Tinker, Tailor, Solder, Pi

In Mumbai, the Maker’s Asylum is a 300 sq ft basement space in Bandra, created for the maker community, a subculture of people who have a DIY approach to innovation. A shared interest in DIY had Vaibhav Chhabra and Kirti Shetty invest in this space in November last year. “We wanted to start a community where people would come and build stuff in the evenings and on weekends,” says Chhabra. Today, Maker’s Asylum is frequented by engineers, architects, designers and others curious to learn and create. Much of the maker culture in India was fostered on social media groups such as Maker Space Chennai and Internet of Things, but there’s been a lack of dedicated physical spaces. That is now changing.

Bangalore-based Pavan Kumar began Workbench Projects with Anupama Prakash in June this year. Akin to Maker’s Asylum, the facility, set up in a 5,000 sq ft space, stocks DIY tools, prototyping machines and holds workshops, with a focus on responsible innovation. “It’s an incubation space for ideas,” says Kumar, “It’s not just tech. We’ve had others on organic terrace gardening and basic maintenance of bicycles.”

Delhi Makers too conducts similar workshops, which recently included cardboard chair making. “We have designers and enthusiasts of different age-groups from 26-30. In our urban gardening workshop, we had couple of senior citizens too, who had kitchen gardens. Some made raised gardens, while others had hanging ones,” says Bablani. A six-member group, the Delhi Makers will have a 1,500 sq ft space near the Qutub metro station next month, which will facilitate the community to come together to tinker, experiment and make products that interest them.

An extension of the Maker Faire, which is held across the world, is the brainchild of California-based venture capitalist Asha Jadeja. “I was inspired by the effect Maker Faire California had on my children. I decided to fund an entrepreneur, who wanted to take Maker Faire to Africa. There, I witnessed the transformative impact of giving a platform to local innovators, garage tinkerers, who have other full-time jobs,” says Jadeja. The second edition of the festival is on January 10-11, 2015 in Ahmedabad.

In a country known for jugaad, the challenges to the maker movement are many, including funds and the dearth of practical learning in schools. Says Chhabra, “The focus has always been towards software. When people start considering hardware cool, creating will come easily.”

Carlos Williams

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Carlos Williams is the founder of DBC. An expert in brand design and implementation, Carlos leads the creative development of the visual identities DBC crafts. Carlos is the point of contact for most DBC clients, from large corporations to non-profits.