As one of the leading thinks in the field, Peter lead a workshop with PhD students on the nature, restrictions and future of Open Design

Peter Troxler is well known in Fablab and Open Design circles and was one of the key people behind the excellent book¬†Open Design Now.¬†Peter and I had a long discussion recently about open source approaches as applied to the physical rather than software world, the role of Fablabs and the hierarchies that ‘elite’ designers impose on users. As the basis of a discussion with our PhD students we thought it would be useful to outline the 4 key challenges.

  1. Intellectual Property, we need to experiment with systems not dominated by vested interests of I.P. lawyers and we need to make this an area we can be creative in
  2. How can we work in non-hierarchical structures rather than hierarchical companies?
  3. Is design fundamentally about multiple production or processes that result in unique productions specific to the context?
  4. Are designers makers or people who are willing to explore new ideas?
These pose some pretty fundamental questions. One thing is clear we these key challenges are going to need some serious intellectual and practical engagement over an extended period of time to move this debate forward, on the way there will be many missed opportunities and experiments that don’t work (for example google Customatix). Equally, its probably the most exciting time to be challenging the design orthodoxy in the brief history of the design profession, many of us think designers could become like professional photographers, highly skilled and essential in some contexts, but just as we are all photographers, we should all be happy to be designers.