Why are makers so vital to cities?
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that ‘makers’ (small scale manufacturers, artisans, craftspeople, etc.), when centred in cities, bring with them growth in economic activity, entrepreneurship and job creation. However, for me, as a maker and a member of a community of makers, perhaps the most significant contribution that we have to offer is one that affects a city’s culture rather than its commerce. Successful makers, carving out niches (both physical and creative), require passion, resilience, innovation, co-operation, adaptability, to name but a few traits. Typically, areas of cities become transformed when the concentration of people who ‘make’ reaches the point where their collective productivity is tangible and influential in defining ‘new’ cultural hubs. This reminds people (even if only subconsciously) of our arguably unique, age-old human capacity for creativity. A quantitative shift in the size of a community that makes leads to a qualitative change to pockets of cities that might otherwise not reap such cultural (and financial) reward. Cities, by their very nature, immerse their inhabitants in the world of the corporate, of the homogeneous, of the ‘large’. Makers, remind us of the organic, of the bespoke, of the ‘small’.
Jonny is a friend of the office. He’s made lots of our office furniture! He also makes wooden model bases for us. For our public engagement work in Balham he built a ‘balloon basket’ in which to hold our community consultation. With his educator hat on, he advised us on a new library concept for Hackney’s Berger Primary School.
Jonny Allams, teaching and learning consultant, All Learning, carpenter and model maker