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Tuesday 28 April 2015

Work It: Makerversity

See engineering, elbow grease and creativity combine as Makerversity - kick-starter of the ‘third industrial revolution’ - comes to Selfridges London.

Established in 2013, Makerversity is a pioneering community that brings together the best and most exciting makers, providing them with the space, tools and collaborative environment necessary to grow their business.

As part of our London Work It events programme, three Makerversity makers will set up shop in the Ultra Lounge on LG, demonstrating new creative processes in their pop-up workshop. From the inventors of a 3D lollipop to the creators of unique multi-use jewellery, read on to meet the resident makers and hear the inspiring stories behind their designs.



The Candymechanics’ mission is simple: to make edible stuff more awesome.

The brand highlights how modern technologies are creating a new wave of contemporary artisans who use cutting-edge equipment to create bespoke products on a small scale.

Bucking the trend for mass-produced lollipops created with little thought for individuality, their custom lollipops are one-of-a-kind creations full of character.

By harnessing the latest 3D printers, Candymechanics create lollipop moulds of people’s heads, which are then filled with wonderful sugar concoctions, sourced from all natural ingredients.

A modern day Willy Wonka, we caught up with Ben Redford, co-founder of Candymechanics, to discuss his passion for putting heads on sticks. Read more…

Why lollipops?
Two reasons. A: We think everyone has always wanted to lick their own (or someone else's) face. B: We also think that at some point, everyone has wanted someone else's head on a stick. We're just providing the means to do it - call us a public service.

In all seriousness though, there's some incredible tech out there at the moment and we feel like it's a great time to apply some of that tech to the world of candy. We're not just about lollipops, we want to push the boundaries of how people think and interact with candy in all its forms.

How do you think 3D printers have changed the making process?
3D printers have massively reduced the time to get from an idea to something that resembles a good working prototype. They've changed the making process because you can now make rapid iterations and developments on a product very quickly, hack other products with printed parts and even produce small batches of products from the comfort of your desk, kitchen or space rocket.

What makes a great working environment?
There are a whole bunch of things that make a great working environment. Here are the ones that I like in no specific order:

Change: having a fluid, adaptable and constantly changing space keeps things interesting and makes you look at space in different ways.

People: never mind the cheesiness - interesting, positive and even weird people are the key to any great working environment. The more different to whatever I'm doing the better. They'll often have totally contrasting ways of looking at problems than you do, which can be both a blessing and a curse...

How has Makerversity helped you to create?
I used to be based in my shed in my back garden and may have gone a little bit crazy working in their on my own. Makerversity has helped me create through access to tools and knowledge, but above all, people whom I can share ideas with. A lot can be solved with a cup of tea and a chat. Show less…

Elk + Cassini Sound
sounds from outer space to bring inner calm

ELK is a design studio specialising in the creation of interactive products and installations. Cassini Sound are a team of composers and sound designers who create bespoke audio for all kinds of visual media.

As modern life becomes ever more saturated with information, it is important to be able to disconnect in order to find a moment of serenity or focus. Music is an exceptionally powerful method of achieving escapism, providing an effective retreat from the noise of the world.

During their residency at Selfridges, ELK and Cassini Sound will create a series of beautiful, handmade products featuring original soundscapes synthesised from NASA data. These cosmic cadences will evoke a sense of calm and peace, while also prompting the listener to reflect on their place in the universe.

Tim Burrell-Saward, founder of ELK, explains more about the ground-breaking concept here. Read more…

What 'working need' do your devices answer?
This project came about from a shared realisation that the act of working, and specifically work undertaken in front of a screen, is becoming increasingly riddled with opportunity for distraction. From social networking platforms to forums, instant messaging to clickbait sites, mobile games to the dreaded wikihole, the quantity of instant media that we have access to is ever increasing. These distractions can mean we run the risk of never giving our full attention to the task at hand for more than a fleeting moment, which can result in a weird limbo state of semifocus where, although we might be working, our minds are clamouring for another quick content fix. Just one more refresh, one more clicked link, then we’ll do some work.

