Open design comes of age (2), second of a series by Massimo Menichinelli

Massimo Menichinelli (original source here):

In a previous post, I started explaining that Open Design is now getting out of the underground, since many important design companies, institutions and sci-fi writers are now actively working on it. This does not mean that all the problems that we must solve in order to have a real collaborative Open Design are gone; it’s just easier now to talk about Open Design, since we have famous examples to show.
With this post I will show other important examples coming from the Netherlands (other examples will be shown in a third and last post).

03. A competition, Droog Design and a book, from the Netherlands

03. 01 (Un)limited Design contest

The first Open Design competition, (Un)limited Design Contest, was held in 2009 and 2010, in first instance in The Netherlands, in the second year also in Germany and Belgium. During the first year about 80 designs/products were submitted to form the first (Un)limited Design collection.
The competition has been organized by Premsela (who runs an interesting program about Open Design called People’s Republic of Design), Waag Society, Etsy, FabLab Netherlands and Creative Commons Netherlands.

To enter the competition, anyone could either submit a new design or make a derivative of an existing design submitted by others by using the machines in a Fab Lab or any other prototyping facility. For this reason, apart from the designs themselves, the blueprints and instructions relating to the submissions are also published on the competition website under a Creative Commons license.

As part of the festival Future en Seine 2011, Fablab Squared and Mag/Lab will host a French edition of the (Un)limited Design Contest (from 25th March until 29th May).
The contest received a lot of international attention currently, with requests for an edition in Austria and Brazil.

03. 02 Droog Design: Design for download

We can certainly say that Open Design is now mainstream if the most famous conceptual design company starts a business around it. This is the case of Droog Design, that with Mediagilde started the Design for Download initiative (previously called downloadable-design).

This initiative will be presented during the Salone del Mobile in Milan in 2011, but the launch of the platform, featuring various brands and institutions alongside Droog, will occur later this year. The platform will not only include products, but also architecture, home accessories, fashion, food, wearables, and more.
For the moment Droog will present furniture and accessories designed for download by EventArchitectuur and Minale-Maeda, including CNC cut tables, cupboards, desks, side tables, shelves, couches and 3D printed electrical outlets, flowers and charms. Furthermore:

Droog will also present digital design tools that allow ordinary computer users to easily make functional design decisions, automatically generating blueprints for local execution in various materials. The tools also enable communication between designer and customer, streamlining and lowering the cost of a custom design process. The presented products have been customized by Droog for its collection.

According to an interview to Droog director Renny Ramakers, this is not the first time that Droog considers Open Design as an option. In 2004, Mario Minale designed Red blue Lego chair, a Lego version of the iconic Red blue chair by Gerrit Rietveld. Mario Minale, originally wanted people to make the Lego chair by themselves, releasing the project as open source. Droog wanted to make it accessible for everybody, but since it was not possible to mass produce it due to copyright reasons, they produced it in a copy of 5 and it became an art project.

Renny Ramakers explains then that with Open Design:

With the opening up of the design industry to consumers now empowered with easy-to-access and low-cost design and production tools, the role of curation becomes ever more important.

For this project Droog Design have collaborated with consultants Cathal McKee (CMK1), Catherine Jasserand (Ivir), Hans Lensvelt, Institute of Relevant Studies, Joris Laarman and Michiel Frackers. The project has been initiated by Droog and was made possible by Agentschap NL.
Moreover, according to Waag Society, within their program called Open Design:

The Open Design Lab aims to make design innovation an open, collective and shared effort, as in open-source, open content and ultimately open design.

they are collaborating with Droog Design for this project:

The Open Design Lab also intends to build a database of open designs with Droog design under the title ‘downloadable design’.

You can read this related document from Waag Society also:

03. 03 The Open Design Now book

Related to the (Un)limited Design Contest, the Droog Design project and the collaboration with Waag Society, there’s another great example of the rising of Open Design: the forthcoming publication of the Open Design Now. Why design cannot remain exclusive book, edited by Bas van Abel, Lucas Evers, Roel Klaassen and Peter Troxler. It will be available from June 2nd 2001 and it will be published by BIS Publishers (further information can be found here). The book will be presented at the DMY International Design Festival Berlin this June.

The contents of the book will be:

  • Overview of Open Design: practices, tools, licensing systems
    As Open Design is a way of designing everyone can participate in, what are emerging practices that facilitate it? what are the tools, existing and needed, to make it happen (physical tools, digital tools, legal tools)?
  • Underlying principles of Open Design:
    Networked tools for distributed physical production, the understanding of the commons as an elementary resource for cultural production, etc.
  • Implications of Open Design:
    What effect does Open Design have on designing, artistic expression and creative processes? on the relationship of producer and consumer? on design business? on society at large?

(To be continued in a third and last post)

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