Behind the Scenes of OuiShare Factory: Interview with Justyna Swat

If someone has really understood the importance of one of OuiShare’s core values, Meet People in Real Life, it’s the person behind OuiShare Factory: Justyna Swat. Her vision for this unique meeting-point during OuiShare Fest is to bring together people that don’t normally get the chance to sit down and discuss common problems or join their efforts to put an idea into action or improve an existing project. Last night I got the chance to have a chat with Justyna in order to understand exactly what’s going to happen at the 120 square meter space dedicated to Open Source Hardware at OuiShare Fest: the OuiShare Factory.

So, to start: what is OuiShare Factory?

“OuiShare Factory is like a temporary fabrication space”, Justyna explains, “It’s a place where people can participate freely in both digital fabrication and discussions around common problems, and share ideas about ongoing and new projects.”

For beginners to the world of Makers and FabLabs, there will be demonstrations of laser cutters, 3D printers, and other equipment used by people fuelling what some call the third industrial revolution. All of this is made possible both through support by Castorama and through all the great people from the local Makerspaces Nouvelle Fabrique and WoMa, together with whom some material was pre-cut using their cnc milling machine. They will continue to provide their support also during the Factory itself, where attendees will be invited to help setting up the factory space itself, and actually make its furniture!

To get a flavour, below is a snapshot from last year’s construction of a WikiHouse, right outside the OuiShare Fest venue. As you can see, everybody is invited to join the fun!


What kind of projects are going to be presented and experienced at OuiShare Factory?

As mentioned above, in the morning of the first day, Monday May 5, the Factory itself will be set up during the co-creation session OuiShare Factory: Setup of the Pop-Up Makerspace.

The rest of day one will be dedicated to Open Design. At OuiShare Factory Workshops #1: Open Design, the co-founder of OpenDesk Nick Ierodiaconou, WIRfel founder Johanna Steuth and Justyna herself, together with her fantastic local team, will introduce how to construct open source furniture, and build furniture out of cardboard. In other words, attendees will experience how to move from the idea stage to creating concrete objects: how to make things happen.

In the morning of Tuesday May 6, Open Source Hardware will be linked with urban agriculture and small-scale energy production, and in OuiShare Factory Workshops #2: The Wiki Farm participants will be introduced to open source composts, windmills and learn to make open source beehives, as well as about the broader theme of peer-to-peer food. In addition to OuiShare’s own Justyna and Marc Chataigner, the moderators of this session include Peter Hanappe from P2P Food Lab, Jay Hudnall from Tripalium, Jonathan Mincin from Open Source Beehives and Valldaura self-sufficient labs, and last but not least Tristan Copley-Smith from Open Tech Collaborative.

The afternoon will be dedicated to open electronics, featuring workshops on Arduino and soldering held by Frédérique Jourdan from Snootlab, instructions for building a low-cost open source computer with Romain Chanut from Jerry DIT, together with other useful tools such as open source energy monitor for home use, or electronic sensors for P2P Food Lab and Open Source Beehive – Smart Citizen based monitoring system. All of this will happen during OuiShare Factory Workshops #3: Electronics.

Last but not least, on Wednesday May 7 Justyna herself is going to launch the 2014 edition of FabJam, a project connecting FabLabs from all over the world to make them work on a common topic.

To add these sessions to your schedule, see where it’s found in the overall fest program here.

OuiShare Factory:  where Makers meet

One crucial element of the Factory, I realise as we continue our discussion, will be the unique occasions for people to connect. The space will be set up in a way that facilitates encounters and discussions around important topics common for people engaged in the field of Open Source Hardware, like for example how to develop a great user platform, or how to deal with reliability issues. In practice, there will be tables with different colours placed around OuiShare Factory, and a blackboard where anyone is free to sign up with a topic or idea they would like to discuss, and invite others to join the table at a certain time.

“The thing is, it’s not going to be a workshop or round table”, says Justyna, “There will be no animators, no frontal lessons”. She thinks for a while, asking herself and me: “What can we call this thing?” then she adds: “It’s going to be like a completely organic and self-organised ‘Factorytalk’, and I really hope to see a lot of people joining these meetings!”

What Justyna really wishes to communicate to the diverse crowd coming to OuiShare Fest this year is to make the most out of this unique chance to be in the same place at the same time as people working on similar projects, or doing things you only ever dreamt about.

“The cool thing is that there are so many people who have skills that complement each other’s”.

Justyna knows what she’s talking about, with many years working in the sphere of making and currently involved both in the FabJam and working as a design assistant at the renowned Parisian design school ENSCI.

“Some people may have great technical knowledge”, she says, “while others may be great at communication or design. If these people get the chance to sit down together, not just crossing each other in the hallway, amazing things can happen.”

Finally, the OuiShare Factory will also be a great opportunity for companies to look for new talents, or to find projects to support and invest in either financially or logistically. Some companies are already actively involved, such as Castorama, who is committed to understand and support the needs of the Maker movement. As a DIY Retailer with a long history of responding to the demands of handymen, Castorama sets out to evolve in pace with the natural evolution of their business found in the collaborative economy, and engage with the maker community that will bring the OuiShare Factory to life during the Fest.

To put it short: OuiShare Factory offers something for most tastes. During two exciting days of learning, co-creation, and connecting, CEOs and business leaders from traditional industries will find all that they need to grasp about the maker spirit and emerging opportunities from the field. Those who feel makers inside them will find their pals with whom to discuss and dig deeper into the state-of-art of the makers movement. I seriously cannot think of anything that would make me miss OuiShare Factory during OuiShare Fest!

Thank you Justyna for introducing me to it. I look forward to seeing you there!