Certain types of music can be a great aid to concentration, and can be excellent tools in helping to shut out a lot of the clamour around us, so we decided to create a series of beautiful soundscapes designed to foster focus and aid concentration, and then embed them in a series of physical forms designed to enhance the ritual of listening to them. Objects that you may keep on your person or on your desk, ready for those times when you just need to escape.

Using music as a means of focus is nothing new though; chanting has been used in many religions as an aid to spiritual development for centuries, but we were interested to see if we could develop a series of sonic soundscapes with similar levels of gravitas that avoided links to religion. So we’re going for the polar opposite - our source material is synthesised from actual electromagnetic waves captured by NASA’s Voyager probes. Thanks to NASA’s open data policy we have access to information that originated from planets including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, which we will be synthesising in order to create a series of beautifully epic, rolling soundscapes.

So in a bit of a roundabout answer to the question, we’re going to be creating devices that allow escapism from the noise of modern city life.

Why is collaboration so important to your work?
Without collaboration you risk always working within your own limitations, be they known or unknown. Working with others gives us new viewpoints on things that we may never have considered on our own, which in a somewhat leftfield project like this is extra important. We’re lucky at Makerversity to be surrounded by some of the most creative makers in the city, who come from all sorts of backgrounds and with all kinds of specialities. It means you’re never alone when you want to try something different, which is a wonderful thing.

How has Makerversity helped you to create?
Makerversity has facilitated collaborations that we would never usually have had the opportunity to undertake (such as this one with Selfridges), which encourages us to create new and innovative projects that might not otherwise be part of our output. The space itself is absolutely flooded with creativity of all sorts, which is in itself inspiring and helps one take influence from a wide variety of sources. It’s an incredible environment for explorative creation, and one that we feel very lucky to be a part of. Show less…

Stööki x Roland Ellis
Past, Present and Future

Stööki is a dynamic design collective that works across sound, vision and play, creating experiential products and events for world-renowned brands and institutions such as Louis Vuitton, the V&A and the Tate.

Roland Ellis brings the industrial design process to a multitude of creative disciplines. As an internationally commissioned artist based in London, he produces products and installations with digital and material narrative.

Stööki and Roland Ellis will be crafting intricate jewellery pieces inspired by tools from the past, present and future of work. From ancient hammering skills to modern techniques such as 3D printing, these beautiful creations will be individually crafted for a unique look.

Whether it’s a necklace that doubles as a screwdriver or a pendant that repairs your iPhone, Stööki’s jewellery pieces promise to become one-of-a-kind artefacts from today’s working landscape.

We caught up with Roland Ellis and the founders of Stööki, Nadia Abbas and Luke Hippolyte to talk more about the relationship between artisanal techniques and modern-day technology. Read more…

What inspired your jewellery creations?
Stööki: A consistent thread running through our past collections has been the influence of geometry and we continue to develop our bold, minimalist aesthetic through this exploration.

How would you describe your work ethic?
Stööki: Stööki represents being self-made and having a good work ethic to achieve your dreams. As a collective, we believe in co-creation and heavily encourage audience participation. Our philosophy of Sound, Vision and Play is interpreted through a lifestyle that speaks to many different genres.

What role does the 'artisan' have in today's world of high-tech production?
Stööki: The Stööki Craft Makers have always been fascinated by the relationship between handcrafted techniques and forward-thinking technology. We combine new and old techniques to push design boundaries. We strive to keep the handcrafted element and uniqueness that comes with it at the forefront of our brand.

Do you think it's important to be collaborative as an artist?
Roland: For me yes, the way I work, collaboration is almost inevitable. Collaboration takes many forms however, a primary outcome aside from the work is knowledge which is much like any workshop tool.

How would you describe your working routine?
Roland: Organised failing. My work is split inbetween studio and workshop environments, so on the one hand routine and organisation are fundamental, on the other structure allows me to ignore the plan when something fails well. Show less…