Open Design Now
* Book: OPEN DESIGN NOW. WHY DESIGN CANNOT REMAIN EXCLUSIVE. By Bas van Abel, Lucas Evers, Roel Klaassen, Peter Troxler. Bis Publishers, 2011
a production of Premsela, Waag Society and Creative Commons Netherlands in association with BIS Publishers and available in selected bookshops or at http://www.bispublishers.nl/bookpage.php?id=190
"Design is undergoing a revolution. Digital technology is empowering more people to create and disseminate designs, and professionals and enthusiasts are using it to share their work with the world. Open design – the creation of products using freely shared blueprints and instructions – is changing everything from furniture to education and how designers make a living.
Open design is good news for the profession, a range of practitioners and scholars argue in Open Design Now: Why Design Cannot Remain Exclusive. The book provides the first survey of an emerging field that is reshaping design and the world.
In 15 essays, academics and professionals consider open design from numerous angles, tracing its roots, identifying the forces driving it, and peering into its future. They examine new business, production and educational models and delve into issues of copyright, sustainability and social critique.
Marleen Stikker argues in an introduction to the book that open design empowers individuals as “part of a growing possibilitarian movement,” giving us “all the instruments to become the one-man factory, the world player operating from a small back room.” The Erasmus University Rotterdam professor Jos de Mul suggests that digitization is turning designers into “metadesigners” of interfaces that enable users to co-design. Doors of Perception event founder John Thackara looks at open design as part of a new industrial system that can help us to overcome old industry’s harmful legacy.
The designers Ronen Kadushin and Joris Laarman and the Droog Design director Renny Ramakers reveal in interviews how they use the new model. And 21 case studies – of projects including the RepRap self-replicating 3D-printer and $50 Fab Lab prosthetic legs – show how open design is changing the world. The Visual Index uses hundreds of pictures to illustrate aspects of open design from the politics of copyright to the practicalities of making 3D objects.
Open Design Now sheds light on the new movement and makes one thing clear: design cannot remain exclusive. It’s essential reading for designers, businesspeople, decisionmakers, students and anyone concerned with the future of design and society.
The three Dutch organisations that conceived the book, Premsela Netherlands Institute for Design and Fashion (www.premsela.org), Creative Commons Netherlands (www.creativecommons.nl) and Waag Society (www.waag.org), represent three complementary perspectives on open design. Their respective emphases – design, sharing and innovation – came together in a natural way in 2009 with the launch of the joint (Un)limited Design project (www.unlimiteddesigncontest.org). The first (Un)limited Design Contest elicited a host of clever entries and led directly to Open Design Now."
"A new book from the Dutch publisher Bis, Open Design Now, includes essays, cases and visuals on various issues of Open Design. The book contains practical guidelines for designers, design educators and policy makers to get started with Open Design. It also includes a preface, contributed by me, that is reproduced here.
In 1909, Peter Kropotkin was asked whether it was possible to learn a trade so difficult as gardening is, from books. "Yes, it is possible" he replied, "but a necessary condition of success, in work on the land, is communicativeness — continual friendly intercourse with your neighbors."
Although a book can offer good general advice, Kropotkin explained, every acre of land is unique. Each plot is shaped by the soil, its topography and biodiversity, the wind and water systems of the locality, and so on. "Growing in these unique circumstances can only be learned by local residents over many seasons" the aristocratic anarchist concluded; "the knowledge which has developed in a given locality, that is necessary for survival, is the result of collective experience."
The biosphere, our only home, is itself a kind of garden — and we have not looked after it well. On the contrary we have damaged many of the food and water systems that keep us alive, and wasted vast amounts of non-renewable resources. One of the main reasons we've damaged our own life-support system is that we under-value the kinds of socially-created knowledge Kropotkin wrote about. Ongoing attempts to privatize nature, and the over-specialization of knowledge in our universities, continue to render us blind to the consequences of our own actions.
Open-ness, in short, is more than a commercial and cultural issue. It's a survival issue. Systemic challenges such as climate change, or resource depletion — so-called ‘wicked problems' — cannot be solved using the same techniques that caused them in the first place. Open research, open governance, and open design are a precondition for the continuous, collaborative, social mode of enquiry and action that are needed.
For centuries, the pursuit of knowledge was undertaken in open and collaborative processes. Science, for example, developed as a result of peer review in an open and connected global community. Software, too, has flourished as a result of social creativity in what Yochai Benkler has named 'commons-based peer production'.
These approaches stand in stark contrast to the legacy industrial economy — from cars, to power stations — which depends on a command-and-control business model and miitant copyright protection. The internet may have made it easier, technically, to share ideas and knowledge — but an immense global army of rights owners and attendant lawyers works tirelessly to protect this closed system of production.
The Open Design experiments you will read about in this book — such as the 400 fab labs now in operation — are nodes within an alternative industrial system that is now emerging. These are the "small, open, local and connected" experiments that, for the environmental designer Ezio Manzini, are defining features of a sustainable economy.
