Making Futures affords an opportunity for an international cast of scholars and makers, curators, campaigner and activists, to investigate contemporary craft as a 'change agent' within 21st-century society.
So far three ‘editions’ of Making Futures have taken place, all close to Plymouth but removed from the city centre, offering the opportunity for a different type of conference and something of a retreat.
The discussion sits within the context of sustainability issues, which constitute some of the most pressing economic and cultural challenges facing societies across the globe. Climate change, environmental degradation, the loss of indigenous species and cultures and resource depletion, coupled with the rising costs of energy, are the factors forcing changes in thinking and behaviour that point to the urgent need to develop new socio-economic paradigms, practices, and ideological rationales.
The ideological is paramount here, driving the politics of choice and action, and thus shaping social justice and social innovation agendas that cannot, in our view, be divorced from sustainability programmes.
The ideological also plays its part in the so-called ‘disappearance’ of making, evident in western societies. This absence is not simply the consequence of an economically-driven relocation of production into cheap labour markets, but also, at least in the UK, the innate effect of a culture that has consistently underplayed the value of creative labour.
If our confidence in the world is founded on an embodied appreciation of its materiality, one effect of this loss might well be a reduction in our collective sense of agency and well-being.
Making Futures, therefore places the material cultures of craft at the centre of a critical debate facing global consumer society: how might we move beyond mass consumption, to a political economy capable of valuing both our needs for social well-being and resilient communities that can also incorporate concerns for environmental resources? And this issue has become all the more urgent in the wake of the global financial crisis.
The third edition of Making Futures took place in September 2013 within the magnificently sited Mount Edgcumbe estate on the River Tamar. It addressed ‘Interfaces between craft knowledge and design: with new opportunities for social innovation and sustainable practice’.
Keynote speakers included Adélia Borges – Brazilian writer, curator and lecturer and author of Design + Craft: the Brazilian Path; the English designer and furniture maker Gareth Neal; Jaideep Prabhu, Director of the Centre for India & Global Business at the University of Cambridge; Tomas Diez Ladera, Director of the FabLab Barcelona; and Rosy Greenlees, Executive Director of the Crafts Council (UK).
Papers were given within seven different strands including Transformative Practice in & through Textiles, Crafting with Digital Technologies and Post-Fordism/Perspectives on Consumerism. It was attended by some 150 presenters and delegates, from as far away as China, Australia and New Zealand.
View the Making Futures Journal 3 here.