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Currently I am undertaking an internship in Utrecht, Netherlands with the renowned design team consisting of Tejo Remy + Rene Veenhuizen. Through this blog I plan to document my design experience in Holland.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Open Source Design- Droog Design


The most challenging exhibition I visited during the Furniture Fair in Milan was a stand by Droog Design titled ‘ Make Me.’ Droog are renowned for commissioning innovative and conceptual exhibitions. This is basically the reason that I was drawn to working in Holland with Tejo and Rene who are represented by Droog.

The ‘Make Me’ exhibition was based on the idea of Open Source Design. Open Source Design basically capitilises on our global accessibility through web technology. It enables designers to create products, place them on the Internet ‘open source platforms’, then the consumer can manipulate this design to suit their personal needs. The consumer then purchases these plans from the designer. The consumer outsources a local manufacturer to create the piece.

The benefit of this platform for design is that the end user can to some degree manipulate and design there own furniture pieces, it cuts out the large commissions that retail outlets take for furniture pieces, effectively driving the product price down and it reduces the green miles that the piece needs to travel.

It sounds interesting in theory, in practice I was not so convinced. When I visited the Droog exhibition I struggled with the electronic interface to create the work I wanted to make. Even after running around finding someone to show me how the software worked. I still had this niggling frustration, with the program.

A lot of the pieces where CNC cut wooden furniture pieces. The joints in the pieces were generally finger joints, reducing the need for special fixings and screws in the piece. The pieces basically looked like something from Ikea, and lacked the same structural integrity that a piece of furniture from Ikea would too.

I also struggled with the fact that it is hard enough for a designer who has a general understanding of manufacturing processes, the appropriate manufacturing language and the suitability of materials, let alone you average joe, who barely has the handskills to get a bloody alan key out of a packet and follow some Ikea DIY instructions.

There are a lot of logistical matters that keep flowing around in my head that prevent me from being convinced by Droog’s open source design idea.

- -You are basically limited to very sterile products that only employ cnc/laser cutting techniques in the design.

T They suggest that designers could use 3 D laser printers to create more organic work. However, this technology is so expensive it is not really a viable option.

-T There are a lot of inconveniences placed in the consumer’s hands like… negotiating with manufacturers, transportation issues.

- This style of design does not leave opening for the designer crafts person.

- Maybe it is an egotistical reason this concept from Droog is niggling at me. Basically it devalues the skills that a designer develops over time to create work. We develop the knowledge and understanding of materials and processes. We learn to build relationships with manufacturers to easily translate computer generated ideas into real objects. All of these aspects of design will be compromised for the sake of reducing the products price and making different designers work more globally accessible.

As highly critical as I am, I was impressed that I was challenged on day four of design saturation.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, this open source design! The revolution is coming and even huge corporations are letting their software "to be cracked".(crack is cooler than open) This movement will eventually come in some form to 3d environment. You are quite in sync with David Trubridge who think all this "user is a maker" only undermines designer and makers work. I still do think there is a lot to explore in consumers desire to create as they would love to go well beyond the product choice of three colors. I definatelly see no reason to keep designing houses to fit Ikea's global furniture standard sizes.


Midland Atelier

Midland Atelier
The Water Tower Studio.

The Water Tower View

The Floor Mat

The Floor Mat
This is an organic looking floor mat I am creating. It was inspired by mold crawling up the wall