September means many things – the return to University, the appearance of Christmas goods in the shops, but also the London Design Festival, which gets bigger each year. With over 300 different events and activities in the 2014 Festival, the capital was awash with creativity and inspiration and we were delighted to be involved again this year. School Associate and Brighton based designer and interior architect Claire Potter was joined by final year BSc Product Design students in an event for London Design Festival with Fixperts and Sugru – spreading the word of design, and essentially, fixing, problem solving and hands on building as an integral part of the design process. And of course, how design interventions can make a real difference to peoples lives – on all scales.
Located in a gallery in Shoreditch, our team were part of the Saturday Market Project, which originally hails from New York but is now also now a London based, international group of designers and design enthusiasts. They collaborate with designers and makers across the spectrum of new materials, techniques and products, offering workshops for learning and selling products through their shop and events.
Claire ran part of the 3 hour Fixperts workshop and was assisted by Sussex Product Design students James Tod and Finn Wang – letting people know what Fixperts did, how anyone can get involved, but also making a couple of quick products that have sprung out of Fixing and Fixperts workshops, centred around problems with portable music.
It was a great afternoon and the team from Sussex soon had a room full of eager people for their workshop. After a bit of an introduction by Fixperts co-founder Daniel Charny, Claire spoke about the FixFilm created at Sussex with the team at the University of Sussex MTL and also got into teaching people how to create their quick ‘fix’ product – a headphone holder designed to eliminate tangled headphones made from everyday items, such as foldback clips, tape and wooden pegs.
Everyone made their own headphone holder to take away in about half an hour for a cost of pence – with many people altering the design slightly to suit their own tastes and needs. An extra clip. Glued together. Minimal. Decorated.
This was the key part of the project – quick solutions that not only solve the problem in a low cost way, but are altered to suit each persons requirements. By investing a bit of time and effort, the problem is eliminated, and the makers are more invested in the resulting product.
‘It was my first time getting to know about the Fixperts project and throughout the day I realised the idea behind the project is actually a purer and more sincere version of product design. It fundamentally fixes a specific problem people encounter in daily life with something we can all make with materials we can all find easily, and it encourages everyone to explore design thinking. I was very inspired by the event, and I believe everyone can make, create and be just as great in their own Fixpertise.’ said Finn Wang, one of the Product Designers from Sussex.
As well as the headphone holder, the Sussex team also grouped together to make one of the designs that originated from a Fixpert video – a simple needle threader using just three items which are now available to buy as a kit from the SMP web shop so others can also benefit from the open source styled design.
James Tod, the other Product Designer to attend from Sussex also found the event inspiring – ‘ I had a great day at The Saturday Market Project, and working along side Fixperts was a really eye opener for me into how to approach a problem – and design in general. The idea that everyone can benefit from a solution to an everyday problem and that all ideas were shared was refreshing. It definitely helped inspire more creativity within myself, borrowing and adapting ideas, and building fresh ideas for new problems. The social and open attitude was a brilliant was to discuss solutions with other designers and problem solvers, and to meet other create and inspiring people. Fixperts is a brilliant concept – definitely one I hope to see grow more and more in the coming years!’
It was another great afternoon of design, plus design that creates change and a hands on approach to problem solving. Which is surely what all design should be about? Positive change.
(photos by claire potter)