This week we will have a chat with Holger Dielenberg from Space Tank Studio located at 9 Warner Street Coburg North PH: 0409 066 506

Holger please tell us about your business: The Makerspace - A new kind of smart factory providing artisans and designers with the right machinery, technology, skills resources and business facilities to ply their individual design businesses and creative practices.

It is a sustainable manufacturing model that supports individual high end design prototyping and low volume bespoke manufacturing which encourages skill sharing, development of business ecosystems and propagates entrepreneurialism.

As a direct challenge to the corporate model whereby many workers and machines serve one design purpose and funnel money from many into the pockets of a few; a Makerspace allows many workers to use a range of equipment to prototype and build many designs which spreads wealth and business opportunity evenly and creates a stronger base network for industry to grow.

AFA – How does it work?
HD –
It works on Membership & Partnerships, which means that we essentially provide membership access to a full range manufacturing equipment that covers traditional and technological techniques. We serve the maker community – which includes prototype making, from furniture makers/designers, industrial designers, knife makers, bicycle makers, 3D scanner and 3D printer tech start- ups, sculptors, fashion accessory designer/makers, leather makers, gadget inventors to theatre set and prop makers, café fit outs, lighting sculptors to name but a few.

AFA – that sounds like a great idea as a lot of smaller one man type of business don’t often have access to equipment. So what is the capacity?
HD – I am the director operator. We have 12 studios ( almost full) for full time lease and also have the capacity in our workshop areas and fabrication space to handle up to 15 members per day all making and building their projects at once.

AFA – Was the warehouse set up already?
HD - OH NO…It has been a mammoth task as it was an extensive renovation, which included insulation and skylight ceiling over twelve huge studios upstairs, building a self-contained artist residency, industry standard woodworking and metalworking rooms fitted out with full fume and dust extraction, sound insulation and OH+S compliance. A clean room housing our technology, a 3D printer and laser cutter and a fully sealed professional grade spray booth plus 180 square metres of open fabrication space equipped with compressed air outlets, storage facilities and mobile fabrication tables.

AFA – Sounds like a costly exercise?
HD - Yes it was but it is completely worth it as everyone l talk to is very excited about it. So if you include the cost of purchasing the warehouse, upgrading the amenity of the site and fitting out with woodworking and metalworking machinery, technology, spray booth and studios – In total I have invested $900K into this business
AFA - Wow!!
FA - You are obviously a big picture kind of guy, so what are the plans for the future? HD - (laughs) You are right l do have big plans and a vision to fill the studios, grow the membership base and form partnerships/allegiances with industry and government. Build our art/design advocacy strategy that incorporates a range of activity identified for makerspace capability. I have separated all of the plans under these headings with the ultimate goals of:
· Better alignment with technology / design
· Better links to training, TAFE & higher education
· Better connections to other partners etc.

Quarterly, Biannual or Yearly - Art/Design Event at Sanger Reserve (the strip of park land directly adjacent to Warner Street)
This would be a periodical showcase for local art and design talent and businesses. Can include guest artisans/designers showcasing special interest work, talks, food etc.
Seek Business/Financial support to run classes and workshops
Our existing industry sponsors, ThingLab, AlfexCNC and CIGweld are willing to assist in running courses with us on Laser cutting, 3D printing and Welding. CIG weld want to offer their own technicians to run welding courses.
Space Tank Studio Art/Design Residency
Our residencies are designed to give established and professional artisans the opportunity to pass on rare skills, true craftsmanship and emerging know-how in the time honoured tradition of mentorship and skill sharing. The residencies are three months in duration. Proposals will be considered on merit and the resident artisan gets full access to all of the studio facilities.
Project Grant program
Develop a fund to support artisans and designers who have unique or challenging art/design ideas by way of allocating one or two grants a year. These ides form part of a strategic advocacy plan that I am rolling out over the course of this year and will form the foundation of what I hope will grow into a solid community orientated structure to help raise the voice of Design thinking and Smart Factory type ideas. I feel that Australia absolutely needs to pull its socks up in this regard. We cannot dig stuff out of the ground forever!

AFA -That sounds fantastic but is there anyone else helping you establish this? HD – At the moment it is just me but as we (me) develop our courses and advocacy roles listed in ‘plans for the future’ we envisage we will employ an administrator who can manage our marketing needs as well as organising and running the courses and art residency, grant program and design fair as well as course teachers and workshop technicians.

AFA – Have you had any road blocks? HD – Before l started l did my research and it indicated that there is a huge hole in the emerging designer market and professional landscape. There is a complete lack of affordable access to professional equipment and machinery for designers and makers. There is also not enough understanding about how important and systemically integrated a well-run makerspace can actually be for industry. But you are right there are a few things that need to be done, like • Spreading the Word - Getting more people of influence from corporate and government sectors to understand how important it is to support our creative and design talent. These are the people who will go on to inform and contribute to diverse manufacturing and creative industry in our immediate communities.
Creating a business ecosystem for designers – Building a network of business connections. Specialist supplier directories. Avenues to more effectively link consumers with individual designers/makers. Links to design and business advocacy.
Support and sponsorship – Attracting heavyweight corporates who give back to the community who helped them grow. Supporting designers will give them business in the future.
That is why becoming a member of the AFA is so important because we have the same belief systems for the industry and the support network and connections you supply are second to none. I know that with the AFA doors will open that have previously been shut. Government bodies take you seriously when you are a member.