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Design: ToMake

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Other publications referring to this subject of 'To Make'


To make, a non-thought-of factor within Sustainability


Posing the problem
'To Make', what place has it in well being? The human activity of 'making' is more and more replaced by 'consuming'. Is this replacement possible without damage?
Could it be that a positive value for 'making' is an element in the construction of a sustainable society? If, indeed, to be personally engaged in making would show up to be a component of welfare, is an economic realization of it possible? And would this all together be regarded as progress?

Fundamentals of 'Making
'To Make', as a biological determined ability of human nature can be compared to abilities as communication (speech), sex and aggressiveness. 'To Make' has a genetic history identical to the rest of human development. 'To Make' can be described as an intense interaction between the brain and the hand, supported by the rest of the body. There is a constant feedback of experiences of 'doing' into images of expectation, that go before the next deed of making. Moreover, the coupling of thinking and manual activity is projected on a time path.
'Time' is a consciously included part of assessment and choice.

Making versus Creativity

'To Make' differs from 'being creative'. In creativity someone tries to distinguish, to stand out from its companions, whatever the useful purpose also may be served with it.\\ 
In 'making' someone solves a part of its problems around its identity (feeling alone, excluded) by being busy in an identical, similar or at least recognizable way as the do or could do.

'To Make' is akin to social activities as making music, sports, knitting, trifling work (niggling work), spinning. In this creativity can be incorporated, though this certainly is not a precondition.
'To Make' often is of a mediative nature.

Making, the border between pain and pleasure
'To Make' differs from labor or toil. It does not include the component of tolerated suffering. 'To Make' may take effort. Being tired can be a component of the satisfaction gotten from 'Making'.

To not make
What is the consequence for human conduct if making a thing oneself becomes redundant? By which compensating conduct is it replaced? Boredom ensues most probably in a temporary situation of not willing, being able or being allowed 'To Make'. Everybody has experienced compensating behavior for boredom: negative interaction with others, irritation, aggressiveness, a blacker outlook on one's surrounding and future. When not willing, not being able, not being allowed 'To Make' becomes a structural part of someone's life, the same reactions play a role, though the reactions are more durable ones. In an attempt to incorporate the structural change in restrictions, a person will adapt his or her behavioral pattern, to a point of considering the changing behavior a reason for the change in structure. This situation is often experienced in groups, and thus the compensation will also appear in the social structure of the group. This all could result in apathy or radicalization. Those living on the prosperous side of the Western welfare divide will recognize the situation in (black) ghetto's and no-go area's in this. For these people it will be harder to compare between their own situation and a culture where 'Making' is of central importance. Images of “poverty” and “long ago” abound, eventually leading to the grateful realization that the past and poverty are no longer with us. Any reference to the positive experiences that result from a 'making' culture are lost in the process of becoming a consumer society.

Making and Durability
The research that Demotech has done towards the use of “design space” has benefitted the prevention of poverty and environmental damage. Economics are central in this research. In hundreds of Demotech's designs it is shown how an alternative method of manufacture (or making) can lead to the reduction of environmental pressures necessary for sustainability. This reduction is best achieved by making better use of a community's local potential for making resources. 'Making' consequently occupies a central role in such a community. This “new craftsmanship” owes its superiority over industrial production to a better use of knowledge. Not only does this method make better use of the existing knowledge base, it allocates the knowledge of a particular handicraft more effectively. The shape societal order will take in a sustainable 'making' society differs markedly from our own. When weighing the differences between a 'making' society and a consumer society one has to consider both the act of making and the shape that society will necessarily have to take to allow that. For many this evokes a very vague and (for now) unattractive image. It is important to remember that when making this comparison, the economy has always stood central.

Making and Well being

What role does well being play in the forming of a sustainable society? To answer this question one might explore what 'making' means for well being. What is happiness associated with? What are happy moments associated with? What is a child who finds fulfillment in a game, actually doing? Of course 'making' is not the only factor affecting a happy and sustainable society. It would be an enrichment to our understanding to look at what the effect on our well being would be of changing the way in which we produce our resources. Such research is possible taking into account Demotech's guiding principles: that sustainability follows from supplying knowledge in favor of 'making' locally while sustaining or improving the level of well being. Granted that it is a positive one, the lesson learned can be added to the governing policy as a societal value which should eventually realize a change to more sustainability. From Demotech's perspective it seems that 'making' should be reintroduced into peoples' lives, giving it an added economic value by making handicraft knowledge as openly available as it once was.

R. van Tijen, october 5th, 1998, Dieren.

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