There was a session last Wednesday at N-House on the maker movement – people involved in building makerspaces and promoting craftsmanship, for instance – in Singapore. Quite a fascinating session, since most of the startups or new companies in Singapore are premised upon the “Internet of Things”, while hardware-based enterprises are not featured as commonly.
One of the more interesting points was on the lack of a maker or garage culture in the country, partly attributed to the proliferation of high-rise apartments (the lack of space, essentially). Of course the apprentice programmes in Japan and Germany were mentioned, and there was the subsequent observation that “Design and Technology” modules are not as ubiquitous here. My dad is the ultimate handyman, yet I have never learnt to handle tools – in school or at home – and cannot do basic maintenance around the house.
Was also reminded of an observation I had at a Finnish elementary school last year, where they had a workshop for basic carpentry and textile work: “the students take classes in arts and craft, music, as well as carpentry and textiles. Minttu [the Finnish teacher who hosted and showed me around the school] was particularly enthusiastic when she showed me the carpentry room, where students use saws and metal tools to carve wooden robots, stationery holders, and other paraphernalia”.
Read “Making It In The Maker Community“, and here’s a short excerpt from the session last Wednesday:
The lack of a do-it-yourself (DIY) or garage culture in Singapore – compounded by perceived stereotypes against blue-collared workers – has presented challenges for those in the maker community, yet against this background companies such as the social enterprise Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) have strove to reach out to more across the country. How many can fix a leaky faucet in the middle of the night, without risking high charges by (unscrupulous) service companies, or perhaps to even fix a blown lightbulb in the living room? “What we do may not be sexy, but because there is not much competition the market is open and immense”, Veerappan Swaminathan shared. Veera is the co-founder of SL2 (with the vision to build a sustainable future via a purposeful maker culture through makerspaces).
Makerspaces are community workplaces equipped with tools and resources, where individuals can gather to create anything and everything.
And there is appeal in craftsmanship and its accessibility. “When one steps into a research laboratory it might be hard to understand everything”, Soh Ju Hu – Head of XPC at Home-Fix D.I.Y. (a makerspace which facilitates the exchange of and collaboration on hardware projects) – explained. “One feels excited walking through a makerspace, with people making guitars, speakers, and art installations”, because these are items people can relate to.