Maryland is now home to two Fab Labs open to the public, Fab Lab Baltimore in Catonsville, Maryland and Montgomery College Fab Lab. What is a Fab Lab? A Fab Lab or fabrication laboratory is a laboratory space set up for designers to realize their ideas in the form of prototypes by using technologies usually available only to large scale mass production projects. The Fab Lab makes it possible for designers to use specialized tools such as 3D printers, rapid protoypers, printed circuit board milling and etching machines, and various types of cutters for sheet metal: laser, plasma and wet jet. There are currently 107 Fab Labs in the U.S. and Canada. The Open Works Maker Space in Baltimore City is planning the next Maryland based Fab Lab to open in September 2016.
The Fab Lab at Haystack Mountain School for Craft in Deer Isle, Maine is a premier example of the interaction between designer’s ability to make things by hand and using technology, one of the key policy goals of the Maryland Design Excellence & Innovation Commission. The activity in the Fab Lab at Haystack is the basis for studying and identifying innovations in both manual creativity and technologies. A more in depth case study is being written to explain how this interaction takes place at Haystack. Please check back for the rest of this story.
The outcome for the Maryland Design Excellence and Innovation Commission legislation in the 2016 Maryland General Assembly was not dissimilar to the 2015 Session. The exceptional panels who presented testimony opened the possibility of more understanding among the members of both the Senate Finance and House Economic Matters Committees. The bills have now been held over until the 2017 Session so supporters of the legislation within the design community can negotiate solid collaborative agreements, especially with Open Works Maker Space that is due to open this fall. There will be more opportunities to interact with Maryland Legislators to help them gain further understanding of the value of design for growth and the quality of life in the State.
The collaboration between Open Works and the Maryland Design Excellence & Innovation Commission will be a mutually beneficial arrangement, since the Commission is in need of physical space for prototyping, and the possibility that new products may emerge to be licensed and produced within Maryland. Similarly, Open Works is in need of professional design guidance to develop design research and design-based instructional programs to be responsive to people’s need for design training.
Periodic updates about summer briefings with legislators during 2016 will be announced on this website. Volunteers are needed to meet face-to-face with legislators in Annapolis or in the legislator’s home district office to speak with them in more detail about the necessity of design and its importance to innovation and growth in Maryland.
The 2016 Maryland General Assembly is now considering legislation for establishing the Maryland Design Excellence and Innovation Commission. This is the second year the General Assembly is discussing legislation to establish the Commission. Senate Bill 429 was introduced in the Senate Finance Committee on February 1, 2016, and House Bill 548 was introduced in the House of Delegates Economic Matters Committee on February 3, 2016.
The Senate Finance and House Economic Matters Committees are reviewing the legislation, and have heard evidence from the public about the mission, goals and efforts of Maryland Design Excellence and Innovation Commission. The Commission, which will meet several times a year under a five year design policy plan to be set by the members of the Commission, would implement design led innovation to improve the quality of life for all Marylanders. If established by legislation, the Commission would begin operating as of October 1, 2016.
Committee Bill Hearings The Maryland General Assembly held public Committee bill hearings on February 16, 2016 in the Senate Finance Committee and February 17, 2016 in the House Economic Matters Committee to hear statements from the public about the legislation. The Committee hearing can be viewed on-line through these links to the Maryland General Assembly website: Senate Finance Committee Public Hearing House Economic Matters Committee Public Hearing
Submitting Written Statements Written statements are still being accepted by Maryland General Assembly legislators, and can be submitted to legislators until there is a vote held on the bills in the Senate and House Committees. If you are able to provide written support for the legislation, the guidelines are available here for the Senate Finance Committee and here for the House Economic Matters Committee. The same statements should be made to both Committees. Text of the Senate Finance legislation is available here, and for the House of Delegates legislation here. A statement guide/template is available for the Senate Finance Committee here and for the House Economic Matters Committee here to use for composing a written statement. Anyone can submit a written statement by sending it to MarylandbyDesign at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Legislators about the Maryland Design Excellence Commission Legislation
If you are a resident of Maryland, contacting your State Senator and Delegates from your home district is one of the best ways to voice your views about establishing the Maryland Design Excellence and Innovation Commission. To find out legislators who represents you, go to the search page here and enter your home address.
There has been tremendous attention given to STEM education and the higher earning potential for degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math as compared to design. A recent survey conducted and published by the Washington Post reveals very little difference in earning potential during the first 5 to 10 years of a person’s career once they have earned a STEM degree versus a design degree, and in fact many degrees in the humanities (which would include design disciplines) earn more. The conclusions when making comparisons between a bachelor’s design degree as compared to a bachelor’s degree in science (biology), technology (information technology), engineering (electrical engineering) or math, shows an insignificant earning difference between a biological sciences degree and a design degree during the first 10 years of experience after earning these degrees. (Click on the graph to enlarge).
MarylandbyDesign is dedicated to improving the understanding of design’s impact throughout the State of Maryland. One way to measure this impact is through various data and index indicators. Since 2009, Maryland has used the General Progress Indicator (GPI) to measure various aspects of environmental sustainability which is a significant aspect of all design practices. The General Progress Indicator measures a different set of factors as compared to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Open Data Project provides another resource for measurement of design as a factor in the States economic growth related to innovation. One of the goals for the soon to be established Maryland Design Excellence Commission is to develop an indicator for how design impacts the quality of life throughout the State of Maryland which would be included in the State’s GPI.
In early April, 2015, Daniel Martinage, Executive Director of
the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) expressed
the full support of the legislation to establish the Maryland
Design Excellence Commission on behalf of the IDSA’s National Members.
