Factory finding, filming, public events, finding an open business model and the occassional talk. It's been a whirlwind of a year in the Make Works studio, here is our 2015 in review.
We started the year with our inaugural Maker Speed Dater night in Glasgow. An evening where manufacturers, designers, makers and artists could get in the same room, meet each other and start projects. You can read about it in Core77 and MAKEZine.
Along with our film partners, Luke, Simon and Steven from the Edinburgh Film Company, we went exploring on a mini film tour of the north of Scotland. We visited mills, glass studios, weavers and even a GRP manufacturer.
We worked with our developers to launch some new features, such as our 'Saved for Later’, our map feature and a new blog. We also added some illustrations from the talented Toby Triumph.
In March we were invited to go to South Africa with the British Council and the Maker Library Network. We met some brilliant people, and explored the maker spaces of Johannesburg and Cape Town. In conversation, we discovered that designers and artists across the world face the similar problems trying to source local manufacturing to those in Scotland. We also got to explore a diamond mine (!!!)
In April, were invited to curate Glasgow’s Pecha Kucha Night at The Whisky Bond. We decided to invite manufacturers listed on Make Works to speak about what they made. You can watch their talks from the night here.
The rest of the month was a wash of catching up with our admin. Accounts, end of year reports, and finishing up an epic funding application to Creative Scotland. We’d been turned down in January, and had been struggling frame our plans into a project. We took three weeks out, buried out heads in laptops and eventually sent it in! You can read the application here.
It was around this time, we recieved a message from Make Works listed ceramacist, Kevin Andrew Morris. This sort of feedback, knowing that the work we are doing is working was possibly the highlight of our year!
We held the first Make Works meetup in May, an informal social gathering for manufacturers, makers and designers to catch up in the pub.
We were named as a significant .co.uk domains over the past 30 years, by the Nominet trust. You can read more here.
May was also the month that we took a step back from our tech accelerator programme, Seedcamp. Knowing that we couldn’t rely on arts funding long term, we had got into programme a year previously because we wanted to find a business model, so that we would grow and sustain the company. The more we spent time in the tech world however, the more we realised that trying to follow the unicorn trajectory didn’t fit with core mission or values.
We decided to take the company forward as a non-profit instead, focussed in making the tools to source local manufacturing openly accessible to everyone. It felt like a huge weight taken off our shoulders and the team at Seedcamp were remarkably supportive about the whole thing!
Since then, we’ve been following our gut, and building the company in a way that we cared about. The biggest task in the studio then became working to find alternative models that will mean Make Works can remain open, free and accessible long term.
June and July
The summer was spent researching new factories to visit and writing new content for our blog.
In July we presented at the Small is Beautiful conference in Glasgow, speaking about our journey from project to tech startup to non profit.
We also got news that we were successful in our funding! Hooray!
We launched making.makeworks, and began work on finding a sustainable business model. We have been working using two week sprints, a process inspired by Google which has allowed us to test as many revenue streams as we can think of quickly and effectively.
We started working with Eastside Projects and the Production Space in Birmingham, a group who had been following our work for a while and were interested in starting something similar in their city. It got us thinking about how we might open up our platform for other regions to use.
At the end of the month we spent a week touring the Scottish Borders, visiting sawmills, stonemasons and textile manufacturers.
September saw the launch of the Make Works Residencies. In partnership with Hospitalfield Arts in Arbroath, the project embedded textile designers, Bespoke Atelier and artist, James Rigler, into two local factories. For one month, the residents spent time at Hospitalfield house, and the manufacturing space, allowing them to experiment with materials and processes. You can read more about the project here.
We toured Dundee, filming sheet glass manufacturers to specialists in building interactive objects using Raspberry Pi.
In October we ran a Maker Speed Dater at Drouthy’s, Dundee in partnership with Creative Dundee.
We worked with Open Work, a dutch design collective based in the Hague. Their brief was to find new ways of browsing the Make Works directory and database. Their work explored taxonomies, data visualisations and eight proposals which we hope to take forward in 2016. We had a public feedback event, Make Work Data Work at SWG3, Glasgow.
We made it possible for our users to contribute to the overhead costs of running Make Works with online donations. You can find out more about them here.
We also ran a mega Make Works business model planning day. Facilitated by Roanne Dods, it brought together the full team, freelancers and our brilliant advisory group. We put our heads together and decided on which models to take forward, and how we would do so over the next year. Thanks to Snook, who allowed us to use their new Interchange space for the day.
We ran the first Make Works office hours, opening our studio doors to anyone needing advice about how to source manufacturing in Scotland.
We did another Maker Speed Dater, this time in Glasgow at The Whisky Bond. One of the highlights was getting to catch up with manufacturers that have been listed on Make Works for a couple of years, and hearing about their work since we last visited!
We took a cheeky trip to London to take part in the RSA Maker Summit. You can watch talks from the day here.
In the studio we began working on Make Works Version 3. The focus was to develop the sharing and teaching of our work, opening up our platform for partner cities and regions around the world.
Our heads were pretty deep in developing MWV3 in December. Working alongside our two fantastic developers Martin Clarke and Jamie Sterling, the project has been alot of work, but we can’t wait to ship it into the world in 2016!
On Christmas day, we released the Make Works Roulette, a manufacturing inspiration tool developed as a result of the Open Work data project.
Next year we are looking forward to visiting some fantastic new factories in Scotland. In January, there’s a Maker Speed Dater in Edinburgh, which you can book tickets for here.
You can also look forward to Make Works being available in regions outside of Scotland. If you are a passionate about local manufacturing and would be interested in starting a region, get in touch!