ArtEZ established the centre of expertise Future Makers (FM) in 2015. The new Centre of Expertise (CoE) brings together the ArtEZ’s Professorships Fashion and Product Design & Interior Architecture, along with other knowledge partners. At FM researchers work on research projects in cooperation with public partners such as universities and governments on one hand and private partners like companies and trade associations on the other. FM has the characteristics of a lab and studio for interdisciplinary design based research. The main goal of FM is to develop more sustainable value chains for products and services in the field of fashion, textiles, product and interior design. The research methodology is design driven (Constructive Design Research, Research Through Design) what means that in every research project piloting with materials, techniques, new functions, market interventions based on models and prototypes are essential parts of the process. Real objects are the hypothesis of each design research and they will be tested by different stakeholders.
FM uses different models for research projects: Speculative Space and three types of Field labs.
Speculative Space is a safe place for taking risks and to work on radical innovations, fundamental research and future scenarios. Central are the critical questions and research process of the designer. His/her research drive connects the designers with partners in education, business and research institutes. This kind of research is critical, fundamental and speculative and will show future scenarios for societal challenges, based on a creative and artistic approach and always materialised in prototypes that can be experienced with all our senses. This kind of research becomes meaningful in what Constructive Design Researchers call the ‘showroom’: the space in which design, art and science meet and become public. Research results are circulating in international discourse and will inspire and stimulate governments, companies and designers to develop sustainable value chains.
Field labs are more practical oriented and shift from the ‘studio as the world’ to the ‘world as the studio’. The field is a testing ground for and with society. This is the place for research into the possibilities of sustainable and circular living, not only in a technological ways, but especially focused on the cultural side of innovation. The critical, ethical attitude of the artist-designer plays a large role in the ‘Field’. Social and cultural interests prevail over immediately demonstrable economic values. Connect with relevant stakeholders in the value chain: from raw-material suppliers and producers to retailers, end-users and recyclers. Materialized concepts can be tested in their intended context. Here the experiences of customers, clients, consumers or citizens are seen as an important and unique source of knowledge for the professional, which he can continue to reflect upon and anticipate throughout the design process. So interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary cooperation means not only that there is a connection between the various academic and/or artistic knowledge domains.
It is clear that these types of research do not lead to ready-made market solutions; however they do offer new perspectives and views on cross cutting strategies. As part of a University of the Arts, Future Makers specifically chooses not to focus on how to scale up or translate into mainstream products.
Future Makers is supported by the municipality of Arnhem and the province of Gelderland, who have made financial contributions towards innovation projects. The first projects to have been launched in this way through Future Makers are Closing the Loop, Virtual Sizing, and Composing the new Carpet.