On Open Design

When we first launched Open Design City in May, I set out to explain Open Design, but not to define (as our understanding of such a concept should likewise be open):

"Open Design is design for the commons. Products that people are free to make, adapt, modify and build upon. The barriers to entry and access should be minimal. Open design products by their nature should be delivered in beta, perceived not as complete but continuously evolving, in dialogue with the user and the world."

I did not however seek to elaborate as to why Open Design is important. This I shall attempt to do below.

The most important aspect of Open Design for me is Access. Call me an idealist, but i'm of the opinion that no individual or business should have the right to prevent any human being from accessing the means to sustain their existence. AKA their right to keep on living. This restriction is a byproduct of the existing intellectual property system as well as the economic system it protects.

Open Design grants people the right to Access the technologies that can help them to sustain themselves. It removes a reliance on a service provider, instead focusing on the redistribution of knowledge, skills and processes, empowering people to meet their own needs cheaply and effectively. Such behavior, I feel is critical not just from the perspective of survival, but also critical to an individual's sense of power and ownership. To take responsibility for improving ones own environment. In countries worst struck by tragedy, poverty, famine and plague, adding reliance on a benevolent outside body does not help develop a psychology of survival (an issue explored in considerable detail by Tori Hogan).

But Open Design also holds tremendous value for societies less concerned with daily survival (who should maybe be more concerned with such matters). Below I have listed some of these aspects (elaborating only where I feel it is necessary) , which will have differing appeals for different social groups:

Emotional connection - building your own product connects you to the process and generates an emotional relationship to objects, countering a disposable attitude to the material world.
Empowerment - The ability to shape the world around you is an empowering attitude, the permission inherent in Open Design allows you to directly engage with the production of your product and understand the implications of it's manufacture.
Accelerated Innovation - Many minds make light work
Autonomous Collaboration - Open Design creates the opportunity to collaborate without concensus, we don't have to agree on the best path or course, but can instead be driven by our own egos and passions. By sharing the outcomes we are able to learn and derive benefits from each others action and learning without limitation.
Community Resilience - We have passed peak oil, yet at present our society is reliant on centralised provision of resources, Open Design is only one aspect of a distributed resiliant culture, yet one which can assist with the infrastructural and technological components of "lifeboat communities".

Open Design is not a new concept. In reality it's closed design that is new, with Intellectual Property only becoming a part of our culture over the last 200 years. However the myth of the designer is something strong in our psyche (especially in religious thinkers). Open Design is more akin to an evolutionary model of creation, the designer a catalyst, a spark of lightning or environmental influence.

Open Design as a concept, expands out in front of me, and there is more that I have yet to go into, to explore and describe. I encourage you to do likewise (shortly I will post a request and article from our philosopher in residence Camille to further provoke you). But my brief experience with developing a continuous Open Space - Open Design City, and the practice of Open Design we have been adopting, convinces me that Open Design represents a profound opportunity to empower people to take ownership of the world, and responsibility for improving it themselves.

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Happy Birthday Chris

Chris I pay you homage. You rock sir. Without you Open Design City wouldn't be the success it is. Every adventure, expedition, debate, dialogue, action and even "work" over the last year with you has been a genuine pleasure.

Long may it continue.

Thanks to Christoph and Alex for helping me with the Birthday Card of which this is the virtual part, and everyone at ODC who indulged me in the hopefully amusing rather than disturbing tribute below.

Much love


The Shared Library Workshop

MONDAY, 13th of September. From 7p.m We open the shared library! Come with books to share and you will receive some in exchange!

We are a lot to live in a nomadic way, with temporary houses where it’s difficult to let important things that you would anyway need everywhere you may go, like: your favorite or referential books!

A solution would be to set, in different coworking places, a series of “shared libraries” where these nomadic people we are can let their books and share them with the inhabitants of this place without being afraid of seeing them disappear and, at the contrary, with the pleasure to know that we may find other books interesting for us in exchange, here or in another library built in another city somewhere. We have ideas to start it, have found an interesting zone in front of the elevator of Betahaus, where you normally have nothing else to do then…wait! and have imagined a system of deposit and reliable loan that we would like to share with you this Sunday from 5p.m

During the “shared library workshop” we would explain you how to use it and start the construction of it all together!

