DisruptDisability: Makers In Residence

We were excited to interview Molly Gavriel, member of the DisruptDisability team, to get an update on how the project is going – it’s come so far since they started their residency at Machines Room!

Can you tell us a bit about your background as a maker, and your practice and areas of interest?

Interesting questions – I actually don’t have a background as a maker at all! I have a degree in History, and worked in the public sector before joining DisruptDisability and taking up the residency at Machines Room. I was introduced to the world of makerspaces by DisruptDisability founder Rachael Wallach. Rachael and I are working on a project to connect wheelchair users directly to the design and manufacturing process of making wheelchairs. So our interest is in how makerspaces can be part of this process of democratising design for disability, and enabling user-led design and manufacture.

Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been working on, and what you will be working on, at Machines Room?

We are exploring how wheelchairs can be manufactured via a distributed (localised) manufacturing network, e.g. in makerspaces. We’ve started by developing 3D printed castor forks and castor wheels to explore the possibilities of 3D printing for rapid prototyping and customisation. We’re now looking at how to develop an entire wheelchair, here at Machines Room!

Has having access to the machines, expertise and community at Machines Room influenced your work and practice, if so then how?

It’s been brilliant to be part of the Makers in Residence scheme here at Machines Room. Everyone is so supportive, from helping me get to grips with the machines to providing advice and feedback on DisruptDisability. I really feel like we’re part of a network, and I can’t imagine a better environment to work in.

What have you found most challenging?

Starting out as a complete manufacturing novice, it’s been really challenging trying to balance the time I spend developing DisruptDisability as a business, whilst making sure I have enough time to learn how to use all of the machines and do the fun stuff – actually making things!

What has been the highlight of the experience?

Meeting great people and learning something new everyday.

What is next for you now? Are you planning to continue this stream of work or start a new project?

I’ve recently been awarded the UnLtd Do It Award for DisruptDisability, so there’ll be wheelchairs at Machines Room for the foreseeable future!

Molly Gavriel graduated in 2012 with a degree in History before joining the NGDP, a local government graduate scheme. Machines Room is her first introduction into the world of making and makerspaces.