GCSE and above Free Activity

Lesson Plan: Be the CEO of your own ethical and sustainable company

In a time before mass manufacturing people would go to expert craftspeople to have things made for them; cobblers would make shoes, joiners would make furniture and seamstresses would make clothes. Each thing that was made would be a one-off and made just for the person who commissioned it. Mass manufacturing changed the way that people consumed. Suddenly people were able to purchase the exact same thing every time.

We often think about Henry Ford’s production lines first implemented in 1913 when we think about mass manufacturing but the idea of mass manufacturing started long before that. Along the way, examples such as Michael Thonet have helped play their part in shaping techniques and processes used. Thonet’s new wood steaming technique allowed him to cut out some of the costlier processes that would achieve similar results.

There is a hidden cost to today’s mass manufacturing; from sweatshop workers to mass factories.

Watch our curator Maria talk about how manufacturing has changed over the years

Things to do

Imagine that you are the CEO and Chief Designer of your own company. What will your company make? What will your company be called?

Design a logo for your company and think about how you can mass produce something but be fair to your workforce.

Share your logo and manifesto with the Design Museum on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the #DesignFromHome hashtag.

To read

Michael Thonet (1796–1871) worked out how to bend solid wood by steaming it and then stretching it around a metal mould. Thonet’s No.14 chair became the go to chair for restaurants, cafes and bars. Thonet’s chairs could be shipped in parts to the customer in a box that could hold 25 chairs. This made manufacture, shipping and overall cost effective.

Young Design Museum

Young Design Museum

See what other activities are available for young people as part of the museum's Digital Design Calendar.