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POLIFACTORY the university’s new Makerspace

04 March 2015 — 2 minutes read

I teach Product Service System Design in the Concept Design Studio and Industrial Design within the Product Development Studio. Together with Massimo Bianchini, I am head of the Open and Distributed Production cluster of the DESIS Lab network. I also coordinate a departmental working group which has developed the Politecnico di Milano Polifactory, which integrates a co-working space for the pre-incubation of talents with a research laboratory concerned with innovation in products and service and advanced production models and processes. My fields of research focus upon new production and distribution systems, advanced distributed microproduction, design-driven service innovation, design policies and policy design.

Making and self-production, what are they and how are they related to each other?

Making is an emerging phenomenon that is progressively growing and is now manifesting itself publicly, but which in reality is the telltale sign of a great change, of a transition in the way things are conceived, produced and distributed. It is a great transformation that invests not only the field of design but more generally concerns the processes of re-appropriation of making with approaches that range from the more technology-driven to the more design-driven sensibility.

There is a flourishing of new experiences and this signals a line of research for the future also for our University, namely the idea of investing in this field to imagine new models of industrial production. The changes in the way designers do business are grafted onto this. In fact, we are increasingly talking about designers-businesses, i.e. individuals who are neither businesses nor traditional consultants, and who take over all the phases and processes of producing products and services. These are essentially the new forms of self-production, i.e. the creation of goods through a complex technological and organizational system that mixes with the analogue and the handmade.

What is Polifactory?

Polifactory is the Politecnico di Milano’s new factory, which combines a co-working space, a machine shop and a flexible area that can host temporary training activities such as workshops and pre-incubation of projects. It is one of the advanced examples of experimentation with new models of advanced production. Bringing together the culture of design, of mechanical engineering and electronic and computer engineering to produce new visions and scenarios in product and service innovation.

What are today’s new spaces for making?

They are places in which basic research and technology combine with talent, creativity and human intelligence to create a new synergistic form of empowerment which is not the mere sum of the two fields but an augmented system which dialogues with intelligence and experimentation networks on a global level. An open place in the true sense of the word: connective and dialogical, at the same time tangible and capable of working on intangibles. Certainly a makerspace, oriented towards a human-centered approach with an eye to the issues of sustainability and social and environmental innovation.

What research activities are you developing on these themes?

We are imagining the creation of an annual challenge system to attract the best talents from the Schools of Design and Engineering to Polifactory, the most interesting projects from the High Polytechnic School and the Doctoral School, starting with Design. We want to bring people who want to mix creativity, technology and an innovative approach to goods and services to pass through here. Without distinction between teachers and students. Creating a unique environment for doing and learning.