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Makers with a Mission Spring 2020

By Esther Ellard

Makers with a Mission

Supporting makers has always been at the heart of what we do. Our Makers with a Mission residency gives early stage creatives and startups an opportunity to explore their practice on their own terms. Whether they need time to explore and test material processes, iterate designs or develop a business model. This residency is an opportunity to get started as a professional maker without committing to high overheads.

Our focus is on Makers who are value driven and are looking to challenge society’s ideas and behaviours through the things they make. They might be exploring disruptive manufacturing processes, design for climate change or innovating within healthcare. All projects have an ethical, sustainable or social agenda at their core.

Read more about our latest cohort here…

 


Re:Flex

What is your current mission?

Our aim is to take smart materials out of research labs, exploring the use of their unique aesthetic and functional properties in everyday contexts. At present we are focusing on shape-changing materials, and how these might be used to make adaptable and reconfigurable objects. Our research explores both the design of these objects, and the associated behavioural changes needed to use them effectively.

Why is this mission important now?

Our use of materials contributes significantly to pressing environmental concerns – the type of materials we use, the scale at which we use/abuse them and what we use them for. As designers, we hope to reduce unnecessary waste through matching novel materials with objects suited for their lifespans.

What inspires you?

We are really inspired by systems and processes in nature, and by insights that come about from making connections between seemingly disparate fields of research.

What is your aim during this residency?

Our aim during the residency is to develop our material and prototypes further, and to find businesses and collaborators who share our approach to materials.

 

Read more about Re:Flex here


KAIKU

What is your current mission?

KAIKU extracts colours from agricultural byproducts for use in fashion and consumer packaging. KAIKU is a sustainable alternative to synthetic colours made from petroleum, which is devastating our environment. KAIKU transforms plant waste from everyday foods, like avocados, into a high value resource – natural plant pigments.

Why is this mission important now?

Today over 90% of consumer products are coloured using petroleum. This contributes 89 million tonnes of direct CO2 emissions each year. To decarbonize the economy, the world will need a variety of solutions to meet its current demand for colour. We could try and bring back ancient dyeing techniques, but the growing of plants used in traditional processes require farmland that could be used to produce food. KAIKU avoids this by capturing colour from the waste parts of everyday foods, such as orange peels, avocado skins, and even peanut shells. KAIKU solves the two huge problems of petroleum feedstock reliance and food waste, with viable market solutions.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the growing community of bio-designers and sustainable material start-ups that are committing to making our world greener and healthier. Innovation for mitigation and adaptation to climate change is urgently needed, and I’m excited to see how these companies are already starting to disrupt many industries like fashion, transportation, and construction.

What is your aim during this residency?

My aim for this residency will be to continue our research & development into plant-based inks and dyes for use in fashion and packaging. We’ll be doing lots of material and performance testing and working in tandem with our stakeholders to make sure the colours work as best as they can for their desired applications. I am also hoping to collaborate with and bounce ideas off of the network of designers and creatives at Makerversity.

 

Read more about Kaiku here


Tonus

 

What is your current mission?

Our mission is to overcome movement impairment in older adults, by using technology to allow them to return to activities of daily living.
We want to bridge the gap between heavy exoskeletons and soft robotics. We aim at creating a full-body, modular, customisable, comfortable powered clothing system that is worn and operated effortlessly; something that bridges lifestyle and medical devices.
Our first focus is on the knee: we want to create assistive technology embedded in activewear, that can reduce the strain on the joints and give a percentage of extra strength, tailored to the needs of each user.

Why is this mission important now?

Giving up sport after experiencing joint pain or other mobility issues, is a serious concern, especially amongst older people who have been active for their whole life (in 50 years’ time, there is projected to be an additional 8.2 million people aged 65 years and over in the UK – a population roughly the size of present-day London). 17M people over the age of 45 are active or fairly active, and over 180M people in the EU exercise regularly. However, 51% of people in the UK with joint pain reported that this had prevented them from exercising.
Our solution is aimed at helping improve life at an individual level, while also benefiting the health economy as a whole. Musculoskeletal (MSK) issues are estimated to cost the NHS about £4.8B annually, while the lack of regular activity costs around 7.4B annually. With 69 years old being the average age for a knee replacement, any assistive technology that can delay or prevent the need for such surgery is of ultimate benefit to individual quality of life, as well as the NHS.

What inspires you?

Our multi-disciplinary team of doctor engineer and product designer first met a few months ago and were brought together under the Zinc umbrella based on a common goal: To leverage assistive technology in order to create a business that will benefit the world; starting with lower limb movement impairments in older adults, but with a view of expanding to all ages and mobility issues.
Our purpose is to utilise technology in the best way to help people to help themselves.
We draw inspiration from robotics, design, fashion, sci-fi and everything in-between!

