Reflections from the Bali Fab Fest

What we learned at a global convening of maker educators

Each year members of the more than 2,000 worldwide Fab Labs gather to share, discuss, collaborate and create communities around the different local and global interests regarding digital manufacturing, innovation and technology. The 2022 edition of the conference in Bali, Indonesia in October. Remake Learning members Sarah D’Urzo and Jenny Lent traveled to Bali to represent Southwestern Pennsylvania and present on their work to integrate fab labs and simulated workplaces at IU1.

Two women give a presentation on stage at the Bali Fab Fest

We caught up with Sarah to share more about their experience in Bali.

What was the conference  all about?
The conference was called “Bali Fab Fest.” It brought together global networks of digital fabrication, green technologies, and digital innovation together with Bali’s local innovation ecosystem under the theme of “Designing Emergent Realities.”

The goal of the conference was to bring fabricators from around the world together to explore meaningful applications of local and global knowledge to address some of our communities’ biggest challenges.

What did you learn while attending the conference?
The Bali Fab Fest provided those in attendance with a unique opportunity for in-person, meaningful connection with other local and global changemakers. We were able to participate in hands-on workshops, open forums, maker spaces, and themed events designed to enable mutual learning through problem solving.

While at the conference we had the opportunity to experience how the Bali Fab Lab is keeping their culture alive while also introducing new and emerging technologies to students. The workshop focused on implementing digital fabrication on traditional fabric, such as the Balinese batik cloth, to enhance global wisdom. The Batik is a centuries-old technique where craftsmen will apply wax to cloth in lines and dots and then dye the material to create a patterned effect. This technique was used in the workshop but also included 3d printed stamps that could be used in the wax to create traditional and modern designs.

Throughout the workshop we were able to learn more about the Balinese culture and how they are keeping tradition alive and passed down to the younger generation through digital fabrication. It was a truly unique session to learn how creating fabricated pieces can be tied into traditional craftsmanship and got us thinking of how this project could be replicated in southwestern Pennsylvania.

What was your favorite moment or experience from the conference?
During the conference one of my favorite moments or experiences was the Fab City Inauguration. Gathered were local government officials, community members, and the fab conference attendees in a newly built amphitheater (made of bamboo and completed in 3 months!) in the Bali Jimbaran HUB.

The announcement of Fab City, which proposed a new model to the Fab Network of transforming how we produce and consume materials, was great however the experience of the event was even better. We got to experience a traditional Balinese performance, hear from community members on how digital fabrication can change their community, and the closing remarks were from the Governor. It was inspiring to learn and hear how they plan to grow together within their community and their country using technology and the resources around them.

What one key takeaway can you share with the Remake Learning Network?
One key takeaway that I would share with Remake Learning is to try. The world is filled with different kinds of people – people who look differently, talk differently, think differently, believe differently – who are working on the same challenges that you are passionate about. This was true of the conference in Bali, and I am grateful we had the opportunity to attend. We met so many different educators, artists, and fab community members from all over the world and some we even met along our travels.

The takeaway is to meet as many as you can and learn as much about them as you can. You will be richer, more aware, more thoughtful, more empathetic, and more loving. Take every chance you are given to learn and explore something new.