Creativity and Manufacturing: Where Do They Fit?

STEM-project“Our ambivalence towards factories is part of the reason why the loss of manufacturing jobs in the ‘90s was often met with a shrug. No one welcomed the collapse of industry, but in the midst of the dot-com boom we imagined something better. We didn’t get it. As a result, manufacturing advances lagged behind the remarkable breakthroughs in information technology. America’s industrial base migrated overseas. But now, a younger generation of entrepreneurs have started to emerge with bold ideas and an ambition to reinvent manufacturing.”

The above quote introduced an interesting article from FastCompany about the increasing drive of creatives in the manufacturing industry: How are artists, designers, and entrepreneurs changing the face of manufacturing? Take Bob Bland, fashion designer turned CEO of Manufacture New York, for example.

Bland recently received $3.5 million dollars from the city of New York to help create a 160,000 square foot facility with space for designers and an integrated factory. In other words, the melding of designers and manufacturers in one building may change the way factories look. Bland says that technologists and industrialists desperately need partners like her company: Brands like Apple only make the dent that they do because the design in the rest of the tech industry is so lacking. What would it look like if designers and manufacturers worked together, even physically in the same building? “That’s why we make sure designers are paired with every technologist: the aesthetic is respected, the engineering prowess is respected. Guess what? We have engineers too. They’re called pattern makers.”

You can read the rest of the article here, but the title really says it all: Can Creatives Help Manufacturing Reinvent Itself In America? We’ve talked on the blog before about whether or not adding arts components to STEM based programs seems as if it could be a useful venture, and articles (and companies) like this make a fairly strong case for why to do so. The world of creatives, design, and art is not as far away from technology and engineering as society often makes them out to be.

This means that art students need not shy away from STEM courses, and vice versa. Being well-rounded can only help a student’s prospects in the long run, and those who are passionate about art and crafting may be necessary to the future of manufacturing in America!

If manufacturing continues to persist with the image problem that’s been a part of its identity for so long, this might be just the thing to change it: Rather than ideas of dim, dark, dull factories and assembly lines, imagining a new world of collaboration and invention in the same factory space could make a world of difference.

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photo credit: Student finalists compete in scientific competition via photopin (license)