Make Better Stuff Lab – favorite bits!

This fall I’m thrilled to be teaching a “Make Better Stuff Lab” at Ithaca College. In the course students will survey a brief history of American manufacturing through a sustainability lens, then imagine the future of American manufacturing by designing, manufacturing, and selling sustainably designed gifts at First Friday Gallery Night in December. We’ll be designing up at IC, sourcing FSC veneer from Certainly Wood in East Aurora, NY and small batch manufacturing and selling at the local makerspace Ithaca Generator.

For the course, I’m putting together some of my favorite videos about the good and bad of design and manufacturing and thought I’d share them here. If you have videos you think we should check out, then please post in the comments.


Two videos here, one by economist Juliet Schor and the other by urban activist Majora Carter. Both paint pictures of what the future might look like especially if we believe this: We don’t predict the future. We create it.

Juliet Schor, A Plenitude Economy

Majora Carter, Greening the Ghetto


Two videos here, the first by photographer Ed Burtynsky who has captured the environmental effects of mining and manufacturing in haunting photographs. The second is a video by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff from his book Life, Inc. He opens the book with a powerful story about being mugged in his neighborhood on Christmas Eve and the surprising, market driven responses he received from not one but two of his neighbors.

Ed Burtynsky, Manufactured Landscapes

Douglas Rushkoff, Life Inc.


We close with three videos by Industrial Designers who are reinventing how things are made. Yves Behar, founder of fuseproject, is on a mission to make sustainable design that is a joy to engage with. Jane ni Dhulchaotingh, founder of Sugru, makes a product that helps us repair or refit the products we already have. And finally Matthew Burnett, founder of Maker’s Row, connects designers with manufacturers close to home.

Yves Behar, fuseproject

Jane ni Dhulchaotingh, Sugru

Matthew Burnett, Maker’s Row

Some of the solutions in this last section might seem small compared to the overwhelming problems discussed by Burtynsky and Rushkoff. But I’d argue that this is how effective change happens: start by changing the small things that we can and building up from there. The road is long and we’re in it for the long haul.