CIS Open Design Report

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  • Report. Open Design. Creative Industries Styria. CIS 04,


Gerin Trautenberger:

'With regard to its content this publication can be divided into two separate fundamental strands. On the one hand it presents examples, applications, tools and models and, on the other, it introduces theoretical approaches and information on open design. The new design of the CIS.doc publication also aims at fulfilling the requirements of additional presentation formats such as iPad and Internet. Beside a theoretical part this reader also provides an overview of the present debate on the subject of open design. In addition to this it also contains a practical part, a cross-section of all current trends and projects using the open design method in their day-today work.

Moreover, our open design publication consists of four thematic blocks. The first block of articles (Manovich, Faßler, Walter, Russegger, Benkler) aims at ex-plaining altered processes with regard to authorship and the paradigm shifts related to this. Collaboration on the Internet requires new skills from all participants and entails clear consequences with respect to authorship, rights of use and sharing of works. Open source software and Creative Commons are attempts to simplify communication among creative people and to respond to present-day requirements by means of technological and socio-cultural changes. These multifaceted aspects are examined in the second block of articles. The contributions written by Medosch, Troxler, Trautenberger, Fluid Forms, Beckedahl/Götzke describe ideas and the use of open design at work as well as the newly cre-ated aesthetical forms of expression for designers. Open design and open source are not only tools and methods but have brought forth a clear and recognizable aesthetics, which is expressed by one‘s choice of the tools and materials.

Last but not least, we could win over Cory Doctorow to allow us to publish his essay “Love the Machine, Hate the Factory” in German language.

The third block, with contributions by Frauenfelder, Kadushin, White Elephant and presentations of wienett, garmz (fashion), crowdsourcing as a business model, Ponoko and Bre Pettis from Makerbot, and Evan’s graphic work, deals with projects and the tools and methods employed in open design, and introduces select Good Practice examples. These examples illustrate the bandwidth of the topic with contributions ranging from concrete application examples to business cases and discussions of various other aspects of open design. The fourth Part shows two examples where open design is used by designers. The Hackchair by Ronen Kadushin and the Balloon-lamp by White-Elephant are published under creative commence license (cc-by-sa) and can be used free by everyone.

This publication is meant to be the description of and a starting point for a new development which is still in its infancy today. The examples, theories and projects described herein still have to be negotiated and do not claim to be exhaustive or finalized. For these reasons we placed a great deal of value on inclusiveness when we selected authors, examples and projects and thus avoided exclusion."


What is Open Design?

Armin Medosch:

"This term has no fixed meaning yet.

Open design is a concept, a proposal. On the analogy of open source software this could mean: Give us insight into building plans and construction principles so that a new collaborative design culture can emerge.

Moreover, open source also means removing the barrier between consumers and producers. What motivates open source programmers is the fact that they use the jointly created programs themselves too. Thus the product “software” turns into a process shared by many – the programmers but also the testers, the authors of bug reports and manuals, in short, the entire lively community. In line with this open design might mean to free oneself from the notion of the product as an already finalized thing and to see design as an open-ended process. Already and 1968, such basic approaches to a new design culture were developed at the Ulm School of Design. Initially, the Ulm School adhered to the Bauhaus principle of the “Gute Form” (i.e. good form or good design), which expresses an object’s function. Yet from 1957 a new team under the direction of Tomás Maldonado from Argentina pursued a more modern and more radical program. As Maldonado’s colleague Gui Bonsiepe analyzed in a book which was published a few years ago, artistic creativity was not supposed to simply accept the existing world of products uncritically but to keep an eye on the bigger picture. What was called for was “social imagination”. Industrially produced objects are a product of social relationships and create themselves social relationships again.

Instead of modifying the outward appearance of a given product design can contain a social outline. Defined like this, open design questions the context a product is embedded in. Which raw materials are required? Which working procedures with which machines, which hierarchies and chains of command? How are the people involved in the process? And how do we eventually get rid of the produced things without any negative environmental impact? Of course, it would mean to overtax them to make the designers alone responsible for all these considerations. Maldonado and Bonsiepe saw them as team workers who moderate the processes.

Their dictum was not to put up with what was given but to “create unrest”. In this sense open design is a commitment to change the world. Back then the Ulm School of Design failed due to the narrow-mindedness of the funding authorities. Today both the technological and the social framework are much more favorable for the realization of such a program."

See also: []

More Information

Book: Open Design Now