Even with Maker Faires popping up in every corner of the planet, it’s still always exciting to see every first. This weekend, on July 9 and 10, the very first Maker Faire in Russia will be hosted at the National University of Science and Technology (MISIS). Organized by Fab Lab Moscow, the Moscow Mini Maker Faire will feature the work of 100 makers. What’s more, they have possibly the most adorable Maker Faire promo video ever:
We spoke with lead organizer, Fab Lab Moscow cofounder, and university professor Vladimir Kuznetsov to learn more.
Why did you decide to organize a Faire in Moscow?
I became an active member of the Maker Movement in 2012 when we started Fab Lab Moscow. About that time, I realized that the major global promoters of modern making are Make: magazine and Maker Faire. Since then, I’ve dreamt about bringing Maker Faire to Russia and to Moscow in particular. However, that dream might have remained a dream for a long time, if not forever, if we didn’t receive a good kick about a year ago. The kick was a grant issued by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that would go to whoever could organize and manage the first Maker Faire in Russia. We applied for the grant and we won.
Where will it be held?
We decided not to rent an expo pavilion for our first Mini Maker Faire and to use the university campus instead. Actually, the university is perfectly located: it’s within walking distance from the Kremlin, right next to a subway station, and near Gorky Park (the major central city park). We managed to arrange both indoor and outdoor sites with an overall size of more than 2000 square meters.
What other Maker Faires have you and the organizers attended? What were your impressions?
I’ve been following Maker Faires online and through communications with friends all around the globe, but I’ve only had the chance to visit an actual Maker Faire once. It was the first featured Maker Faire in Shenzhen in 2015. We were invited to take a part in another event in the same amazing city when we discovered that there was a Maker Faire happening right then. I was very impressed by the show, but meanwhile I also had the feeling that there was too much 3D printing and a lack of craft, fun, and rockets. Global networks are built of local communities, and I believe “the spirit of making” in modern China is quite different from that in the United States, Europe, or Russia.
Tell us a little about the maker community in Moscow and the surrounding areas.
The maker community in Moscow and in all of Russia is small but growing fast. Some time ago, the internet basically killed a lot of hobbies, such as ham radio or scale modeling, but now, with the boost from the open source ideology and digital fabrication technologies, the internet is facilitating a new wave of DIY. That wave is certainly coming to Russia.
Are there many hackerspaces? Will they participate in the Faire?
The quantity (and quality) of fab labs, hackspaces, and makerspaces in Moscow is growing fast, but keeping in mind that the city is a huge metropolis [population 20 million within city limits and another 16.8 million in the metropolitan area], I would say there are far from enough. I think almost half of all the exhibits at our event are from local fab labs, makerspaces, and hackerspaces. One of the major goals of the Moscow Mini Maker Faire is to unite the local community by mixing all those places and people together.
What has been the community reaction to the upcoming Faire? Is there a lot of support and enthusiasm?
We’ve received a lot of attention and support from those we didn’t expect and we received little or none from some we trusted in, but I guess it’s just normal. The positive response is way stronger than the negative. We expected 30 to 50 makers, but now we have almost 100. Isn’t that a way to measure the community’s enthusiasm? The community is just forming now, and we hope this first Maker Faire will help to make it stronger, bigger, and more united.
We wish the Moscow Mini Maker Faire team the best of luck and commend them on their efforts. For all the information you need to attend the Faire, including a full list of makers, workshops, and speakers, head to the website.