Open Design is more than just a new way to create products. As a process, and as a culture, open design also changes relationships among the people who make, use and look after things. Unlike proprietary or branded products, open solutions tend to be easy to maintain and repair locally. They are the opposite of the short-life, use-and-discard, two-wash-two-wear model of mainstream consumer products. As you will read in the book, "nobody with a MakerBot will ever have to buy shower curtain rings again".
Another open source manifesto states, "Don’t judge an object for what it is, but imagine what it could become." This clarion call is welcome — but it does not promise an easy ride for open design. Our world is littered with the unintended outcomes of design actions — and open design is unlikely to be an exception. For example, ninety percent of the resources taken out of the ground today become waste within three months — and it's not axiomatic that open design will improve that situation. On the contrary, it's logically possible that a network of fablabs could fab the open source equivalent of a a gas-guzzling SUV. The long-term value of open design will depend on the questions it is asked to address.
An important priority for open source design, therefore, is to develop decision-making processes to identify and prioritise those questions. What, in other words, should open designers design? All our design actions, from here on, need to take account of natural, industrial and cultural systems — and the interactions between them — as the context for our ceative efforts. We need to consider the sustainability of material and energy flows in all the systems and artifacts we design.
In reading the texts that follow in this book, I am confident that these caveats will be embraced by the smart and fascinating pioneers of open design who are doing such fascinating work. Crowds may be wise — but they still need designers." (http://observersroom.designobserver.com/johnthackara/post/open-a-survival-issue/26818/)
Into the Open
John Thackara portrays openness in general as a matter of survival to overcome the legacy of an industrial economy obsessed with control, and open design in particular as a new way to make, use and look after things. He calls upon open designers to take this responsibility seriously.
by John Thackara
"Openness, in short, is more than a commercial and cultural issue. It’s a matter of survival. Systemic challenges such as climate change, or resource depletion – these ‘problems of moral bankruptcy’ – cannot be solved using the same techniques that caused them in the first place. Open research, open governance and open design are preconditions for the continuous, collaborative, social mode of enquiry and action that are needed.
For centuries, the pursuit of knowledge was undertaken in open and collaborative processes. Science, for example, developed as a result of peer review in an open and connected global community. Software, too, has flourished as a result of social creativity in what Yochai Benkler has named ‘commons-based peer production’. These approaches stand in stark contrast to the legacy left by the industrial economy – from cars to power stations – which depends on a command-and-control business model and militant copyright protection. The internet may have made it easier, technically, to share ideas and knowledge – but an immense global army of rights owners and attendant lawyers works tirelessly to protect this closed system of production.
Open design is more than just a new way to create products. As a process, and as a culture, open design also changes relationships among the people who make, use and look after things. Unlike proprietary or branded products, open solutions tend to be easy to maintain and repair locally. They are the opposite of the short-lived, use-and-discard, two-wash-two-wear model of mainstream consumer products. As you can read in the book, “nobody with a MakerBot will ever have to buy shower curtain rings again”.
An important priority for open source design, therefore, is to develop decision-making processes to identify and prioritize those questions. What, in other words, should open designers design? All our design decisions, from here on, need to take into account our natural, industrial and cultural systems – and the interactions between them – as the context for our creative efforts. We need to consider the sustainability of material and energy flows in all the systems and artefacts we design. In reading the articles and case studies in the book, I am confident that these caveats will be embraced by the smart and fascinating pioneers of open design who are doing such fascinating work."
Why Design Cannot Remain Exclusive
by Roel Klaassen:
"Open design existed before the publication of the book, of course. But Open Design Now is the first comprehensive take on open design reaching from its roots, via its current drivers, all the way to its future. We have entered the era of design by everyone. The open design movement is changing the way we shape and experience the world around us. Whether you are a sceptic or a true believer, a business leader of an enthusiast, an aspiring talent or an award-winning professional, Open Design Now gives you the tools to position yourself among the pioneers of the phenomenon.
Basically it’s about ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Design (But Were Afraid to Ask)’. Of course I’m referring to the Woody Allen movie, a pseudo science fiction based on Dr. David Reuben’s sex manual.
I quote from Wikipedia:
“It was one of the first sex manuals that entered mainstream culture in the 1960s and had a profound effect on sex education and in liberalizing attitudes towards sex. It was the most popular non-fiction book of its era and became part of the Sexual Revolution ...”.
Half a century later, we have seen design entering mainstream culture. And this will change everything for everyone – but most substantially for designers, because they are professionally involved. Whenever I meet professional designers and the topic of ‘open design’ comes up, I come across uneasiness, opposition, anger or fear. Being educated as a designer, I can understand that, since there’s a lot at stake: the future of the designer, the future of design and moreover the design of the future. At the same time though, it seems the opposition is limited to the first aspect. Being also educated as a psychologist, I understand the discomfort among designers means they fear losing control over their profession.
In our view, this is a good thing. People are wise and well-equipped to create their own designs. But they can’t take responsibility for their everyday needs if the devices and systems that cause them are closed to their understanding. “If you can't open it, you don't own it,” as Makezine’s Owner’s Manifesto puts it.
By making the Open Design Book we intended to make a first open design manual hoping to influence education and the democratization of design. And moreover: becoming part of the Design Revolution."