Introduction to Making Futures 2021
Making Futures is an Arts University Plymouth research platform exploring contemporary art and craft, design-to-make, and associated forms of neo-artisanal production. It maps the emerging trend towards smaller enterprises producing more locally embedded, and environmentally responsible design-led goods and services, and posits that these more nuanced regimes of production and consumption create new possibilities for small-scale craft, design-to-make, neo-artisanal producers and micro-manufacturers, particularly where these are able to innovate around technology, form, function, aesthetic meaning and, especially, local, (social) relevance.
It also supports the reciprocal exchange of ideas between these modern-day maker practices (many of which incorporate digital tools into their work flows) and traditional indigenous crafts. Indeed, by gathering this diverse spectrum of practices together and figuratively positioning them within a shared ‘maker-space’, Making Futures brings creative practitioners together in ways that deeply enrich cross-disciplinary dialogue and facilitate best-practice knowledge exchanges. In doing so, Making Futures is especially concerned to investigate and promote sustainable and socially engaged forms of practice, viewing their creators as social entrepreneurs and innovators. Through their development of typically small-scale, locally embedded but globally aware creative enterprises, these practitioners profoundly enrich our societies by helping to construct resilient communities capable of embracing both social and environmental justices alongside purposeful economic regeneration.
The Making Futures Research Platform and International Biennial Conference
Operating successfully for over a decade, Making Futures consists of a range of associated research and development activities, including an international biennial conference, an on-line journal, and a number of funded art, craft and design research projects exploring its themes. The international Plymouth-based biennial conference serves as a dissemination vehicle for activities across the sector globally. Curated by Malcolm Ferris since its first edition in 2009, the conference has become acknowledged as one of the leading events in its field, with invited editions having also taken place in China, South Korea, and the Philippines. This conference differs significantly from previous editions in that, in view of COVID restrictions, it is configured as an intensive one-day on-line global event consisting of three overlapping thematic sessions.