Where do we come from

Open design, understood as a resource for the learning and teaching of design, and self-production or DIY, were the starting concepts, in 2015, of the Download OpenDesign (DOD) project, initiated by teachers from the School of Art and Design in the Guangdong University of Technology in China (GDUT) and the Escuela Superior de Diseño de la Rioja, in Spain (ESDIR). It currently has the participation of two more design schools: the ESDAP of Barcelona and the EASD of Castelló.

The DOD platform is conceptualized as a global educational community of collaborative work and knowledge exchange from which products are designed, redesigned and manufactured. We achieve this by giving free access to our design information (open design) and with a proposal of product manufacturing within the framework of productive autonomy (DIY, DIWO, DIT).

This community structures its methodology in a circular way through three consecutive workshops:

We Make.

We are makers. We select a product from the platform, follow the instructions, and build it for our needs and local resources. We “learn by doing” (John Dewey), understanding the materials and processes.

We Redesign.

We contribute. Starting from a product manufactured from the platform, we logically find improvements for its redesign or reinterpretation, or the urge to adapt it to our needs, thus promoting collective creation processes.

We Design.

Starting from the previous experiences, we acquire the basis to be able to design our own new products from scratch, thus initiating the participation, in this cyclical learning process, of others and other students of the DOD network.

Open up! Logo

The resulting educational experiences not only seek to promote open design and self-production, but also the improvement of design learning from the perspective of values of collectivity, sustainability and collaboration.

The conjunction of the ideas of open education, open design and DOD, together with the need to expand this project and promote changes in the feld of design education, leads to the formalization of an Educational Network for Open Design (Open Up!). Our current purpose is to set up a network of schools and organizations linked to open design, managed from an internet platform, from where we can share resources, projects and weave collaborations.

Some of the objectives that we have and we propose to embed are:

  • Encourage participation and co-creation, through respect and empathy, from the recognition of diversity and interculturality as a way to enrich the project.
  • Share knowledge for common achievement. Give open access to students and teachers of the knowledge from previous experiences. This approach is key to increase the public domain, democratize knowledge and encourage co-creation as a tool for improvement and social creativity. 
  • Feed the culture of know-how, promoting self-management of life as a basis for generating daily empowerment practices.
  • Contribute to the transformation of the production model, optimizing the use of materials, processes and distribution, as well as distributed manufacturing.
  • Unlink development-consumption through a relocation of the economy and downscaling, promoting responsible consumption and fostering a sustainable material culture on demand.
  • Understand higher design education, not only as a gateway to the labour market, but as a place of resistance to the prevailing economic models, from which to strengthen critical thinking and promote the common good, autonomy, social dialogue and openness.

From the peripheries of the design education, establish new roles that recognize other people as educational agents for the acquisition of values and promote actions; as well as to propose new relationships between teachers, students and citizens.

How does the network grow?

The network grows through participation, not only of design schools, but also of any educational agent or community groups. Teachers, students or people linked somehow to the learning of design, can be contributors to its development. The level of involvement is decided by each person or centre. From small collaborations to international student exchanges, through workshops, exhibitions, sharing learning materials and resources, uploading results to the web, etc. From this fexible paradigm, Open Up! enables the generation of disruptive places that help to rethink the logic of formal education, as well as the skills required to face uncertain futures. From a very practical approach, the network aims to train people to solve problems from autonomy and resilience, to face and adapt to changing, plural and diverse environments, to learn continuously without losing curiosity and the ability to imagine. Finally, it proposes the generation of synergies from an open attitude towards collaborative work, shared knowledge and critical, creative and innovative thinking.