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  • Make:Shift 2014. Photo: Tas Kyprianou

Make:Shift 2014

Make:Shift 2014 took place on the 20 and 21 November 2014 

A sold-out event, Make:Shift presented the work and practices of 51 speakers and experts.

Innovation in craft is nothing new.  Makers and artists have always experimented with process, material, tools and techniques. And they’ve always collaborated with other sectors.  What is new is the accelerating pace of innovation in and through craft. This is what Make:Shift aims to showcase, interrogate, stimulate and celebrate.

Craft is a dynamic term. It denotes both a sector and a complex set of ever-evolving disciplines. It speaks of active processes, material engagement and, as hybrid practices emerge, new values and perceptions. New technologies make sharing virtually frictionless, with collaboration colliding previously disparate knowledge bases. Evolution in tooling affords new material combinations and production processes.  And the independent movement of make spaces is putting power back into the hands of the population, educating, re-skilling, and driving engagement with making.

Make:Shift 2014 cast a spotlight on this space, its current occupants, future contenders, peripheral explorers and as-yet-unknown contributors. Through the lenses of materials, making and tools, it explored the dynamism and invention at the heart of craft.

The conference was divided into two main strands: panel talks and in-conversations. The panel talks were hosted by experts across the three themed areas, and the in-conversation sessions were short quick-fire intimate conversations with makers and specialists about their practice. Audiences were encouraged to move between the two spaces throughout the two days, ensuring they experienced a dynamic variety of content.

Each of the sessions are detailed in the drop down menu below, including documentary footage of all talks.

You can listen to the series of Making Conversations hosted by Bronac Ferran on Resonance FM in the drop down below and also see profiles on all of the speakers at the event.

Keynotes and Remarks

For the inaugural Make:Shift we invited academics Martina Margetts, RCA, and Professor Raymond Oliver, Northumbria University, and architect Ammar Mirjan, ETH Zurich, to come and present their thoughts on innovation, through both their own work and that of others.

The conference was opened by the Crafts Council’s Executive Director Rosy Greenlees, and closed by Crafts Council Chair Professor Geoffrey Crossick.

Conference opening by Rosy Greenlees, Executive Director, Crafts Council

Final summary from Mike Press, Zoe Laughlin and Daniel Charny, and closing remarks from Professor Geoffrey Crossick, Crafts Council Chair.

Theme 1 – Materials

Materials matter. They are the stuff that constitutes everything around us; from mountains to mugs, everything is made from something. With such a broad defining remit, it is understandable that the question “what is a material?” is more commonly understood as “what are materials?” - with generations of scientists attempting to categorise and understand the fundamental nature of matter in order to answer this question.

Given their all-encompassing scope, it is not surprising that materials are also the subjects of much examination by non-scientists. For example, practitioners from art, craft and design disciplines each have specific materials expertise and interests that lead them to experiment with materials and engage in a multitude of making activities. Be it a potter who works with a selection of clays and strives to perfect a type of glassiness in a glaze, a musician who converts the specific tonally qualities of a particular wooden construction, or an architect who uses plastic detritus to produce monumental assemblages, materials are at the heart of many practices and processes. Materials are in fact inextricable linked to process, for that which a material can or cannot do is at the heart of all making.

Materials Panel

Session Host:

  • Zoe Laughlin, Institute of Making


  • Dr. Sarat Babu, Betatype and Imperial College London
  • Mark Burrows, Heatherwick Studio
  • Professor Julia Lohmann, University of Fine Arts, Hamburg


Materials of Invention

  • Mark Champkins, Inventor in Residence, Science Museum
  • Dr. Mark Miodownik, Director, Institute of Making

Sonic Pattern and the Textility of Code

  • Dr. Claire Pajaczkowska, Royal College of Art
  • Dr. Alex Mclean, University of Leeds
  • Dr. Becky Stewart, Codasign


  • Amy Congdon, Material Futures, Central St. Martins
  • Professor Lucy Di Silvio, Kings College London

Please note that in the video clip of the Materials panel the Mark Burrows talk has been edited out on request of Heatherwick Studio. Mark’s contributions are still included in the Q&A session at the end of the panel.