So bring your books and your desire of sharing references and this project would start.

"Open Design City unterwegs"

Diese Woche war die Open Design City gleich in zwei Galerien zu Besuch: Am Donnerstag Abend im Direktorenhaus und am Freitag dann bei Create Berlin (noch bis 26. August).

Hier schon mal ein paar Eindrücke von dem Abend im Direktorenhaus:

[caption id="attachment_449" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="ODC im Direktorenhaus. Foto: Chris Doering"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_451" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="ODC im Direktorenhaus. Foto: VLP (www.vlp-designs.de)"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_452" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="ODC im Direktorenhaus. Foto: VLP (www.vlp-designs.de)"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_453" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="ODC im Direktorenhaus. Foto: VLP (www.vlp-designs.de)"][/caption]

Und so war´s am Freitag bei Create:

[caption id="attachment_491" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="ODC bei Create Berlin"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_496" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="ODC bei Create Berlin"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_492" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="ODC bei Create Berlin"][/caption]

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Our new DIY toy - a CNC router (self made by our resident Christophe Vaillant) combined with an oldschool thermocutter makes some nice styrofoam 3D letters!

Open Design City bei Create Berlin

Am Freitag Abend (den 13.) - einen Tag nach dem Lampen-Workshop im Direktorenhaus - entert die Open Design City für zwei Wochen den Showroom von Create Berlin!

Zur Eröffnungsfeier finden gleich drei Workshops statt:

  • Hanging Garden -Vertikale Gärten aus PET Flaschen
  • Metamorphosis - Lampen aus Pullovern
  • Albinoplast aka Plastic Playground

Die Teilnahme an den Workshops ist kostenlos - wer zu erst kommt, baut zuerst!

Ausserdem gibt´s Live Musik und kalte Getränke.

Open Design City @ CREATE BERLIN Showroom
13. - 26. August 2010

CREATE BERLIN SHOWROOM | Almstadtstraße 35 | 10117 Berlin


Open Design City zu Gast im Direktorenhaus

Am Donnerstag Abend ist die Open Design City zu Gast im Direktorenhaus. Besucher können ihre alten Pullover mitbringen und diese in Lampenschirme verwandeln. Dazu wird eine Mischung aus Speisestärke, Wasser, Essig und Glyzerin erhitzt und zum Aushärten des Textils verwendet. Die Lampenschirme müssen etwa 24 Stunden über einer Form trocknen und können ab Sonntag, den 15.08.10 in der Open Design City abgeholt werden.

Buy me or make me!

Fertige Lampenshirme werden im Direktorenhaus zum Verkauf angeboten.

Datum: Donnerstag, den 12. August

Zeitraum: 19:00 - 21:00 Uhr

Ort: Direktorenhaus, Am Krögel 2 (Mitte)

Pimping the Open Design City

So we've got a sweet space and community going on. We need to sustain it. We need to spread the word. We need to recruit more citizens and find some big money or lot's of little money.

This weekend we'll be having a "Pimping the Open Design City workshop" come along and:

Make some analogue posters, flyers, leaflets, graphics.

Talk about what ODC means to you, how has it affected you.

Construct a moving exhibition on the back of a bicycle

Target corporate sponsors

Create screen print shirts and merchandise for sale.

Make a Zine

Bring your own ideas about what we can do to share the space with the rest of Berlin and the World - and make it happen.

Hope to see you at Open Design City this weekend.

Material World

The exploration of the material world starts thursday, 5th of august, 18:00 h at Open Design City.

Cook your own Lampshade kid's workshop

Yesterday Chris Doering and myself were pleasantly surprised by the emerging design outcomes from a kid's workshop we did in Kreuzberg.

Working with refugee kids from around the world and some Kreuzberg locals, it was surpising how easy the workshop worked with a little show and tell (some kids only spoke Farsi) and a few words of German (probably the wrong ones with my language skills).

We go back again tommorow and will be posting the results here. We really got a kick out of this workshop and so did the kids, we learned a lot and tested the Open Design production process in the field.

We want to do more of this kind of community work, so please get in touch if you have a project you'd like us to contribute to. Contact me or Chris for details.

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ODC is open Monday–Friday from
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Free and open DIY nights:
Every Monday from 19h.

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