London Maker Culture

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London Graffiti

London is an intriguing city. I have many friends and associates here, and its my second time travelling here since 2018. I see myself living here most definitely. It is a city of multiculturalism with a hint of grungy tendencies. Those are things I like a lot. It is a city of many twists and curves embedded within its map. I will talk about city of London and how its identity shapes the makerscene with its city.

Something to know about London is its weather. The typical day in London is filled with gray skies. Personally I love it, but others may not be as accepting of the grim nature that results. Without sunlight, how does one absorb the most sun into their body? Simple – wear black. A lot of people in London rock black like no other city I have seen. It shows the edginess and character of the location. Londoners, in general, are quite friendly (like most human beings tend to be), but they tend to be very quiet individuals until you start a conversation with them. This reserved and all black nature of the environment makes for a city of introverts. For anyone like myself who writes, it is great.

Makers

Edginess is something that can be seen throughout the city with the large proliferation of graffiti in various neighborhoods. I’m from Chicago and have family in New York, but the graffiti here is different then the norm I am used to. I see this as a direct reflection on the nature of people here. Graffiti and public art is typically an act of rebellion. The quite introverts of London have a lot on their minds. Rebellion is a key ingredient for a maker personality. This ties directly into how the city operates as a place for makers.

So how does this translate into the maker scene? From what I understand in researching London and being around different spaces, I noticed that the work they do in their spaces is intense. I mean this in the best way possible. Londoners are very cerebral. The ideas that can come from this city are extremely creative. I myself enjoy venturing out to London so the twists and turns of the city can make me reorient my creativity. I met a man casually in coffee shop the other day with cool pants, and I said “cool pants”. He said thanks and then proceeded to explain he made the pants as well as the rings he was wearing at a Maker Space. I wasn’t shocked but it definitely made me laugh.

Makerspace philosophy is rooted in the idea of making, tinkering, playing, using art, and engineering products based on your interests. As I have been around the city and done research on the institutions, it has a direct effect on the type of makers within this city. It is also reflected with some of the established larger companies from London, as well as newer startups and organizations that have been byproducts of the Maker Movement. This can include a company such as Open Bionics, Lab Genius, and many more. The companies and products provided by London and UK in general are extremely creative.
A maker has to have a rebellious streak to be disruptive in my opinion. You have to have an edge to you to go out on a limb and start making what you fancy. Lots of people look at you weird when you tell them you want to do wild things like 3D print rings, or create parts for a prosthetic limb because you are bored. The grunge/rock and roll undertones of the London culture definitely influence how people make things in this city and in the UK overall.

The MakerSpaces I will be checking out in London will be the following:

  1. South London MakerSpace
  2. Barclays Eagle Lab
  3. Makerversity
  4. Institute of Making
  5. Machines Room
  6. London Hackerspace
  7. The Inventions Room
  8. Hackoustic
  9. Building BloQs
  10. Cre-8
  11. Richmond Makerlabs

Ideally after these visits, I’ll confirm these initial thoughts on London, or I’ll discover more than I intended.

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