Crowdsourced Design

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Refers to websites that allow participants to design their own products, then produce it for them.


"Open design research: frogMob, developed by frog design, is a tool for crowdsourced design research, based on the idea that everyone can be a researcher for a day, just by paying a little more attention to the world around them. frogMob uses guerilla photography and stories to take a quick pulse on global trends, behaviors, and artifacts. Launched internally first – tapping into frog’s eight global studios – we are now expanding frogMob to a broader public. Through frogMob, we are able to “mobilize” not only our internal network around a specific assignment but also external contributors on an ad hoc basis, in a short amount of time (like a Flash Mob). frogMob allows us to provide lightweight, rapid design research for clients who ask for a “trend scrape” that identifies patterns and offers unexpected inspiration. The key here is to tap into existing knowledge flows - in a nimble way that does not require too much commitment from the participants and eliminates bureaucratic hurdles." (


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Massimo Menichinelli:

"Another renowned design and innovation consultancy, Frog Design, has started being interested in bringing mass collaboration inside the design process developing frogMob, “an experimental method of guerilla research”. This is clearly not a case of Open Design, but of Crowdsourcing: there is no real collaboration, but only challenges offered to any internet surfer (i.e. the crowd) that can then help Frog Design in developing design research of existing solutions worldwide.

- frogMob is an open, crowdsourced approach to research [...] frogMob gives us the opportunity to rapidly identify patterns across markets and geographies, and ultimately glean inspiration from unexpected sources.

frogMob is not about real etnographic research, but it looks just for “small adaptations invented by real people”: it began as an internal experiment, and now it is publicly open to participants. It seems like a business version of a Wikipedia of product hacking done by users: they’re not yet co-designers, but this is one of the first steps in that direction.

Incentives are very basic: you participate because you’d like to play an active role in Frog Design’s design process, engaging in a dialogue with Frog Design’s research teams, and then you can get your submission featured on the online and print magazine design mind. Submissions are voluntary and unpaid, and participants own the rights to their content." (

Open Ideo

Massimo Menichinelli:

“OpenIDEO 2) is a project launched in August 2010 by IDEO, one of the most famous design and innovation consultancies. OpenIDEO can be regarded as an hybrid between Crowdsourcing and Open Design, since they launch challenges to the online crowd, but later the process is collaborative. We must note however that the paradigm here is more Web 2.0 than Open Source: collaboration on OpenIDEO is only about voting, commenting and talking about the projects, in order to refine them and discard the less interesting, so that one winner will be chosen in the end. There is no actual collaborative design with an Open Source process. All concepts generated are shareable, remix-able, and reusable in a similar way to Creative Commons (though this means they’re not using Creative Commons), since participants own the concepts but grant a non-exclusive license to the Challenge Host for possible publication. Beyond that, organizations that partner with OpenIDEO on challenges may choose to implement the top ideas.

All challenges posted will be for social good, meaning that they won’t be used for commercial projects. In time, IDEO may use the same platform as part of their client work for closed challenges (that won’t appear on OpenIDEO). It seems therefore that it is for social and non-commercial goals now, but at the same time it’s a research about using the same approach (that is, more Open Innovation that real Open Design) to the commercial side of IDEO.

“They especially paid attention to the problem of metrics: how do we measure collaboration, the work of every participant and the state of the community? I will return on this issue in the future, since it’s critical for the development of Open Design and any open projects (and therefore of Open P2P Design, that enables them). For the moment, the approach of OpenIDEO is an interesting case:

- The Design Quotient (DQ) is a measure of your contributions to OpenIDEO. It corresponds to how active you are in the inspiration, concepting, and evaluation phases of a challenge. It also measures your collaboration, increasing every time you comment or build on other people’s inspirations and concepts. When you take part in a challenge, you build up your DQ by accruing points. A DQ can help to publicly identify your design expertise and strengths. Maybe you’re excellent at providing inspiration that shapes the conversation, or you’re great at building off of others’ ideas. Share it with your friends, colleagues, teachers, and even potential employers to give them some insight into what you’re best at. ” ((

Design for Download

Massimo Menichinelli:

"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’. (

More Information

Our entries on Crowdsourcing and Desktop Manufacturing

the crowdsourcing blog