Theme 2 – Making

Makers have always collaborated, whether to realise projects beyond their own capacity or skillset, to explore new avenues of enquiry to extend their creative knowledge, or more generally in working closely with their clients and customers.

Collaboration drives innovation through revealing new ways of thinking and new directions, and when cross-sector specialists collaborate the outcomes are often highly inventive and in turn push forward new boundaries within all sectors involved. Craft makers are increasingly contributing their knowledge of materials and process to projects within other sectors such as medicine and engineering, revealing the value of maker expertise as a key component of the chain of expertise.

Making Panel

  • Session Host: Professor Mike Press, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee


  • Lauren Bowker, T H E U N S E E N
  • Professor Roger Kneebone, Imperial College London
  • Fi Scott, Makeworks


Material Applications

  • Lizete Druka, Jaguar
  • Julia Bennett, Research and Policy Manager, Crafts Council

Making for Medicine

  • Gina Czarnecki
  • Matt Durran
  • Bronac Ferran
  • Dr. Karen Ingham, University of Wales Trinity St. David-Swansea
  • Rhian Solomon, sKINship

Parallel Practices

  • Celia Pym
  • Tamsin Van Essen
  • Karina Thompson
  • Thrish Nanayakkara

Theme 3 – Tools

This session will explore current and future thinking on the role of tools in 21st century production. The panel will reflect on the significance of the machines, devices and instruments they use or make. We hope also to deliberate if in the case of innovation, tools are nothing without skills and imagination.

Whether they are the basis of practice, the subject of a process or the outcome as product, tools are integral to innovation. This is by no means a new story. The questions though are whether digital and networked technologies offer any new twists? are new tools unlocking different types of concepts? and are they generating yet unseen aesthetic possibilities?

The making of tools has always been a sign of deep committed understanding of craft and production. The three speakers of this session all share this level of engagement in their creative work.

This seemingly object-centric theme hopes to capture the interdependency between makers and tools. It seeks also to include in the discussion our ongoing debt to preceding innovations. But also hopes to raise the importance of making, adapting and fixing tools as an innovative process that lies at the core of production.

Tools Panel

  • Session Host: Professor Daniel Charny, Director From Now On, Kingston University


  • Kirsty Emery, Knyttan
  • Gregory Epps, Robofold
  • Dries Verbruggen, Unfold


The Robotic Handmade

  • Grant Gibson, Editor Crafts Magazine
  • Gareth Neal

The Internet of Things

  • Gerard Briscoe, Queen Mary University London
  • Tom Metcalfe
  • Molly Price

The Digital Traditional

  • Michael Eden
  • Annabelle Campbell, Head of Exhibitions and Collections, Crafts Council

Sponsors and Thanks

Make:Shift 2014 was managed and programmed by Dr. Karen Gaskill, Innovation Programme lead, Crafts Council. The event was produced by Jane Saunders Media.

Crafts Council team:

  • Dr. Karen Gaskill, Curator and Producer, Innovation Programme
  • Annie Warburton, Creative Programmes Director
  • Rhiannon Lewis, Programmes and Research Co-ordinator

Graphic design, typefaces and visual identity - A2/SW/HK

PR - Four Colmann Getty

Special thanks to:

AHRC, Katherine Bond, Mark Champkins, Carole Collett, Matt Durran, Bronac Ferran, Nat Hunter, Laura Lillepruun, Andrew Prescott, Resonance FM, Laura Scanga, Claire Selby, Katherine Wood, session hosts Daniel Charny, Zoe Laughlin, and Mike Press, and all speakers, presenters and panelists.


  • KTN
  • Ravensbourne
  • G F Smith
  • Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851
  • Boundary


  • V&A
  • Institute of Making
  • RSA
  • Arts Council England

ResonanceFM Broadcasts

Making Conversations is a series that originally aired on Resonance104.4fm.

Episode 1: Professor Andrew Prescott, AHRC Digital Transformations Research Fellow, talks to Jon Rogers and Justin Marshall about how using digital technology playfully and creatively and treating it as a craft can humanise our increasingly technocentric world.

