An interview on Making with

Xanthe Matychak

Board Member, Ithaca Generator Makerspace

About Xanthe

Xanthe Matychak is a designer and educator working at the intersection of creativity, sustainability, and technology. She is the founder of Make Better Stuff, an organization that helps diverse groups of people solve complex problems. Xanthe serves on the boards of Ithaca Generator, a makerspace in Ithaca NY, and The Sustainability Conoscente Network, the organization that hosts the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technologies. She has shared her work at TEDx, SxSW Interactive, and World Maker Faire. Xanthe holds a MFA in Industrial Design from RIT and taught Design Thinking in the RIT Innovation Center and

What is Making?

I know that making is very broad. But for me, as an industrial designer, I'm interested in making that has the potential to disrupt mass production. Not replace it, but disrupt it. 

Who are Makers?

People who are exploring the potential that desktop manufacturing technology has on the design, production, sales, and distribution of products. 

Why is Making important?

The industrial revolution has turned us into a society of passive consumers. This has all kinds of negative impacts on the environment, economy, and culture. The maker movement has the potential to transform passive consumers into active makers. 

What is an exciting example of Making and why?

I’m super interested in the intersection of desktop manufacturing and craft. It’s important that maker products have a new aesthetic--that we go beyond copying 20th century aesthetics. Honestly, I think the folks on the cutting edge of this exploration are in fashion. They are at the intersection of art, commerce, and what these new technologies really afford. Of course all of the experimentation in the “remote patient monitoring” sector is booming too. 

How is Making transforming education?

I’m not sure yet. But I’m excited to see what happens when kids who are now learning how to program arduinos will be capable of when they are in college and beyond. I’m hoping they see themselves as creative and active makers of things that, at present, we normally just buy. 

How can Making change my community?

If there is public access to maker tech, then there is the potential for all kinds of folks to create passive income for themselves. Do they quit their day job? No. But can they open a little etsy shop and sell all kinds of cool stuff for extra dough? Yes!

How does Making solve big problems?

Mass production has created all kinds of problems for environment, economy, and culture. Making has the potential to get production and distribution right this time around. More targeted. More succinct. More meaningful.