TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » Dominic Muren

Dominic Muren

Open manufacturing evangelist

Fellows Class:
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Dominic Muren

Professional Role

Current Titles:

Principal, Designer, Author, Lecturer

Current Organizations:

The Humblefactory, Alchematter.org, The University of Washington


Flickr Photostream


Dominic Muren -- Skin, skeleton and guts as a manufacturing solution

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Dominic Muren Explains Personal Manufacturing [320x240].flv

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Introducing the Humblefactory

The Humblefactory (http://www.humblefactory.com) is an experimental manufacturing lab founded by Dominic Muren in Seattle Washington. In this video, Dominic talks about the goals of Humblefacture, and some of the tools he'll be using to develop future projects. You can read more about the theoretical framework of Humblefacture at http://www.humblefacture.com. If this stuff sounds interesting, be sure to subscribe, rate and comment.

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The Humblefactory - Screen Printing with Coffee!!

Working in collaboration with Studio Matthews in Seattle, The Humblefactory is exploring a variety of environmentally sensitive printing substrates for a materials library at the University of Washington. This video is a finished method for printing graphics with a coffee+biopolymer ink on a burlap substrate. The burlap comes from bags used to ship the coffee to the roaster, so if the method could be perfected, the material would use two separate waste streams at once. The recipe for this material is adapted from GreenPlasticsNet's original video recipe found here -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M_eDL... . The quantities of material were quadrupled, but otherwise unchanged. The concept for this material is similar to Noriurushi(rice urushi) lacquer filled with Nihenji (middle coarseness whetstone powder). You can see an incredible demonstration of the preparation of this material on Maki Fushimi's impressive Fishimiurushikomo channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8lfp8... The Humblefactory (http://www.humblefactory.com) is an experimental manufacturing lab founded by Dominic Muren in Seattle Washington. You can read more about the theoretical framework of Humblefacture at http://www.humblefacture.com. If this stuff sounds interesting, be sure to subscribe, rate and comment.

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Dominic Muren's Humblefactory

Dominic Muren’s organization, The Humblefactory, champions “makers,” craftspeople who make up the cottage industries of the world. His online platform helps empower these makers, linking them up with markets through co-manufacturing and product design strategy.

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The Post-Industrial Designer and Open Manufacturing

design mind chatted with Pop!Tech 2011 Social Innovation Fellow and post-industrial designer Dominic Muren who founded The Humblefactory, a design lab in Seattle that develops tools and technologies that helps makers make more exciting things. Muren started Humblefactory when he became very concerned with the consequences of fabrication. His theory is that designers can’t make something fully eco-friendly without redesigning the manufacturing process. (i.e. you can make a briefcase out of bamboo instead of birch plywood, but the environmental challenges of the manufacturing process would be the same). One example he gave of retackling this process is from Eban Bayer who started a company called ecovative design that makes packing material out of mushrooms to replace the use of plastics or Styrofoam. Muren believes that if enough derivatives like that emerge, we’ll see a new type of local, specific, more contextually relevant.

Muren sheds an important light on the designer's place in the manufacturing landscape. He also introduces a new social platform that empowers makers to connect, share resources and ideas on open manufacturing.

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Skin/Skeleton/Guts Design Framework
02/01/2010 – 03/01/2012
The Skin-Skeleton-Guts design framework was created as a demonstration of how design for remix and local re-definition can be a powerful force in driving sustainable, locally produced, and more locally relevant consumer electronics. The modular electronic guts components can be both re-programmed and re-combined to create novel featuresets. These guts are protected using a simple 3d-printable skeleton -- with no screws, clips, or glues to fail. The skeleton is held together by an elastic skin of sewn fabric -- easy to repair, replace, or swap out for a new look. The Makerbot Watch SSG uses guts designed by TED fellow Bre Pettis, with an open source skeleton and skin, to make an entirely open source, replicable product. The SSG Tricorder uses open modules for the Arduino from Liquidware to create a simple, handheld computing device which can receive input from practically any sensor. Once day it could be a geiger counter, and the next, a greenhouse monitoring computer. It's skin and skeleton are flexible enough to accommodate these alterations. The project is ongoing, and will be pursued by The Humblefactory on a product-by-product basis. Currently, an SSG-based game controller ecosystem is under development, with the aim to create a design which can be remixed to provide controllers for any ergonomic constraint, including multi-finger amputees or quadriplegics.
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The Production Cycle
04/01/2011 – 09/01/2011
The Production Cycle is a bicycle portable tailor's shop, complete with treadle powered sewing machine. It was constructed to engage local consumers on questions about localism and manufacturing. In order to do this, The Production Cycle made trips to local farmer's markets (some as far as a 20 mile ride away). Using scrap sourced from local businesses, shopping bags were constructed and bartered with market guests in exchange for leads on new sources of scrap. The project was funded through a grant from 4Culture in Seattle, and was part of the aLIVe project to explore urban transport innovation. The Production Cycle is an ongoing project, and new "performances" are being developed all the time. If you are in the Seattle Area, and are interested in arranging a visit, let me know.
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Dominic Muren is founder and principal of The Humblefactory, a design laboratory in Seattle, Washington which develops tools and technologies that increase the capabilities of Makers around the world. Since his early career founding the popular industrial design blog IDFuel.com, and writing for Treehugger.com – dubbed “The Green CNN” – Dominic has been exploring the opportunities and consequences of how we make the objects we need. His most recent book "Green's Not Black & White: The balanced guide to making eco-decisions" has been reprinted in 6 languages. Since 2006, he has been writing about a new, open-hardware-based, human-scaled ethos for manufacturing at Humblefacture.com. In 2010, he was awarded a TED Global fellowship for his work on Humblefacture. In 2011, he was named a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow. His most recent project, Alchematter.org, is an online platform to host a global conversation about what can be made, and how to make it, in order to accelerate the development of open, distributed, community embedded manufacturing. In addition to his work at The Humblefactory, Dominic lectures in Industrial Design at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Vital Stats

Fellows Class
TEDGlobal 2010
Living in
Seattle, United States
Working in
Seattle, United States
Born in
Gilroy, United States



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Recent Blog Posts

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