Adhocracy: exploring the evolution of manufacturing culture at the Istanbul Design Biennial

Open Structure Kids Toys project
OpenStructure Kids Toys project: Different designers were challenged to use the same modular piece to create different objects for this initiative. This sled was designed by Artin Aharon in collaboration with Thomas Lommée, using open source designed by Thomas Lommée and Jo Van Bostraeten
(Image credit: Artin Aharon)

As part of the inaugural Istanbul Design Biennial (opens in new tab), Domus (opens in new tab) editor Joseph Grima (opens in new tab) curated a large, sprawling exhibition entitled 'Adhocracy'. Billed as 'an exhibition about people who make things,' Adhocracy was also a portal into the ongoing debate about design, ownership, copyright, copying, and the evolution of manufacturing culture.

Located in the former Galata Greek Primary School (opens in new tab), a magnificent piece of neo-classical solidity, the exhibition replaces the sound of chattering school children with the whirr and buzz of 3D printing machines, the worker drones of a whole host of projected future micro-economies.

Grima brought together a selection of projects from around the world, focusing on designer-makers who are subverting the traditional structures of industry, taking production out of the factories and back into the workshop, using open source designs and strategies and the fast-evolving technologies of 3D printing and rapid prototyping.

In many respects, this story is an old one, a return to the days before the industrial revolution centralised production, taking control it out of the hands of the workers and setting up a hierarchical society that valued efficiency over skill. It's also an appropriate subject for Istanbul's debut Biennial; the city's millennia-old status as a bridge between east and west also sees how the passage of goods and labour flows around the world.

Swing, designed by Christiane Hoegner using open source parts

OpenStructure Kids Toys project (opens in new tab): Swing, designed by Christiane Hoegner (opens in new tab) using open source parts designed by Thomas Lommée and Jo Van Bostraeten

(Image credit: Christiane Hoegner)

OS Waterboiler: by Jesse Howard in collaboration with Thomas Lommée

OS Waterboiler: by Jesse Howard in collaboration with Thomas Lommée

(Image credit: Jesse Howard)

A selection of objects built using the OpenStructures design principlesmée

A selection of objects built using the OpenStructures design principles, including the OS Suitcase by Marijn van der Pol (opens in new tab) (left)

(Image credit: Marijn van der Pol)

Open-source architecture manifesto

Open-source architecture manifesto by Walter Nicolino and Carlo Ratti: This manifesto for open-source architecture was created for the show and posted to Wikipedia. The text is plotted by a wall-hanging robot and updated, live, as the page is edited and enhanced by the various invited collaborators

(Image credit: Walter Nicolino and Carlo Ratti)

Improvisation Machine by Annika Frye

Improvisation Machine by Annika Frye: Frye's 'machine' is designed to add a little unpredictability into the moulding of a polymer plaster object, using a domestic power drill to drive a rotating chassis which spins and shapes the objects as they dry

(Image credit: Annika Frye)

Imagine by Pedro Reyes

Imagine by Pedro Reyes: The Mexican artist Pedro Reyes has created an orchestra out of an unlikely source material: weaponry. Taking decommissioned guns from the drug-ravaged Mexican city of Culiacán, Reyes transforms the region's scourge into something with a raw, functional beauty. The exhibition included a striking live performance using the instruments

(Image credit: Pedro Reyes)

Imagine by Pedro Reyes

Imagine by Pedro Reyes: The Mexican artist Pedro Reyes has created an orchestra out of an unlikely source material - weaponry. Taking decommissioned guns from the drug-ravaged Mexican city of Culiacán, Reyes transforms the region's scourge into something with a raw, functional beauty. The exhibition included a striking live performance using the instruments

(Image credit: Pedro Reyes)

Imagine by Pedro Reyes

Imagine by Pedro Reyes: The Mexican artist Pedro Reyes has created an orchestra out of an unlikely source material - weaponry. Taking decommissioned guns from the drug-ravaged Mexican city of Culiacán, Reyes transforms the region's scourge into something with a raw, functional beauty. The exhibition included a striking live performance using the instruments

(Image credit: Pedro Reyes)

