GUK: Makers in Residence

Our newest Makers in Residence are the architectural practice GUK. We had a little interview about how things were going so far:

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

GUK is an architecture practice based in the south of Italy since 2011. It is also a laboratory where we design and create handmade products that embody our notion of design, through researching into materials and our surrounding environment. We started by collaborating with local artisans; we then realised that in order to gain more control over all aspects of the process, we needed to approach our profession from a maker’s perspective and build up our skills as makers, which is where Machines Room comes in. We have also experimented with making furniture for our clients and ourselves, testing out different materials like solid wood, glass and concrete.

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

We only started two weeks ago, but we are already learning a lot about the machines and thinking about small projects to try them out with. We experimented with the laser cutter to make stamps in rubber and wood that you can use to create all sorts of geometric patterns. We also used the 3D printer to make the stamp handle. Now we’re designing a coat hanger made of birds, using 3d modelling software, and cold mould casting.

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

Of course, this is the reason why we are here! We have found the community and all the staff open and helpful every time we have needed them. In just two weeks we have learned to use the laser cutter, 3d printer, CNC machine, and all the software that goes along with them. When we use these kinds of machines, our way of designing is completely different – we think more about the process from the beginning and how the machines play a part in that process. Also, as well as knowing more about the machines, we are approach final product through thinking about single components, rather than a monolithic idea.

What have you found most challenging?

At the moment Precious Plastic is probably the most challenging project for us in Machines Room. It is very hard to reuse the plastic in a smart and easy way, but we love challenges so it would be great to create a product with this recycled material.

What has been the highlight of the experience?

We are still new, but at the moment, the people who work here: it’s a perfect place to share knowledge and skills to develop your products.

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

We would like to start a business that brings together an artisanal, innovative laboratory with an architecture and design practice, to develop ideas and prototypes that become products. This idea is founded on the principle of teamwork and openness to different professions. The objective is create a network between makers, artisans and the broader creative community. In addition, a part of our research is dedicated to urban interventions whose materials and design support, for example, recovering empty spaces in urban areas through the activation of workshops and self-built processes for citizens, associations and local institutions.

JON SAUTO ARCE was born in Bilbao and graduated from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura of San Sebastián. He then worked in Barcelona, particularly on public buildings. Passionate about sustainable architecture, he loves to work using an artisanal approach, and so leads the GUK laboratory and our product development.

EMANUELA REALE was born in Catania and graduated from the Università degli Studi di Roma Tre. She then worked in Barcelona focusing on private buildings and exhibition spaces. A theatre lover, she has worked on the set design for a number of productions at Siracusa’s ancient Greek Theatre, and is currently collaborating with the Siracusa municipality in their Smart Lab, an incubator for smart city development.