Heck, let’s just say that 2014 is the Year of the Maker. (I credit David Lang for this idea.) Two thousand and thirteen was a perfectly good year for makers and I expect that 2015 will be a better year than 2014. However, 2014 will be the breakout year. One of the ways we can celebrate the Year of the Maker is to name a Maker of the Year — not just one but makers in a number of different contexts and communities
Oslo Maker of the Year
Jon Haavie and Roger Antonsen, organizers of Maker Faire Oslo, asked me to choose an Oslo Maker of the Year. While I don’t enjoy identifying one maker when there are so many who do interesting work, I think it was a worthwhile exercise to pick a favorite. I discussed my choice with the organizers and they agreed with me.
I had some simple criteria for the selection. I wanted to choose a person who was enthusiastic — a true believer, as Mister Jalopy once used the phrase, and represents the core values of the maker movement. I wanted to find someone who interacted easily with the public and engaged them in making. Also I looked for some aspect of originality in what the makers were doing — something that I hadn’t seen other makers doing quite the same thing way — or doing it as well. Others may develop their own criteria.
I announced the Oslo Maker of the Year at Saturday night’s Maker Dinner. I gave the award to Erik Thorstensson of Gothenberg, Sweden. Erik was demonstrating a simple, modular construction system he developed. I watched young kids and adults walk up and build a structure from straws that seemed to delight them. He is part of a network of designers called Creatables. Erik has boundless energy with a flair for showmanship.
Follow Erik on Twitter – @Creatables_Erik.
While I was talking to Erik at the Faire, I watched a young girl build a structure herself, happily putting the pieces together. The intensity of her effort and the joy of her accomplishment made me truly appreciate the system that Erik has created.
Erik was demonstrating Strawbees, an open-source design which uses a die-cut machine to produce small connectors, or keys. There are a set of variations of the basic key, and each has its own die. I liked that Erik would produce the connectors on demand and even let others use the die-cut machine to create more keys from the raw materials. Erik had also evidently thought about supporting science and engineering education using Strawbees.
Through 2014, in MAKE Magazine, online and in print, we will be identifying other outstanding makers and recognizing them. I’d like to encourage every Maker Faire this year to choose one maker each and let’s celebrate them.