The IDSA represents thousands of members around the world, across the United States and in the State of Maryland. The IDSA’s Executive Director stressed the importance of passing the legislation as an important investment in the current and future quality of life for all Maryland Citizens. He explained the extraordinary contribution of designers to innovations that in many instances are live saving, using the examples of medical equipment, child safety seats, computers, mobile phones and GPS.
Public procurement by local governments accounts for the world’s single largest budget dedicated to improving our communities – roughly $1 trillion annually in the U.S. alone. Despite this staggering potential, public procurement the world over is plagued by an opaque, confusing, and often impenetrable process.
In traditional procurement, companies bid to develop solutions prescribed by the city using requests for proposals (RFPs). Often, RFPs are loaded with specifications, terms and conditions, and legal clauses that make it almost impossible for small businesses or entrepreneurs to participate. As a result, most contracts are awarded to only a handful of large vendors who are well-versed in navigating a complex system. In Barcelona, for example a traditional $1.5 million procurement budget attracts interest from only 20 vendors. This leaves out a wide swath of potential sources of innovation and holds governments back from delivering services most effectively to citizens.
Citymart, a global organization focused on civic innovation has found a way to open up the government procurement process. They set out to replace the hundreds of pages of detailed specifications in RFPs with a simple problem statement and explanation of the desired result. With this problem-based approach, Citymart is able to help cities identify and frame community needs in a user-friendly RFP process. The bidding is then uploaded to the CItymart online collaborative open-source platform for anyone to access.
Citymart’s RFP process levels the playing field in public contracts for everyone from global vendors to social entrepreneurs, designers, and even residents. In Barcelona, a recent $1.5 million RFP published with Citymart attracted 55,000 citizens and entrepreneurs to deliver solutions to combat bicycle theft. The process not only helps cities deliver better quality services at lower costs, it also accomplishes this without increasing risks for the administration. Most importantly, it gets more citizens to engage directly with everyday acts of city governance, reinforcing transparency and accountability in the public sphere.
To date, more than 50 cities have adopted Citymart, including London, Paris, Barcelona, San Francisco, Fukuoka and Mexico City. Organized in a #citiesshare alliance, these partner cities work together with the aim to open at least 1 percent of their annual procurement through Citymart. By actively engaging vendors, communities, organizations and experts, Citymart’s innovation network creates an open knowledge resource for sharing across cities around the world, promising efficiencies by learning from the experiences in other cities.
The platform was recent awarded funding from the Knight Foundation, which will help Citymart expand its operations to the U.S. later this year. They plan to partner with four U.S. cities in adopting their problem-based and collaborative online procurement approach.
Ed McMahon, who holds the Charles E. Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC believes ‘place’ is more than a spot on a map. Place is “the unique collection of qualities and characteristics–visual, cultural, social, environmental–that provide meaning to a location.” And it is the uniqueness that makes a place worth caring about.
Yet all too often American developers forego this notion, favoring uniform sprawl and cookie-cutter developments in their plans for growth. We are now suffering the social, economic, and environmental consequences of those choices. Even with all of the technological improvements of faster computers, bigger cars, more choices, people still ask is this all there is? As America amassed enormous wealth and power, we are plagued with vanishing beauty, meaning, and sense of place.
In his talk at TEDxJacksonville, McMahon makes a compelling case for the economic, psychological, and social value of ‘uniqueness’ in our communities. He explains that this “community distinctiveness” is a critical component for economic success, equal to world-class infrastructure and a well-educated workforce. And this is especially critical as the shape of the world economy rapidly changes.
Wheareas the old economy was about making things, the new economy is about designing things. Markets and cost-sensitivity drove the 20th Century, but today place and values-sensitivity matter most. If “communities cannot differentiate themselves in a world where capital is footloose,” McMahon observes, “they have no competitive advantage.” He challenges us to consider how we might design our communities to be more distinctive, more livable, more beautiful, more connected for truly sustainable growth.
The Better World By Design Conference held in Providence, RI in September 2014 hosted a panel discussion about design policy in action. Three panelists from different design policy perspectives presented their most recent experiences of design policy development and outcomes: Moderated by Stephanie F. Yoffee, Design Policy Researcher; Carol Strochecker, Vice Provost, Rhode Island School of Design; Jeff Davis, Principal Planner, Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program; and Lynne McCormack, Director, Rhode Island Department of Art, Culture and Tourism.
The panel demonstrated an example of how a design advisory council might function as a State sponsored organization. The panel showed the importance of collaboration between member representatives from a private educational institution encouraging public/private partnerships in design and innovation, State Planning programs providing data-driven design processes, and recognition of state-of-the-arts/film/tourism activity as an important driver of innovation and economic development for the State. Previously, in 2013, a Design Lab Panel was presented at the Better World By Design Conference featuring panelists from The State of Rhode Island and Massachusetts including State Senator Louis DiPalma, Co-Founder/Director Lisa Carnevale of RIXDesign, and VP of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Carlos Martinez-Vega of Design Industry Group of Massachusetts.
To view the full length video, go to YouTube and see “Design Policy in Context Panel-Better World By Design 2014”
What can a design policy approach bring to the table that doesn’t already exist?
Many design driven projects, including those combined with research and development, result in commercialization and technology transfer of innovative technologies, products and services. This transfer provides a longer arc of economic growth within the State. Examples of design driven tech transfer include…
Can you provide examples of design policy in other States?Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, California have recognized the value of design driven businesses to produce products and services in transportation, technology and the built environment in their State.