On May 24th, I was invited by the Rome Maker Faire organisation to give a presentation about Fablab Amsterdam, along with Tomas Diez (Fablab Barcelona) and Eddie Kirkby (Fablab Manchester). The event took place at the Acquario Romano, a beautiful building built between 1885 and 1887. An impressive mixed audience of 650 people showed up to see and meet Neil Gershenfeld, the founder of the Fablab movement.
Neil gave a stunning keynote. As always, he carefully explained that a 3D printer is not the centerpiece of the new desktop revolution, and more impressively, that back in 1981, the industry was looking down on all these tinkerers who were pioneering in their garages on what became the personal computer, assuming these people were just playing around.
Meanwhile, the PC has become our main tool for almost everything. He compared this to what is happening today, that the industry is looking down at the makers movement and again thinks that these people are just playing around. But Neil is convinced that the makers movement is taking over and will create our new future economies.
Personally, next to the Fablab Amsterdam, I introduced the upcoming Makers Guild, which we are currently developing at Waag and that we will open to the public on June 21. The Makers Guild will bring together traditional crafts, digital personal fabrication and life sciences. I was showing the audience typical Fablab stuff like wood joinery, and compared this to old Japanese wood joinery from the medieaval times. My point is that with digital precision, we produce much more poor wood joints than our anchesters did 500 years ago by hand, without any machines. This made me think that we should also look back and learn from the traditional crafts and combine them with digital fabrication. As an example, I showed the people the dining table we are currently building at Fablab Amsterdam, a stunning table made from Chilean laurel burl wood and American walnut wood, half machined, half made by hand. You can follow the project on our website.
To conclude, there currently are about seven Fablab initiatives in Italy, and it seems that the makers movement makes some noise in Italy. A great sign in a country with the oldest, most amazing craft tradition and architectural masterpieces in Europe.