Open Design offers an alternative to traditional industrial design education. Universities and art academies train designers to integrate into an industrial production scenario, and in order to do so, accept that consumer product industries are in a position to regulate creativity, design, production, consumer considerations and product development possibilities. Open Design on the other hand, bypasses this affiliation by offering the student an unbiased creative scenario, where ideas can be freely expressed, and production, in small or large numbers, is a key outcome of the design process. Moreover, openly sharing ideas, cooperating in problem solving and idea development among the course students, or by web communication with other students, regardless of geographic location, creates a sense of community, a social code of conduct that is similar in many ways to Open Source development practices, and “remix” and share mind sets within music, 2D design, video, photography and text content creators.
Open Design is a “grass root” design approach aimed both at web publication and CNC production. It is a design challenge that calls for an integration of all its aspects; functional, aesthetic, technical, material, production, and cultural, into an object that favors easy, quick and repeatable production. Students are rewarded with a functioning, full scale prototype, precisely manufactured to their design specifications. And since the design is native to the web, and is intended to be used by others, a new aspect of functionality is added: the usability of the design itself. This unique feature of Open Design highlights issues such as simplicity versus complexity, modification possibilities as a value, and technical and design transformation potentials into other products.
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