Opendesk is a global furniture store with no inventory, no shops
and no factory. Furniture designs are distributed as digital files,
and made locally on demand by independent makers anywhere
in the world. A bench designed in Toulouse, for instance, could
be manufactured in Baltimore, and a bedside table designed in
El Paso produced in Rio for a Carioca apartment. It’s a radically
democratised and collaborative approach that challenges the
traditional manufacturing supply chain model by connecting
customers, makers and designers directly – cutting out various
middlemen, including now superfluous storage facilities,
shipping and showrooms.
Founded in 2013 by Nick Ierodiaconou, Joni Steiner, James Arthur,
Tim Carrigan and Ian Bennink, Opendesk’s customers include Nike,
WeWork, Google and Greenpeace.
The big idea: Open Making.
Democratising design was once about making good design
affordable to the masses. IKEA’s business and brand was built
upon this very idea – attractive Scandinavian design ‘for the many’.
Opendesk argues that democratising design today is not about
affordability but greater participation in the supply chain, from
independent makers, designers and citizens alike. Its ‘Open
Making’ model aims to encourage collaboration and the sharing
of information in order to allow resources to be managed as
effectively and efficiently as possible, for everyone’s benefit.
The emerging Open Making manufacturing movement is spearheaded
by Opendesk and the Vitra Design Museum in Rhein, Germany.
The movement’s manifesto reads, ‘Open Making can democratise not
only the design and manufacturing of artefacts, but also the design
of processes and organisations, which should also be documented,
visualised and shared.’ In true collaborative and open source fashion,
even this online manifesto is open to ongoing discussion and review,
with the community encouraged to submit and vote on alternative
suggestions as its principles and practices evolve.