In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz about the Maker Movement and how it has changed the way that products are designed, manufactured, and sold. In the same way that the internet revolutionized buying products and services, the Maker Movement is doing the same, creating new opportunities for established companies, startups, and workers.
The movement has exploded in just the past few years, thanks to an ever-growing community of makers, who’ve developed an arsenal of tools and ideas, along with the increasing willingness of the manufacturing industry to embrace these new developments.
Here is how the Maker Movement came about and its implications for manufacturing across the board. We’ve also taken the time to explore how the movement is allowing you to create a home that is perfectly tailored to your needs.
The Origins of the Maker Movement
In the past 10 years, there has been a renewed interest in making things. The Maker Movement can be formally defined as a trend that involves individuals or groups of people creating and marketing new products from various materials using new techniques and tools. Essentially, it could be summed up as a technology-based extension of DIY culture.
The Maker Movement in America evolved as a response to most products being made overseas and mass production. When these two established features of modern manufacturing collided with the fact that many people are now spending all day in front of the computer, a new era was born.
Some scholars have even hypothesized that the movement is actually a reaction to the growing sense of disconnection with the physical world that modern cities are experiencing. As a result, it has become a sort of counterculture to try to diffuse the negative impacts that disposables, chain stores, multinational brands, and consumerism have had on society.
Technology and Tools
It is quite clear that the internet played a major role in the development of the movement. As 3-D printing became one of the most visible technologies employed by makers, the applications of 3-D printing technology have exploded. In addition, the cloud has also played an important role, as makers use it to share business ideas, techniques, and designs.
Open-source technology, including programmable microcontrollers and microcomputers, are also important for makers because they are easy to program and enable connected devices.
However, the interesting thing about maker culture is that it doesn't only incorporate the use electronics, robotics, and 3-D printing. It also includes more traditional activities, such as woodworking, metalworking, and crafting. With a strong focus on learning and using practical skills, just about anyone can become a maker!
Community is also a very important part of the Maker Movement. Around the world, makers have joined together to create “maker spaces,” culminating in the launch of Maker Faire in 2006. Maker Faire brings together artists, students, crafters, educators, tech enthusiasts, science clubs, engineers, and more at festivals to share ideas and resources.
Considered part science fair and part county fair, Maker Faires attract thousands of people each year. They are also being independently held in the Bay Area and cities around the world, including New York, Tokyo, Oslo, and Shenzhen.
A Unique Focus on Customization
Unlike the products of yesteryear, the Maker Movement has redefined product design with a focus on customization. Although customization has been considered as the ideal model for effective marketing and advertising for some time, this line of thinking has now extended into manufacturing. Today’s consumers are looking for items that are made by hand, feel special, and are uniquely their own.
On the other side of the aisle, more people are starting to think of manufacturing as not just the exclusive realm of huge manufacturers. Now, smaller businesses and single entrepreneurs are becoming maker companies and are essentially rethinking the model of the manufacturer as a high-volume operation that is designed to produce individual units that are the outcome of a single exacting product design.
Applications of The Maker Movement
In just a short time, the Maker Movement has had an enormous impact on consumer products and services. The applications of the Maker Movement can be seen in service industries with the craft cocktail and craft beer. Ten years ago you had to really look to find bars and restaurants that offered small batch beers of artisinal cocktails. And grocery stores only stocked the bigger brands. But now consumers that appreciate the quality and innovation of the craft movement have amazing access without having to look for specialty locations, and home brewing has skyrocketed.
In fact, craft beverages have become so popular that major brands are starting to changing their product offerings in order to appeal to more niche audiences. The huge growth of third wave coffee shops like Blue Bottle shows how this has affected the cafe industry. People want their drinks hand made, one at a time, all using the best ingredients.
It is also seen in personal goods like clothing, hats, and accessories. Craft sites, like Etsy, have exploded in popularity and now Etsy has even launched their own movement, Etsy Maker Cities, which is designed to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship and micro businesses by creating opportunities for local governments to support makers that are a part of the Etsy Community.
The Maker Movement and the Furniture Industry
In addition, the Maker Movement has inspired people to get back to making pieces one at a time here in the U.S. Since the push for sustainable furniture has only continued to receive more support, more customers are looking to purchase locally when it comes to furniture for their homes.
People value furniture pieces that are made one at a time because it’s not disposable furniture. At Medley, each piece is made just for the individual customer and has all of the elements of quality and craftsmanship. We provide our hand-to-home craftsmanship, which means furniture made by hand using eco-friendly materials that is built to last.
This means a bright future for the furniture industry as companies adopt maker culture to appeal to millennial consumers. One of the great things about furniture is that even as technology has advanced in terms of how it's sold, or some of the materials that are used, there are still some fundamental elements that have remained the same. When you're looking for a piece that's comfortable, looks great, and will last, sometimes good old fashioned handmade is the best way to go.