The first and most natural common ground is innovation. General Electric is a brand which is apparently light-years away from the maker movement, and yet the 130 trillion dollar a year industrial giant has understood that, with respect to when it used to take years and millions of dollars to develop a new product, today with the aid of digital fabrication and sharing, this can be done in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost. They have thus brought life to a number of initiatives tied to innovation such as GE Garages, true Fab Labs where makers and company experts can meet and work together on new projects, following the principle that innovation can be born from anyone’s intuition.
Sony have also recently launched a similar initiative in the United States with the Future Lab programme, with which they provide makers with innovative prototypes and concepts which come directly from their R&D departments in Japan, giving anyone the opportunity to conclude projects which perhaps otherwise would never have seen the light of day.
As everyone knows, a fab lab is not a Fab Labs without 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC milling machines. It is thus by acquired right that Autodesk, the first brand to have developed 3D software, has begun to place their name side by side with makers, strengthening their positioning as absolute pioneers in the world of technology.
Thus Artist-in-Residence was created, one of the most interesting collaborations between brands and makers: the Autodesk programme welcomes designers, artists, engineers and other innovators to explore the future of design at Pier 9, the Autodesk innovation workshop in the heart of San Francisco.
But what is the big difference between this and the initiatives of GE and Sony?
Well, at Pier 9 they don’t invent products that may bring profit to the company, instead they explore the confines of that which could be designed tomorrow. Makers have the intellectual property of their inventions, on the condition that they share them with the entire world through Instructables, the most well-known and active DIY portal in the world, which was coincidentally bought by Autodesk in 2011.
The scenario that we have tried to describe to you is most certainly in evolution, and the future is still to be made, rich with opportunities both for brands and the makers’ movement. The truth however is that for the future to be bright, brands must be careful not to lose sight of their values or commitments, which would risk betraying the relationship with their interlocutors.