Last year, Swedish Makers convened at the first ever Maker Faire in Sweden, hosted in Stockholm at Tekniska Museet (the National Museum of Science). This year, not only are the organizers excitedly putting together the second annual Stockholm Mini Maker Faire (May 9–10), but nearly 300 miles away, on the opposite coast of Sweden, another group of Makers are organizing the first ever Göteborg Mini Maker Faire (April 18–19).
While at the core, Makers worldwide all fundamentally value making things and sharing knowledge, it’s fascinating to see the unique local flavors of each country and region. So, what does the Maker Movement in Sweden look like? The birth and growth of these two Faires provides a great snapshot.
Let’s rewind. In 2012, a group of Makers in Stockholm, Sweden, who were forming a hackerspace named Sparvnästet, approached Nils Olander, curator at Tekniska Museet with an idea to co-host a hack night at the museum. Named Make All, the event took place on August 15–17 (two days and one overnight) and featured hands-on activities including lock picking, Arduino programming, origami, and synthesizer repair. There was free entrance for roughly 400 people, and it was the first event of its kind in Stockholm.
That same year, the Stockholm Makerspace was just being started, and the founders approached Tekniska Museet about the possibility of housing the makerspace in the museum. Though this wasn’t possible at the time for logistical reasons, museum staff became intrigued by the Maker Movement happening in the States, bought Make magazine, and attended the World Maker Faire in New York. As Olander recalls, “Two years later we were ready to host Stockholm Mini Maker Faire 2014.”
The intrepid organizers, led by Olander and Calle Ros-Pehrson, hit the ground running to get the word out and encourage Stockholm Makers to come out and share their projects. Since the community wasn’t familiar with Maker Faires, getting the word out involved a lot of social media push, as well as reaching out to key folks individually. They even convinced Mark Brzezinski, the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, to attend, help pick out the Maker of the Year, and present the award. To prepare for the Faire, Olander says, “We made a lot of bunting and road signs á la Make to give the ambiance.”
One of the key goals of any Maker Faire is to connect the Makers in the community and give them an opportunity to network and collaborate. The first years Faire was a success. Olander recalls:
We received a lot of positive comments from our Makers. Our friends at Stockholm Makerspace were very happy to meet new Makers, and the Makers who weren’t connected to makerspaces or other communities were happy to get to know people with similar interests, challenges, and ideas. Older engineers taught kids soldering, and radio amateurs helped the young cosplayers with their gadgets. A lot of new connections were made, and many people felt excited to get a chance to show their work at the museum.
Here’s a window into some of the faces and projects at last year’s Stockholm Mini Maker Faire:
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Feel-good moments ensued, like when one maker’s humanoid robot broke down and a group of 3D printer enthusiasts made him a new part on the spot. Multicopter makers connected with classic ham radio aficionados for help with radio frequency. One maker even scored a job at the Faire.
What do they have in store for the second annual Stockholm Mini Maker Faire and what are they doing differently? Olander says:
I would say the biggest difference is that we didn’t know anything about what to expect last year. We didn’t have a clue how many and what kind of Makers we would find, what they would need on site, etc. Now, we have lots of friends in the Maker communities. We also know more about how to make it a great public event, and we know they really appreciate that we are hosting this Faire. This year, we will try even more to find ways to get visitors to become Makers themselves, to break the barriers for getting started.
One big challenge for us is to get beyond the typical Maker communities (3D printers, drones, etc.). We had some of them last year (kombucha brewer, doll making, pickled cucumber recipes, etc.), but it would be wonderful to be a place for that kind of crazy mix between Maker disciplines, and to give them credit and a place in this very trendy but also welcoming Maker culture.
The 2015 lineup features a wide range of makers including Michael Wingård’s Injection Molding Machine for recovering 3D prints gone awry, 17-year-old maker Linus Backlund’s homemade Night Vision Goggles, and craft teacher Marcus Vildir’s hand-carved automata.
Their promo video features Olander himself, is hilariously inspired, and definitely worth a watch. Here’s the version with subtitles for those of us not fluent in Swedish:
Awesome backstory from Olander:
We have a great TV studio at the museum with a green screen and everything, so we thought we should make something fun with that, but without making it look too polished. That’s why we liked the behind-the-scenes thing — so that you can see we’re also just curious Makers, experimenting (not always successfully) with technology. And someone told us that all successful videos on YouTube feature cute animals, so we brought the chicken guy in at the end.
Across the country, on the west coast of Sweden, lies its second largest city (the fifth largest among Nordic countries), Göteborg (or Gothenburg), home to this year’s first annual Göteborg Mini Maker Faire. Curators Olle Bjerkås and Jasmine Lyman, along with project managers Angelica Borefur and Christian Westerberg, are busy preparing for the event, taking place this upcoming weekend, April 18-19. The Faire will be part of The International Science Festival in Gothenburg, which spans April 15–19, and has been held annually since 1997. With hundreds of activities hosted and 70,000 visitors expected, the Festival is the largest science festival in Sweden and one of the largest in all of Europe. The Göteborg Mini Maker Faire will be held outside, in a series of tents in Bältespännarparken park, along one of the main streets.
The success of the pop-up makerspace at last year’s International Science Festival was at the root of the inspiration for organizing the Mini Maker Faire. Westerberg says this year “With a larger, better-staffed makerspace and an exhibition event for Makers, the concept of a Maker Faire fits perfectly into the vision of the International Science Festival.” Local hackerspace Collaboratory and maker collective Fraktalfabriken will be creating this year’s pop-up makerspace at the Faire. Gothenburg Hackerspace, professional organization and workshop Konstnärernas Kollektivverkstad Göteborg, and Stockholm Maker Space will also be represented at the Faire.
They have a broad variety of Makers lined up for this weekend. Below are just a few.
How has the Göteborg community reacted to the upcoming Faire? Westerberg says,”Pretty much everyone who knows about Maker Faire and ‘gets the idea’ is enthusiastic, and people seem exited about exhibiting and coming to see it. For most people around here, though, the concept is unknown.”
We can’t wait to hear about how this inaugural event goes and what collaborations among the Maker community arise. May the the Maker Movement in Sweden continue to flourish!