14 February 2014

Madlab Manchester 5

"My day at MadLab begins at roughly 9.45. We share an office with a short story publisher and an illustration company but as we all work odd hours I’m often one of the first to arrive. The heating in our building has two settings: ‘off’ or ‘boil your socks off’. I turn it on and quickly make a brew whilst it's still cool enough to enjoy hot beverages. I like to check my email first thing but as a lot of work is decided in impromptu meetings around the building I don’t spend a lot of time on email. As a rule of thumb, I spend the first half an hour planning and writing ‘to do’ lists. That can usually take a diversion onto Twitter and The Guardian but it’s always nice to ease in to things!

MadLab is a self-proclaimed ‘digital laboratory’. Our aim is to bring together people with diverse interests to encourage shared creativity and group learning. We also put on a range of creative courses (like projection mapping, WordPress and taxidermy) and play host to over 50 community groups. We’re situated in an area of Manchester that has more beards and desert boots per square foot than you could shake a stick at. Basically it’s pretty trendy. Here at MadLab the vibe is slightly more ‘geeky’.

We reside in a three-story former weaver’s cottage and the interior is what you’d (politely) call shabby-chic although we are working towards a complete refurb in 2014. We have stacks of petri dishes and piles of Raspberry Pi's alongside a bookshelf full of computing and coding books. There are two main spaces where our groups and courses take place and we all share the job of maintaining them.

As there is so much going on here and the team is small, my work differs tremendously from day to day. I’ll nearly always be working on some bits of writing; either for promotional material, our blog or copy for the new website, but I usually have odd projects running alongside that like the running of our community shop, Inventory. I’m not very good at sticking to a single task so when I’m at my laptop I have a lot of documents up at once. If there are other projects going on, I’ll take a break from the screen after lunch and get stuck in. My colleague and I spent the afternoon today practicing a project we are teaching at a workshop next week. It involved mini canvases, stencils, conductive paint and LED lights. Our first attempt failed but we’re fairly confident we’re going to pull it off. We’re good at thinking on our feet and at MadLab you soon learn how to improvise."

For more information about MadLab, please visit their website