New York City Manufacturers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

NYC makers show off their locally produced wares at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a manufacturing hub of its own.

There are several reasons to visit the Brooklyn Navy Yard—a site with a fascinating history in ship building that dates back to 1806—and one of them is to witness the future of maker culture. A fitting complement to the yard's New Lab facility, an 84,000-square-foot space that hosts local manufacturers and deisgn innovators, a new exhibition in BLDG 92, "Making It in NYC: The New Era of Manufacturing," features 30 New York design firms working across five industries. Energy & Resiliency, Furnishing & Home Goods, Tech & Media, Building & Construction, and Fashion & Apparel are represented by locally-made products ranging from desktop 3D printers, ballistic protective jackets, furniture made of wood reclaimed from water towers, and ergonomic baby spoons.

In the exhibition, designed by SITU Studio, the gallery walls are filled with interlocking hanging apparatuses made from aluminum composites that are folded and perforated to function as sculptural pegboards. This display schema presents the manufactured products in a way that is conceptually coherent, visually compelling, and adaptive for future installations. The common denominator for these displayed devices and furnishings is the hands-on approach to their design, which Bradley Samuels, co founder of SITU Studios, believes is important to emphasize. This, he says, helps destigmatize vocational lines of work. 

Samuels walked Dwell through the gallery space and explained the fabrication process for the presentation modules: scoring the back of the aluminum composites for folding, creating text with a router that penetrates the surface to the black polyethylene core, and forming the gridded perforations to accommodate diverse ways of mounting objects for display. 

The exhibition will be open through the end of the year, and BLDG 92 is also staging series of six panel discussions featuring companies in the exhibit, through the summer and fall. For an even closer look on the Maker Movement, sign up for one of several factory tours to see innovation in process. 

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