Design Source

Kevin Phaup
College of Arts and Letters University of Notre Dame


Kevin Phaup, IDSA
College of Arts and Letters
University of Notre Dame

Today’s consumer demands product customization and low cost. Digital fabrication technologies enable both. The rapidly growing movement towards digital fabrication has placed makerspaces around the globe in ever-increasing numbers. These spaces provide an existing structure for the distribution of making instead of the distribution of products. How can designers help direct the makerspace and take advantage of a developing network of manufacturing? Furthermore, can products be designed to exploit this network in a manner that empowers them, rather than one that relinquishes their creativity and the designer’s influence?  

In an entrepreneurial culture, young designers should know how to utilize these technologies to produce prototypes or products, and effectively communicate their ideas. Physicality is important in design education, and creating physical representation of ideas adds to the body of knowledge rather than drawing from it. 

Using a furniture case study, Kerve, the discussion explores the possibilities with digital fabrication, using a network of makerspaces for manufacturing, and the opportunities for designers in the maker movement. The case study takes a look at designers influence in the makerspace, sustainable benefits in the distribution of making, designing for customization, quality control in a decentralized manufacturing system, and making as a means of research and design process.