School of machines, making & make–believe

Fabricating Empathy

How can we create meaningful experiences using technology to explore the very, very distant corners of the universe? How can speculative exploration of outer space provide new ways of understanding ourselves? In this four-week program, we'll journey to explore possible future scenarios, crafting artefacts destined to capture, manufacture, and re-enact human emotions in space.

  • / 31 August - 27 September 2015

  • / four weeks, full-time in Berlin, Germany

  • / Based in ACUD Macht Neu Kunsthaus and FabLab Berlin facilities

  • / Only 6-10 participants accepted

  • / Deadline to apply: August 9

  • / For pricing info, see FAQ

The aim for this program is to enable a hands-on approach and creative exploration of digital fabrication, electronics and sensors.

This program is part of an on-going investigation and research project by London-based artists Andrew Friend and Sitraka Rakotoniaina called Very, Very Far Away which is set to be realised in April 2016.

Fabricating Empathy will emphasise the learning and use of digital fabrication and processes to examine how technologically mediated interactions can produce emotional and empathetic responses and how they could be repurposed to experience distant and even fictional territories.

Instructors previous work:

Benefits and what you will learn:

  • - Work shown during London Design Week**

  • - Prototyping as iterative design and development process

  • - Design, development and fabrication of physical mechanisms

  • - Integration of multiple materials and media to create interactive objects

  • - CAD design for fabrication: use of Rhino to develop 3D models suitable for manufacture with 3D printers, CNC machines, and laser-cutters

  • - Digital fabrication tooling, e.g. 3D printing moulds, jigs, etc.

  • - Basic programming using Arduino - motors, steppers, servos, sensors, LED strips, etc.

  • - Use and integration of traditional manufacturing processes alongside new technologies in creation of new objects/components.

  • - Experience with different materials, e.g. plastics, metals, rubbers, timber, etc.

  • - Presentation and communication of ideas to a wide international audience in both London and Berlin

  • - Final exhibit in Berlin

**This program will culminate with a Berlin - London public livestream event where students will have the opportunity to showcase, demo, and discuss their projects, learnings and challenges met over the course of the program. Our partner team at SPACE Studios in London will imagine scenarios, contexts and worlds materialised through video and performances in their own two-day plugin workshop based on our work here in Berlin. The event will be an evening conference, as part of the London Design Festival. In addition, there will be a final exhibit of our work here in Berlin.

For our Fabricating Empathy program we would love to find people exited about making. People who are ready to dream up new ideas of things yet unseen and who are ready to learn the skills to make these ideas come to life. Our topics are fabrication, empathy, and outer space, afterall. It's safe to say we encourage you to dream big!

Weekly Schedule Breakdown

I. Speculative design concepts, prototyping, beginning 3D modelling, training (laser cutter, 3D printing)

II. Developing design concepts, 3D modelling, beginning electronics / arduino / sensors, materials, training (CNC)

III. Continuation of week two, working towards final projects

IV. Development and fabrication of final protoypes, some prototypes taken to London, first livestream meeting about projects with Space Studios London, final show Berlin, livestream show during London Design Week


  • Sitraka Rakotoniaina

    Born in Madagascar and raised in Paris, Sitraka currently lives and works in London. He is an Artist and Designer whose body of works ranges from fictional science experiments to speculative objects and devices. His work explores our relation to science and technology, encompassing cultural and social implications, as well as the beliefs and values intrinsic to their development. With a focus on the possibility of transforming individual sensory experiences, Sitraka often uses the human body as vehicle to trigger people’s imagination.

    He ‘crafts’ narratives through the conception and fabrication of objects and uses their ‘aesthetic’ qualities and theatricality as the foundations enabling a physical form of storytelling. Sitraka studied Industrial Design and Graphic Design/Multimedia in Paris, and graduated from the Design Interactions course at the Royal College of Art. He has worked as an independent Interaction Designer since 2006 and is currently represented by Nexus Interactive Arts as a Director on their roster.

    His work has been shown internationally including venues such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Venice Architecture Biennale, Saint-Etienne design Biennial, the Art Center College of Design. And recognised through awards and publications including D&AD, we-make-money-not-art, Axis Magazine, See Yourself Sensing by Madeline Schwartzman, Design and Violence by the MoMA, etc.

  • Andrew Friend

    Andrew Friend is an artist and designer who’s work explores experience, and the relationship between people, landscape, and their desires. He is interested in the extraordinary, fantastic and desirable (or indeed undesirable) experiences and outcomes that may result from these interactions. His work spans a range of media, through narrative and drawings to large scale physical objects designed to promote, facilitate, and question these experiences, examining relationships between the known and unknown, the real and imagined in the individual quest to harness the sublime.

    Andrew holds an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art, London and is currently Associate Lecturer in the department of Spatial Practices, Central St Martins, University of the Arts London, and department of design, Goldsmiths College, University of London.