It’s not often that a design firm has the opportunity to truly beta test a concept in the real world. And if it does, there’s perhaps no better laboratory for such an experiment than in a community of local makers who are ambitious, creative, and ever-curious about the materials at their fingertips. In short, this is the story of Indianapolis, Ind.,-based Ruckus Makerspace, a new 20,000-square-foot industrial space designed by Schmidt Associates where inventors, designers, artisans, photographers, craftspeople, and engineers can share equipment,
technology, and ideas to help launch their next creations.
Before the renovation could be completed, makers and artisans were signing up for memberships and chomping at the bit to move in, so facility owner Riley Area Development Corp. and Ruckus agreed to open a temporary space within the building based on Schmidt’s original design for the final buildout to accommodate the demand, according to Sarah Hempstead, CEO and principal of Schmidt Associates. As it turns out, having the makers create their own temporary space according to the original drawings was a blessing in disguise.
“For lots of reasons the space wasn’t ready for us to move in, and at the time, that was a disaster,” Hempstead explained. “In retrospect it’s been a great opportunity at a low risk to test, modify, work with, and see what works for the makers—and see what doesn’t. You really have the opportunity to fine tune before you finalize. That’s really cool.”
She explained that Ruckus is not designed for the casual, DIY artisan but rather is geared for those who are making a living with their crafts. As a result, Hempstead said programming was critical in that it needed to foster small businesses and provide an array of areas for a wide variety of makers, including individual office studios and shop workpods; shared space with work tables and equipment for woodworking, metalworking, laser-cutting, 3D printing, and sewing; a photography studio; and collaborative space for meetups and events for small gatherings, education, community groups, product pitches, and focal space.
Regarding materials, Hempstead noted that the design team deliberately chose products and finishes that would wear well and be familiar to the end users. “Our palette was coming from the base materials that our makers are using,” she explained. “Things like sealed concrete floors, exposed wood panels, steel panels, the textile wall—we were really trying to incorporate the final materials that our makers are using to craft the things that they’re doing but in their raw form.”
Most of the fixtures and finishes in the space were repurposed or custom pieces designed by some of the 29 makers currently part of the Ruckus community (a few of whom are highlighted here), which was intentional. Because at the end of the day, Hempstead said, it’s not about the building or the design, but about the business that’s taking place inside.
As a lifelong artist and maker in numerous mediums, Locke discovered a love for creating mandalas in 2007, inspired by the traditional Indian art form of mehndi and mehndi designs. Her work has evolved from applying henna designs on skin and then ink on paper, to carving
intricate designs onto wood, metal, leather, glass, and stone.
Michael Williams is the president of Calavera Tool Works, which in a little more than a year has developed and introduced a system-based line of storage gear in addition to a line of handmade leather work aprons. To round out his offerings to professional tradesmen, Williams’ new
company acquired Diamondback Toolbelts, maker of extremely durable professional work gear, in late 2016.
Australian singer/songwriter Martine Locke has spent the last 20 years touring the world, and love drew her to Indianapolis where, in 2014, she began The Handmade Society. Locke took her love of words and her love of leather cuffs and matched them together to create one-of-a-kind leather and copper cuffs that are made to order.
When longtime friends Shan Parker and Jarod Wilson began experimenting with cutting wine bottles, it only made sense to fill them with soy wax for candles. Shortly after seeing success from the candles, the business began focusing solely on scented products from the original candle line to body washes, bath salts, and more.
Photography courtesy of Schmidt Associates and Riley Area Development Corp.