Design collaboration in Pittsburgh, Chicago

Design House, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that helps revitalize manufacturing through design, hosted their signature event, a Design Jam, in Pittsburgh last November. It was the organization’s first non-Chicago event.

Design Jam is “based around this idea that, essentially, when somebody—designer, a maker, entrepreneur—has an idea, they then look to see where they can have that idea made,” Design House board member Paul Hatch explained during his pre-jam presentation on the state of manufacturing dubbed ‘Design Matters’ to Next Pittsburgh. “What we’re about, Design House, is reversing that process. We actually start with the manufacturer and then come up with the idea. So there’s no shopping around. We’re designing for their talent, for their particular skills.”

Design House engages a local manufacturer, and local designers come together and collaborate to create production ideas utilizing the sponsoring manufacturers’ product. After the jam, Design House takes “the seeds of the ideas and further develops them, so that when manufacturers look at them, it’s something that can actually be done,” said Board member Tim Fletcher.

According to Next Pittsburgh the process then entails “working with a manufacturer to build the project and eventually embarking on a Kickstarter campaign.”

This kind of backwards collaboration is innovative, flexible, and inclusive – all attributes that the UMA champions in its support of the manufacturing renaissance in cities. Good luck to Design House in their expansion!