“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much. ”

Helen Keller

Open Up is a community to grow open design as a strategy to achieve a society that moves towards a degrow in its production and consumption system.

We want to solve problems of autonomy, degrowth and resilience, to face and adapt to changing, plural and diverse environments, to learn continuously, from community, without losing curiosity and the ability to imagine.

From this open field, we want to generate synergies from an attitude open to collaborative work, shared knowledge and critical, creative and innovative thinking.

Two key questions focus our design vision:

why open?

Because we want products that, as open systems, anyone can study, modify, distribute, make and prototype. The product’s source, the design documentation from which it is made, is available in the preferred format for making modifications to it. Open Design should always be considered in its political dimension, because transparency, collaboration and release of resources are strategies that do not fully guarantee the balance and social justice by themselves. Furthermore, by making open design projects we will uncover their political dimension by making everybody aware of the impact on the social, cultural, economic, and environmental dimension of everybody’s life.

(Open Design Working Group, Github 2018)

why degrow?

If we want to talk about social justice and sustainability, we need to decline as western societies. Degrowth implies “a voluntary transition towards a just, participatory and ecologically sustainable transitional society” (“Declaration on Decline”, 2010). And this means that: it is necessary to reduce and decentralize consumption and production, replace the concept of “efficiency” with “sufficiency” and ecological values, quality of life, autonomy and human and animal welfare must be increased. This is why we consider the practice of open design a path towards a degrowth in production, distribution and consumption systems. 

We need strategies/actions that help us to approach design projects that, together with open design, make us increasingly aware of the impacts that products generate in our environment.

Actions for design towards an open & degrow design

Design to encourage open culture:

  • Improve social creativity and self-management through free access to knowledge.
  • Open product information that makes visible, positive and negative, impacts.
  • Increase collective knowledge, design products/services that:
    • Design products that value cultural traditions and preserve historical memory.
    • Build new knowledge: new products for new sustainable futures that improve social well-being.
    • Reappropriate a more natural time culture, look at slow design. 
  • Encourage a culture of know-how to the empowerment of people:
    • Design for repair and reaffirm the ability of people to do it themselves.
    • Facilitate redesign to adapt products to other needs.
    • Support places for the (co)creation, repair and reuse of goods.

Design for degrow, autonomy  and self-sufficiency:

  • Keep from excessive consumption through development of people’s capacities, design products/services that:
    • Promote physical, mental and emotional capacities, as well as artistic, cognitive, cultural and sensitive (Nussbaum).
    • Increase the symbolic value, restoring the intimate relationship between the object and its social effect.
    • Promote new ways of living based on sharing, coexistence, care and the promotion of the commons.
    • Design for repairability
  • Look at economy of needs, design keeping on mind:
    • Simplicity, austerity and decrease against the culture of satisfaction and the economy of desires. 
    • Changing to sustainable habits through products that can modify patterns of human behavior.

Design for relocalization of the economy:

  • Distributed economies that prioritize product exchange networks. 
  • Encourage inclusive community participation and small and local economic development.
  • Use digital technologies to connect territories, decentralize production and generate new economic opportunities.

Design for minimization environmental impact in production:

  • Less resources, energy, waste and pollution.
  • Use of local, renewable and/or recyclable materials.
  • Distributed and localized manufacturing.
  • Optimizing distribution. 
  • Creation of proximity or kilometer 0 products. 
  • Design for impermanence: finite products for a finite system, as members of the natural system. 
  • Balance of environmental impact to quantify the damage before producing the product.

Design for community, improvement the quality of life through products/services that can:

  • Be focused on universal values, from a biocentric position, that increase optimism about the future and shared happiness. 
  • Increase local access to resources, and collective products and service, to achieve equality of opportunities and position.
  • Promote a culture of tolerance:
    • Guarantee equality between all people, regardless of their race, class, sexual orientation, age, gender or culture. 
    • Eliminate gender stereotypes, cultural roles and, in general, all those discriminatory practices. 
  • Increase society’s health and safety:
    • Guarantee a healthy life and promote well-being for everyone at all ages. 
    • Prevent, protect and apply the precautionary principle before the uncertainties of science and economic imperatives (for example, the use of certain materials).
  • Overcome physical and intellectual barriers, for example principles of inclusive design the Center for Universal Design at N.C. State University:  equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, appropriate size and space.
  • Promote belonging to the community and social responsibility:
    • Develop community lifestyles versus individualism. 
    • Enhance cultural uniqueness and identity, as factors for social cohesion, innovation and economic development.
    • Promote awareness of common goods and collective actions for their protection.
  • Promote a culture of peace:
    • Avoid warlike or violent products, promoting peaceful attitudes, solidarity and sensitivity. 
    • Recognize the various forms of social interaction and foster empathy and the gaze of the other.

You can use this manifesto as a guide for:

  • Generate your own brief for development products and/or services in the framework of open and decreasing design.
  • Make your own checklist, as a project evaluation tool, that allows you to verify the transversal application of these actions in the framework of open and decreasing design.
  • Communicate to other peoples the need to start these actions urgently.

we design products that you can make

we need an Open world. A world where all digital information is open, free for everyone to use, build on and share; and where innovators and creators are recognized and rewarded.

Pollock, 2018

…by making open design projects we will uncover their political dimension by making everybody aware of the impact on the social, economic, and environmental dimension of everybody’s life. This definition applies to design in its broadest sense, and is not confined to any specific branch of design.

Open Design Working Group, Github 2018

We encourage aspiring young architects to address the ethical responsibility for the social, political, and environmental consequences of what they design and build.

Andrew Freear, Rural Studio Director