What is your aim during this residency?

Our recent residency at Makerversity gives us access to an incredible array of equipment as well as expertise, which will help us greatly in building our first functional and non-functional prototypes that demonstrate where we want to go with our company.
It also gives us an opportunity to cross-pollinate with a vibrant and passionate community in the centre of London.

 

Learn more about Tonus here


Rob Elford

 

What is your current mission?

I am an artist and maker working with a range of 3D printed materials and specialising in digital fabrication techniques. My mission is to create digitally manufactured sculptures that excite and challenge from environmentally sustainable materials, combining bio-degradable organic resins with recyclable polymers and reusable plastics.

Why is this mission important now?

We are in a period of consumer self-reflection and need to consider the future ramifications of the physical products we purchase. It is of real importance that this becomes a fundamental consideration for artists and makers, given the potentially harmful future legacy of our work.
I also want to explore how as creatives we can leverage some of the innovative benefits of digital art production to create a greener future, for example creating 0% transport emissions by allowing customers to download and print items in their own homes.

What inspires you?

I take a lot of inspiration form modern and contemporary figurative sculptors; favourites of mine include Auguste Rodin and Marc Quinn. I am also really inspired by material scientists and designers working with new environmentally responsible materials such as Suzanne Lee. Conceptually I am endlessly inspired by the idea of a society defined and shaped by the vast contradictory complexities of the digital age.

What is your aim during this residency?

My aim for this residency is to launch & establish my new brand “RE.Cured” and expand and improve my current production practices using first-rate professional tools and manufacturing equipment, particularly the Makerversity 3D printers. The residency also gives me the opportunity to collaborate and gain inspiration from a unique community of highly talented and innovative designers, artists and makers.

 

Read more about Rob Elford here

 


Compact Cane

What is your current mission?

Compact Cane is a discreet, pocket-sized, digital ‘white cane’ for visually impaired people, powered by ultrasound and haptics. Using innovative technology, Compact Cane aims to challenge what visual impairment looks like, address the social stigma around sight loss and help rebuild the confidence of millions of visually impaired people following the life changing experience of losing one’s sight.

Why is this mission important now?

Having spent the last two years listening to the stories of many visually impaired people, I’ve been moved to do something to help soften the experience of losing your sight, which can be akin to bereavement. There are over 2 million visually impaired people in the UK and 285 million worldwide. In the UK, 1 in 3 – that’s over 700,000 – visually impaired people experience stigma related to their sight loss, which can lead to depression and isolation especially in the early stages of sight loss. In a world that is becoming more digital, Compact Cane uses exciting tech to deepen one’s sense of Identity through sight loss.

What inspires you?

As a mechanical design engineer, I’m inspired by beautifully-made yet technically-exceptional products. I love products that are simple, so my design style is quite minimalistic. I’m also inspired by people’s real-life stories and have a heart for creating meaningful products to meet the needs of marginalised people.

What is your aim during this residency?

As the inventor of Compact Cane, residency at Makerversity gives me access to cutting-edge workshop facilities which will be useful during the productisation of our working prototypes. With these, I aim to pilot my business and start raising investment for launching our product through a Kickstarter. I also look forward to being inspired by other makers and entrepreneurs in the community!


Turn

What is your current mission?

Our mission is to develop a recycling system for organic pads and tampons. Rather than polluting the planet by sending them to landfill or incinerating them, we want to make used menstrual care products a source of renewable energy and natural fertiliser.

Why is this mission important now?

As new organic product brands such a Dame and TOTM are shaking up the way we deal with blood, periods are slowly becoming less taboo and less damaging to the body. Turn is here to make sure that choice is also actively benefitting the planet.

What inspires you?

The vision of an equitable society: one where the products we use to manage menstrual health are simple, visible and considered. Turn is inspired by all the people trying to give menstruation the same level of importance as any other natural function.

What is your aim during this residency?

We have so many things going on, as any start-up organisation does, but our goal over the next six months is to have completed our first crowdfunding round and used it to fund our lab trial at Cranfield University.

 

Read more about Turn here


That’s Caffeine

What is your current mission?

Turning your everyday coffee into a sustainable and desirable objects for your home.

Why is this mission important now?

With today technology we can show that we can turn waste into resource. Also with never-ending amount of litter, we need to find solution for it before its too late.

What inspires you?

Upcycled design, wabi sabi, japanese simplicity and german modernism

What is your aim during this residency?

Refine the processes and ingredients of the material to be close or 100% waste-based and bio compostable.

 

Read more about Atticus and his That’s Caffeine project here

 

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Posted By Esther Ellard