For its FabLab, thecamp go into partnership with Make ICI, a collaborative and supportive network of workshops which started with the ICI Montreuil FabLab, in the suburbs of Paris. Make ICI will open in a few month a huge satellite in Marseille. This opening will help to disseminate the “maker” spirit in the Aix-Marseille area. Corinne Chauffrut-Werner, Collaboration & innovation catalyst at thecamp, and Nicolas Bard, co-founder of ICI Montreuil explain us how thecamp will operate its FabLab.
How did this collaboration start ?
Corinne Chauffrut-Werner : I met Nicolas at ICI Montreuil. At the time, I worked for a big company and we had some workshops organized there. I always thought that the ICI Montreuil model was extremely virtuous, because it encourages the acculturation of groups, people or companies that seldom meet or mix with each others. It also preserves an entrepreneurial and a social dimension. When I joined thecamp project, working with Nicolas seemed obvious.
Nicolas Braud : It sounded natural indeed to start this partnership. Make ICI just entered a new phase of its development. We are expanding the ICI Montreuil model in a dozen cities throughout France. In Marseille, we'll open a 3000 square meter workshop in the beginning of 2018 (which is twice as big as the Montreuil FabLab). We'll be able to offer services that we can not provide in Montreuil, because of the lack of space. There will be an assembly zone for big prototyping, some shared workshops, different know-hows which are specific to the Provence area and the capacity to host start-ups.
Why thecamp needed its own FabLab ?
thecamp aims to have a positive impact on important issues in our society. Thus, having our own FabLab was mandatory. Thecamp will host entrepreneurs, artists, professionals, students, research scientists who will imagine together practical and positive solutions for our planet. We needed a place where those people can experiment what they imagine ! That's the goal of this FabLab : let our campers think with their hands and make prototypes out of their ideas.
Establishing a workshop at thecamp is an entry point in the world of “making”. Compared to other places, this one may look like quite modest. But in this case, size is not relevant, since this FabLab will work in cooperation with the ICI Marseille project and with our community of craftsmen, designers and “makepreneurs”, which total more than a hundred of know-hows. Actually, this limited size is an advantage, as we can shape the FabLab to what our campers need. It will be very simple to adjust resources and expertises accordingly.
I should add that we have deliberately chosen to have a FabLab with a limited size and capacity, because one of the goals of thecamp is to foster interactions among players in the Provence area. We expect our campers to go to Marseille in order to finalize or develop their prototypes to a larger scale. The richness of this network will help us to push some of those projects a little further.
Nicolas, why is it interesting for Make ICI to have an anchor point at thecamp ?
For many reasons ! First of all, we are very proud to be part of this project, since we share a lot of common values, notably regarding our desire to have a positive impact both on the human society and on the planet. For a more practical reason, ICI Montreuil always worked with large companies who where interested by our approach. With our unique community of makers, they can confront their projects to a totally different ecosystem, and thus develop original solutions. Regrettably, these are always one-shot projects. Here, at thecamp, we will work with multinationals on long-term projects. No idea will resolve the entire issues of urban mobility or renewable energy by itself . To be at thecamp is a chance to take part on elaborating long-term solutions. And this is really exciting !
Who will have access to the FabLab, and what can they actually do there ?
The FabLab will be opened to any campers, to residents and startups who will live on the campus, but also to companies settled nearby. It will be also opened to the operating team, so that, at some point, there is a skill transfer between thecamp and ICI to run the FabLab. A FabLab manager will accompany our campers to get familiar with the world of makers and help them create theirs prototypes. He will be also in charge of their training. On the opening day, campers will find 3D printers, laser cutting, diverse electronic equipments, and all the workbenches and tools required for prototyping.
That is why we collaborate with the Quincaillerie Aixoise (an Aix-en-Provence based hardware store) for our supplies in tools, machines and consumables. The Quincaillerie will equip both thecamp and ICI Marseille. It pursues an ecosystem logic, as we want that local companies benefit from our implementation. It also obey a flexible logic : it wouldn't make sense to get our tools from our suppliers based in the Paris area. It would add unnecessary processing delays, and we want to be able to act fast.
Nicolas, how did you come up with the ICI Montreuil concept ?
My wife and I used to work in advertising and finance, and we wanted a new life. We got our inspiration from the Bateau-Lavoir, a house in the XVIIIth district of Paris, which hosted, in the beginning of the XX th century, artists and craftsmen, with famous names like Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri Matisse, George Braque or Fernand Léger ! In the interwar period, Paris was considered as one of the most innovative city in the world, notably because of this unique collaboration between artists and craftsmen. That's what we tried to recreate, hosting in the same place entrepreneurs, artists, designers, architects, craftsmen and geeks, to let improbable synergies and new creative dynamics come to life.
Was it difficult to put it into action ?
Not really. Makers know how different skills, when they cooperate, can be an incredible creative source. It has been quite easy to gather a large community with very diverse know-hows. We just had to find a place, really. Thus, we want to gather a broader scale of skills. We also want to promote specific local skills. Makers from Marseille will have competences you won't find elsewhere, such as marine carpentry, naval construction or mastery in the scent field. Those skills will profit to the entire community, and to the campers, of course !