A few weeks ago I went along to Dundee’s first Maker Speed Dater event. Maker Speed Dater is a concept by Scottish group Make Works – an online database of Scottish manufacturers informing designers and makers about local facilities and expertise around them.

Maker Speed Dater is essentially the physical interpretation of Make Works. Makers and manufacturers meet in a pub and spend three minutes talking to each other and explaining what they each have to offer, in typical Speed Dater fashion.

Dundee’s Maker Speed Dater was run in collaboration with Creative Dundee and hosted makers such as Roddy Matthieson who runs a metal foundry; Peter Ananin who started Skill Share Dundee and Ken Boyd from FifeX. There was quite a few of us designers from the Art College but also a few others like Ryan McLeod of Slurpp.

I was really interested to hear from the local manufacturers, such as a laser-cutting business and a museum exhibition design workshop in Fife, that I’d never heard of, despite living here for three years… but that’s what Make Works is about. We always think global, turning to Google before looking on our own doorsteps.

After the session, we split into groups and discussed what we’d gained from the event and how these insights fit into the bigger picture in Dundee.

One of the main issues my group spoke about was how can an outsider get quick access into our local economy of creatives? Dundee has such a condensed creative scene, which is great for those fully integrated within it but means that others can find it hard to gain access into the network and to feel its benefits.

This question then boiled down into through what mediums can we tell the stories of Dundee? Make Works illustrates that bringing many different manufacturers together in the same format is a very successful way of sharing information, can we expand this method to tell this wide range of stories we have in Dundee?

It was a fantastic event – really great to be in the company of so many genuinely interesting and unique thinkers and to be part of it and contribute to it. What I love about Dundee is that you’re able to speak face to face with these interesting people and even feel like you’re sharing something with them as well. Yet another reminder that bigger isn’t always better.

Thanks to Fi, Gillian and Mike for the fantastic event! Looking forwards to next time already.

Photography by Erika Stevenson for Creative Dundee.

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