W.I.R.E. _(_Web for Interdisciplinary Research and Expertise) is an independent think tank in Switzerland led by Dr.Stephan Siegrist, that engages global developments in trade and industry, society and the life sciences. Its aims are to critically consider our established ways of looking at things, to identify and clarify current trends, and to develop new concepts and ideas for the future. Based on an interdisciplinary approach to research, W.I.R.E. acts as a laboratory for the exchange of ideas and information between the worlds of academic theory and practical applications. It also provides a networking platform for players and thinkers from diverse spheres of activity and expertise. Their compendium, _MIND THE FUTURE, _summarises in a file-card format the most important developments in the economy, demography, society, technology, politics and ecology. Their tri-annual magazine, ABSTRAKT, seeks to grasp the challenges of our time by the roots and, in its search for answers, give the movers and shakers from a wide variety of academic and practical domains the opportunity to have their say. Along with sponsorship from Bank Sarasin, the Collegium Helveticum of the ETH (Federal Technical University in Zurich) and the University of Zurich, W.I.R.E. enjoys the support of an international board of experts, pioneering thinkers and decision makers.
Unknown Fields Division
"The Unknown Fields Division is a nomadic design studio that ventures out on annual expeditions to the ends of the earth exploring unreal and forgotten landscapes, alien terrains and obsolete ecologies.” It’s a fluid organization that is able to combine different groups of people for each new project. Unknown Fields Division also organized a “Under tomorrows sky think tank” that involved Bruce Sterling, Rachel Armstrong, Warren Ellis, Simon Ings,_ The Centre for Science and Imagination_, Geoff Maungh and Nicola Twilley,_ Next Nature_ and live sketching from Paul Duffield and Edouard Caplin. The think tank centred around the idea of alternate futuristic cities, ones that weren’t based on dystopian views but at progressive post-capitalist cities that combine the future with technology, biology and art. Unknown Fields Division has us intrigued as to what they will come up with next.
The Humblefactory is a design laboratory located in Seattle, Washington. Founder and facilitator, Dominic Muren, comments that ‘makers’ are not well supported, and in general, tools are made for giant capital and giant spaces whereas makers need specific, and smaller, tools. Therefore, The Humblefactory’s focus is on developing tools that “empower the cottage industrialist”. They have helped design and promote RepRap’s 3D printer that can print its own upgrades, Susan Lee’s bacterial cellulose fabric, and have even designed frameworks that explore new ways of putting different materials together. Another project they created, Alchematter, is a web-based community that allows makers to share ideas, tools and techniques. In this community, makers can discuss what needs to be made, in terms of new technology, and what is already possible to make so that it can be applied in their local context. Through Alchematter, Humblefactory embeds itself into the maker network by supporting makers through the design laboratory and the global web community.
BRIG AND STUDIOMATES
Two collaborative spaces that we love where designers connect and create: _BRIG _is the combination of two companies whereas _Studiomates _is a compilation of independent designers and technologists. Designers working in both of these spaces are very well-established and well-known in their fields. At both BRIG and Studiomates, they are able to start projects, services, products and create design fictions on their own and through collaborations. This results in furthering their ideation and involves other designers and communities at large in the creative process, which in turn brings collaborators and clients in for work.
BRIG is based in London and is the combination of BERG, a design consultancy that invents products and works with companies to research and develop their technologies by finding opportunities in networks and physical things, and Really Interesting Group (RIG), a design partnership that builds tools that connect the world and the Web with an expertise in publishing and the Internet of Things. Together they share an office space in which they are able to collaborate and refine their craft, or even host the occasional transient creative to power-up their projects.
Studiomates is located in Brooklyn and was created by Tina Roth Eisenberg, a designer and the creator of _Creative Mornings _and her blog Swissmiss. Comprised of independent designers that work both independently and in fluid clusters, they share the workspace, organize luncheons, events and even have parties together. We’re not sure what to envy more: the spectacular view from the studio, their ‘Studiomate Beer Fridays’ or the pristine white rooms.