I wanted to see how somebody who creates physical things can make a living on the edge so I spoke to Susanne Stauch, a product designer & goldsmith.
Susanne is selling her skills by the hour for jewellery or designs, trying to sell her own work in galleries and starting to use online platforms although she says that she needs to improve in that area.
She has been trying to survive this way for a couple of years now after finishing university in 2008 and small jobs come in – selling her own work is quite difficult – so Susanne is usually happy when she has something to do for others.
Although she has a website, Susanne considers the big thing is to be more interactive, have an online store for products and she’s investigating things such as twitter. She hasn’t considered the web as a place to buy jewellery but thinks it works – she thought people needed to touch and wear jewellery before spending – but that’s referring to expensive jewellery, which is what she learned to do – now she is switching to more affordable pieces.
The website isn’t an online shop, at the moment it’s only possible to order or contact by email, so it’s more of an online portfolio. She hasn’t connected the two worlds so far: Susanne uses internet but hasn’t sold via it although it seems to work on platforms such as etsy and is now looking at http://monoqi.com which does auctions of pieces by designers, which she considers to be “a nice approach as people like stuff which has been pre-selected… and they start to research you if they like you.”
Her diploma is in collaborative product design and she has studied mass customisation & open source. The question, she feels, is how to remain designers but share knowledge and designs? Uploading designs to be remixed is a strong opportunity and is the idea behind an event she is planning with Cookies’n’Code, called Create Your Own Future which wants to “bring together people from all kinds of backgrounds… to share skills, knowledge, ideas and needs and try to think about solutions and approaches of how we can live differently in the future and of how we can have more of this collaborative thought instead of competition.”
I asked her about an event in Berlin called makerplatz and she explained that the idea was that people could come and build their own things in a day with people who have planned & prepared it, so they get guidance through the process but they put things together themselves. It’s not something everybody wants to do everyday with all things but it’s a growing desire, to have another relationship with the objects they are surrounded by, in her opinion.
Create Your Own Future will be an ongoing thing – so many things happen on the web and people don’t really meet in the physical world so the idea is to bring them, with their ideas, to one place in the physical world so they can start to work and build and create things and from that, to build a community and a platform that can be working on the internet but new gatherings can be organised.
Making your own unique pieces is nice, Susanne feels, but she doesn’t need to do it and is much more interested in enabling people to discover their own creativity and possibilities, getting away from the “I can’t do this” and “I’m no good at this” into “let’s try it because it’s fun!” She continues, “we can build everything by ourselves and everyone can learn basically anything, probably not rocket science or medicine, within in a day but there are a lot of things that, if there’s the proper guidance and it’s prepared, people can really have a lot of fun and learn something and feel proud of themselves – the future role of a designer will shift from the taste giving specialist for an object, to much more design a process in which things can happen.”
(Full disclosure: Cookies’n’Code is a loose network of creative people in which I am now collaborating)