The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites

The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites: Thwaites' RCA project has enjoyed a good life, becoming first a book and now an exhibition showpiece. An exploration of the sheer complexity of day to day life, the designer's quest to create a simple toaster from scratch - mining, smelting, moulding and engineering every single component - didn't exactly revolutionise his breakfast routine, but it highlights just how much we take for granted in the modern world

(Image credit: Thomas Thwaites)

The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites

The Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites: Thwaites' RCA project has enjoyed a good life, becoming first a book and now an exhibition showpiece. An exploration of the sheer complexity of day to day life, the designer's quest to create a simple toaster from scratch - mining, smelting, moulding and engineering every single component - didn't exactly revolutionise his breakfast routine, but it highlights just how much we take for granted in the modern world

(Image credit: Thomas Thwaites)

Micro Air Vehicles by Marjetica Potrc

Micro Air Vehicles by Marjetica Potrc: This Potrc-curated collection of home-made MAVs highlight our increasingly surveillance-driven world and the strange artistry they engender

(Image credit: Marjetica Potrc)

Panthéon: Mode d'Emploi, by Les UX

Panthéon: Mode d'Emploi, by Les UX: The spectacular attic space of Galata Greek Primary School (where there's also a fine roof terrace) played host to a display by mysterious French troglodytes Les UX, who inhabit the caves and catacombs beneath Paris with their art shows, film screenings and under-the-radar cultural projects. A short film chronicles the secret restoration of the clock in the Panthéon, a magnificent act of reverse vandalism that flummoxed the French authorities

(Image credit: Les UX)

Panthéon: Mode d'Emploi, by Les UX

Panthéon: Mode d'Emploi, by Les UX: The spectacular attic space of Galata Greek Primary School (where there's also a fine roof terrace) played host to a display by mysterious French troglodytes Les UX, who inhabit the caves and catacombs beneath Paris with their art shows, film screenings and under-the-radar cultural projects. A short film chronicles the secret restoration of the clock in the Panthéon, a magnificent act of reverse vandalism that flummoxed the French authorities

(Image credit: Les UX)

RQ-170 Sentinel Drone Souvenir

RQ-170 Sentinel Drone Souvenir: The modern world is rich with irony; consider this 'presentation model' of a US surveillance drone, produced by the Iranian authorities to celebrate the destruction of the unmanned machine last December. One was allegedly sent to President Obama as a gift

(Image credit: Press)

Nile City by ETH Studio Basel

Nile City by ETH Studio Basel: This research project into the possible evolution of the vast Nile Valley explores the existing culture and conditions and suggests ways in which a vast, 900km-long 'city' might ultimately evolve as a hybrid of rural and urban conditions

(Image credit: ETH Studio Basel)

Nile City by ETH Studio Basel

Nile City by ETH Studio Basel: This research project into the possible evolution of the vast Nile Valley explores the existing culture and conditions and suggests ways in which a vast, 900km-long 'city' might ultimately evolve as a hybrid of rural and urban conditions

(Image credit: ETH Studio Basel)

Secondary Use Experiment by John Habraken

Secondary Use Experiment by John Habraken: A piece of design history, this famous set of Heineken bottles was created in the late 50s to transform the brewer's waste product into a functional commodity; a building brick. The WoBo (World Bottle) was built in relatively tiny numbers - just 60,000 - and the expected revolution in adhoc architecture never manifested, save for a modest pavilion in the grounds of Heineken's HQ

(Image credit: John Habraken)

Global Village Construction Set by Open Source Ecology

Global Village Construction Set by Open Source Ecology: More end-user action with this American-sourced kit for fifty essential pieces of industrial machinery. Why go to a manufacturer when you can download the plans, source the parts yourself and commission a local workshop to knock-up a fully functioning excavator at a fraction of the price?

(Image credit: Open Source Ecology)

Stratigraphic Manufactury by Unfold

Stratigraphic Manufactury by Unfold: Belgian design studio Unfold's project established a global network of designers and makers, using localised 3D modelling and programming to create ceramics that demonstrate local characteristics, with an almost unconscious reflection of where they were built

(Image credit: Unfold)

ADDRESS

Kemeraltı Cad. No: 49
34425 Galata
Beyoğlu
İstanbul

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Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.