eight artists and designers in residence were invited to join for one week at a time on the road. The residency programme was funded by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

The #makeworkstour then received project funding from Creative Scotland.  

Working from Codebase, Edinburgh, Make Works collaborated with software developers, SEO experts and the Edinburgh Film Company to collate our information, build databases, edit films and build the first version of the Make Works platform.

They designed, tested and built our prototype and launched in June 2014. 

The team quickly started to see the first few enquiries coming through; connecting designers and artists to local fabricators and manufacturers. The platform was working! 

Make Works pitched, and joined tech accelerator programme, Seedcamp in August 2014.

Operations manager, Lottie Burnley, joined the team in October as our first full time employee - and Fi and her team got to work developing how we would build up the number of factories listed on the site. They were also invited to share the concept Make Works in countries like the USA, Russia, South Africa, Poland, England and France.

2015 was about continuing to improve the platform, discovering what they were really about, and as ever, finding more factories!

FI and her team had the chance to run residency programmes with Hospitalfield, embedding designers and artists in manufacturing spaces. They've run Pecha Kucha nights, Maker Speed Daters, film screenings and the manufacturing Christmas Quiz.

In June they left the Seedcamp accellerator, as the team realised they were a non-proft through and through (more interested in making open access web tools, rather than Scotland's next billion dollar start up company.)

In October, Fi and her team worked with Open Work, experimenting with new ways of using and browsing the Make Works dataset.

They also started working on making ourselves self sustaining as a non profit, developing alternative revenue streams that can support our core work.

In March 2016 Fi and her team opened up the Make Works platform so that people in other parts of the UK (and further afield) could start their own open-access local manufacturing directories. New regions can now use and build on our work, by being able to access our software, resources, and come on training and workshops built from our experiences and learning so far.

Make Works Birmingham launched in March 2016.

2017 has been a tough year in terms of grants and fundraising. The team of Make Works launched both a donations and a Patreon page as an alternative way to support the work. MW Patreon Film from Make Works on Vimeo.

New Make Works regions launched in Sweden in October 2017 and the UAE in November 2017. And the opportunity for our network to grow shows much potential with enquiries received from the UK, Europe, South America, the Middle East and Australasia. 

They've also continued to run Maker Speed Dater nights, helped establish a factory residency programme with Dundee Design Festival and started doing studio consultancy. This has lead to creating new platforms like Skills Works; an open directory of every informal course, class or workshop in Scotland - and delivering the Make Works extension an alternative manufacturing plug in for the IKEA website which was funded by FutureMakespaces at the RCA, in collaboration with Rectangle design.

Make Works has been transferred to the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), Fab City Research Lab Barcelona, and will sit within Fab City’s Distributed Design platform, funded by Creative Europe. 


Jessica Guy
December 07, 2018



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