Making a Maker-Space

Jan 9, 2016 | Uncategorized

Maker-spaces are popping up everywhere in cities and colleges across the country.  Each one has its own personality, focus, and culture.  One element that allows maker-spaces to become so special is their evolution. The way these spaces evolve to reflect the diverse mix of creatives that contribute to the vibes is vital to the success and function of the space.  There is no magic formula for a thriving maker space, but there are a few things that help foster a thriving maker community.

Herman Miller recently studied how learning spaces can encourage and foster innovation.  They looked at three different types of activities that encourage innovation; “Makers innovate throughtinkering.  Hackers innovate throughdeconstruction.  Coworkers innovate throughnetworking.”

Maker-spaces bring together like-minded individuals with diverse backgrounds to explore new ideas.  Every maker-space has different needs but here are a few things that can help these spaces thrive.

  1. Ownership:  In order for the community space to thrive the participants need to have a sense of ownership.  A membership fee can ensure everyone has skin in the game and can be used to upgrade equipment and technology.
  2. Coffee:  Coffee is creative fuel.  It helps the mind resolve creative challenges, and it gets you through the grind when you’re feeling run down.
  3. Tools:  Having tools available for making and tinkering is a must.  When more advanced equipment is onsite, it’s helpful to have a knowledgeable individual become the expert, teach the basics, and communicate safety protocols.
  4. Flexibility:  Having furniture that can be reconfigured enables the community to respond to the diverse needs of startups and makers.  Workshops make for an epic event space when the tables are rolled against the wall.
  5. 24 Hour Access:  Carded access helps keep the space secure and provides a refuge for the maker who can’t turn their brain off at 2am, or the entrepreneur who’s racing to get that presentation ready for their 9am meeting.

This list is just a starting point and by no means exhaustive. To learn more check outCatalyze Chicago (They really get it right!) and NuSpark at Virginia Tech.  Have you ever been a part of a maker-space, what were your must haves?