Episode 2: Curator Bronac Ferran is joined by Dr Karen Gaskill and Tiffany Radmore of the Crafts Council to debate challenges and opportunities at the leading edges of craft, medicine and making with glass artist, Matt Durran, Dr Richard Wingate of the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology at Kings, and ceramicist Tamsin van Essen.

Episode 3: AHRC Digital Transformations Research Fellow Professor Andrew Prescott talks to Ben James and Philip Serfaty from Jotta Visual Arts Studio with Katrina Hopewell from Indie publishing platform Blurb and writer/curator Bronac Ferran.

Episode 4: A series which explores how the worlds of data, craft and making are increasingly intersecting. Today: Susan Aldworth, an artist who explores embodinent in relation to science and medicine, talks to Stanley Jones CBE, master printer famous for his work with The Curwen Press; composers Neil Kaczor and Barney Quinton; and performer Bishi Bhattacharya.

Episode 5: Bronac Ferran discusses new models of hybrid publishing in the internet era with guests Doug Sery, Senior Acquisitions Manager for New Media, Games Studies and Design at The MIT Press; Professor Joanna Zylinska of Goldsmiths Department of New Media and Communications, author of "Bioethics in the Age of New Media;" and Ben Pester, Podcasting Coordinator at Goldsmiths. What are the new models in relation to business, knowledge and information-sharing which are influencing academic publishing today? Can we start to predict future trends? What needs to change, when and why?

Episode 6: Bronac Ferran talks to Luciana Haill,  neuro-feedback artist in residence at Department of Informatics, University of Sussex; Magz Hall, co-founder Radio Arts, Senior Lecturer Canterbury Christ Church University;  Dianne Harris, founding director and curator of Kinetica-Museum; and, from Rio de Janeiro, Mariana Manhaes, who makes organic machines with electrical elements and animatronic devices.

Episode 7: Bronac Ferran's guests are Tony White, novelist and publisher/progenitor of artists' book imprint Piece of Paper Press; his collaborator Dr Sanja Perovic, lecturer and author of "The Calendar in Revolutionary France"; and Chris Shaw, Research Fellow, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Sussex. What stories can artists and researchers tell each other - and who lets the public in?

Episode 8: On 21 November as part of the Crafts Council's Make:Shift:Do various projects across the city will open their doors to new visitors and participants. Bronac Ferran and John McMahon (Head of Learning at the Crafts Council) discuss the proliferation of these Maker Spaces - which encourage hands on, low cost access to tools and resources, as well as informal skills and knowledge sharing - with Jessica Mello of London Sculpture Workshop; Andy Merritt of Makerversity; Tom Lynch of South London Maker Space; and Ben Stopher of Elephant & Castle Maker Mini-Maker Faire.

Episode 9: Following on from themes explored in episode 8 of the series, John McMahon, Head of Learning at the Crafts Council, is joined for a discussion about maker spaces and the ‘Maker Movement’ by Irini Papadimitriou (Digital Futures team at the V&A); Elizabeth Corbin (Institute of Making & Open Workshop Network); and Andrew Sleigh (Lighthouse Arts, Brighton Mini Maker Faire and researcher for NESTA). What are these spaces, how have they evolved, and what is their potential to impact upon making, and the broader idea of shared endeavour within local communities?

Episode 10: Bronac Ferran addresses the growing involvement of artists, craftspeople and designers in medical research and development scenarios with guests Gina Czarnecki, Matt Durran, Dr Karen Ingham and Rhian Solomon.

Episode 11: Bronac Ferran focuses on Making Things Open (archives, collections and data). Guests are Mahendra Mahey and Ben O'Steen from the British Library BL Labs project, Julie Freeman of the Open Data Institute and Alf Eaton, who has been working with the British Library BL Labs and Sound Archive on ways of making the Resonance archives accessible and potentially available for creative reuse. What kinds of creative works have resulted from the recent openness trend with collections and data and what possibilities might arise in the future?

Episode 12: In the final programme of the current series, Professor Andrew Prescott of the University of Glasgow, AHRC Theme Leader Fellow for Digital Transformations, is joined by Dr Alex Mclean from Leeds University and Dr Becky Stewart of Anti-Alias Labs to explore how textiles, weaving and knitting are being reconceptualised, both literally and metaphorically, by computer code.


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