Open design appears as one in a row of similar expressions of ‘open X’ – open access, open data, open knowledge, open hardware – most of which were coined in the early years of this century and modelled after ‘open source’ in software. They denote a departure from presumably ‘closed’ practices of dealing with academic publications, data, knowledge, hardware, innovation, and indeed: design; all key areas of the knowledge economy.
What are the principal drivers for this development? Is it merely ‘the digital turn’ – the shift from material to digital media, which has reduced the copying of design artefacts to a few mouse clicks, while bringing media production to everybody’s and anybody’s desktop? Or is there a broader underlying current at the core of a societal change that questions the fundamentals which our (Western, industrialised) society is built upon?
This paper traces these questions and relates them to open design. A preliminary conclusion is that open design has not yet achieved the level of maturity needed to develop its full potential in dealing with an increasingly complex and ambiguous social environment that is evolving beyond its industrial past – a contribution that particularly (open) design would be predisposed to make.
Best Paper in track 3, Social engagement.