Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

CreativeMornings/London Interviews: Alice Taylor of MakieLab

Not Alice Taylor, but one of her dolls

Alice Taylor founded Makielab, a new toys and games company based in Shoreditch, London, in February 2011. Within their magic lab, they’re making a new kind of future-smashing toy: customisable, 3D-printed, locally made, and game-enabled.

This latest adventure came after nearly four years commissioning games, apps and web TV shows for Channel 4 Education.

Previous to Channel 4 Alice was VP Digital for BBC Worldwide (LA), and previous to that, the brains behind another start up producing Java entertainment software – avatars, forums, chat apps.

Alice is an avid gamer, an innovator and an admirer of the indie spirit, most apparent in indie games and web development. Alice blogs at Wonderlandblog, and her personal tweets are at @wonderlandblog.

Our usual interview is beyond the jump.

Alice Taylor will be appearing at CreativeMornings/London on Friday March 23rd -sponsored by The Sanderson Hotel and Sense Worldwide– at the Billiard Room at The Sanderson Hotel at 50 Berners Street, W1T 3NG. For more information and to reserve tickets, please go to the CreativeMornings London Eventbrite page.

Where do you go when you need to concentrate?

Our workshop back room. There’s a sofa, and it’s self-contained. I’m fond of little coffee shops, too.

Is it about what you know or who you know?

Always both! Can’t dispense with either, don’t even try it.

What’s been the most pivotal point in your life thus far?

Having a kid. Supremely life-changing in many ways. I feel like I’ve had/I am two lives, in some ways.

Do you think there’s enough discourse between disciplines?

Never, ever enough. Even close disciplines – like games development and internet development, say – don’t talk enough, let alone cross-pollination of something less related. I don’t know if there’s a solution per se – it’s usually the result of overwork and not enough time to go browsing around another discipline – but it does mean you see many of the same ideas, mistakes and successes repeated and repeated.

Can you teach innovation?

Of course! You can teach anything. You can learn anything. “Will I be any good at it” is another question entirely, and I suspect that one comes down to some combination of neo

Dollar or Yuan?

Dollar. I am immensely impressed with China, but it’s a while yet before they overthrow the Dollar’s mental image of the Most Powerful Currency In The World: even if it technically isn’t, the whole world /thinks/ it is, and that won’t change for a while. Also, I’ve been to China. It’s messy.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Of course not.

Negative or positive freedom?

No idea. The Wikipedia page is making my eyes glaze over.

Ideal holiday?

Snowy mountains, mulled wine, some kind of fast downhill transport, sunburnt nose.

Can you draw?


Can you draw us a wave?


Individual or state (or both)?

Both, but the state should never impinge on civil liberties. EVER.

Favourite LP?

Ever? What. I don’t know. Flash Gordon by Queen :-p

Last book read?

Homeland, by (disclaimer!: husband!) Cory Doctorow. And it’s not out yet. That’s a bit hipster isn’t it. Before that: all 5 books in the Game of Thrones series by George R.R Martin – that one’s a rabbithole.

The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Look both ways before crossing the road”, and “Be nice to people”. I find the busier I get, the more distracted or more of an arse I become, so I try to remember the second bit of advice well, with some but not complete success – to my shame. I’m really really good at crossing roads, though.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are?

You know that thing, “do what you love”? It’s really key. I always wondered, “but what do I love”, and often thought the answer had to be something like “drawing”. But it doesn’t. I really really love videogames, games, play, and toys. I really really love nerds, and comics, and science fiction. I have spent a lot of my life working in and around broadcasters, which is odd, because I don’t really really love television – but for a while I was needed there. I guess it’s given me a broader perspective on stuff than a pure-career would have, so I’m sure it’s all good, and perhaps why I feel able to do a startup that a) crosses disciplines and b) hasn’t quite been done before.

In a nutshell: do what you love, be a neophile, don’t be afraid to try something different, always help new talent.


Category: CreativeMornings/London


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