The Maker: The Design Bank

The Design Bank uses 3-D printing to produce future artists, not just plastic goods.

A bursting pipe was a blessing in disguise for entrepreneur Wil Marquez. The insurance claim allowed him to turn an abandoned bank on East 38th Street into his dream studio: the Design Bank, a community space with an educational mission. Marquez, a Latino from Northwest Indiana who’s vocal about minority issues here, keeps his door open—literally propped ajar—to students who want to learn about design and more.

Teens are fixtures at the workstations. “Some kids don’t thrive in traditional classrooms, but in this environment, where they can be creative and interactive, they realize skills they didn’t know they had, like designing products and ideas,” Marquez says. The studio, co-founded by NaShara Mitchell, teaches kids about business development by selling some of their refined designs (they share the profits), alongside objects printed from Internet files, including frog figurines, bracelets, and Venus de Milo replicas.

The Design Bank welcomes more than the young. Entrepreneurs have turned to the facility to make prototypes—a Butler Bulldogs koozie, a shoe insert to prevent toe injuries—without having to find a manufacturer. It might take hours for the item to form, but time is the best thing you can spend at the Design Bank.

In His Workshop

The Design Bank Makerspace

Wil Marquez’s makerspace introduces students and adults alike to 3-D printing, which melts plastic cording to form objects. The studio’s wares, including decor and doodads, will be available this fall in the pop-up Makershop on Mass Ave.

Buy It

3dprintedvase3-D-printed vase. $20. 3636 E. 38th St.,