Making Futures 2021

Re-crafting the Local-Global Maker Relationship

The seventh edition of our Making Futures biennial international research conference will be held on 16th September 2021.

John Small + James Johnson

|(John) CEO Studio Klein, Director of Design for Steelcase| (James) CEO getMADE Design Consultancy, Tutor Royal College of Art, Glasgow School of Art, Fellow Royal Society of Arts||

The Island Project - Objects from a Rural Landscape.

In our ‘global’ world it is possible to have anything made, from any materials, anywhere. Our project began by looking at making and materials in a very different way. What if you could only use the materials, skills, and resources from a defined area?

How would that impact the way that these objects were designed? What research, into the availability of resources, would influence the development into the production of the objects? The Island Project ‘accidentally’ began investigating these questions.


Having worked for the architects Norman Foster and Santiago Calatrava, James now specialises in the area where Art, Design and Science meet. His work encompasses all aspects of design from visual to technical, from straight Industrial Design to Design for Environmental Art and Light Installations. James runs his own design consultancy getMADE, and the work varies from large scale projects such as Visual Director for the NVA Hinterland event that took place in St Peters Seminary, design for ‘Ghost Peloton’ for the Grand depart of the Tour de France, to small intimate projects such as set design for the singer song writer Kathryn Joseph or the design of furniture for a bar at the National Theatre, London. James has been a regular tutor at the Royal College of Art London and Glasgow School of Art and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

John Small spent the early part of his career working as a freelance designer working in the USA and Italy. He joined Foster + Partners in 1985 where he specialised in furniture production and interior design and in particular was responsible for these aspects for the airport at Stansted, including signs and graphics. John was also closely involved in design of the Sackler Galleries at the Royal Academy of Arts, the new library at Cranfield Institute of Technology and the Mediatéque in Nîmes, France. Further to these projects, John was involved with the concept interior designs for the Swiss Re Tower, Executive levels in London, the Post Haus restaurant, St, Moritz, Switzerland, the Supreme Courts in Singapore, the Hearst Headquarters building in New York and the Galleries for the new American wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. John also designed several Foster + Partners’ major retrospective exhibitions. During 1994 John was responsible for the establishment of a furniture and product design department within the Foster office. The product design group has grown and is engaged in the design of a diverse range of products, with a client base independent from the architectural projects, extending from taps and door handles to major furniture systems, architectural sanitary ware, lighting and building products and was made a Partner in 2004. In 2010, John became a Director of Design for Steelcase, responsible for the product design and interior design teams in the EMEA region. In 2014 he was given the responsibility to deliver the Learning and Innovation Center The LINC, for Steelcase, in Munich. John is now working as a freelance consultant at Studio Klein, his own consultancy company.