Business ‘as usual’ can't go on09. Oct 2020
Accelerating climate change along with a global health crisis highlight the challenges deeply rooted in the way we produce, distribute, and consume goods
After completing a distributed design accelerator program, product designer Alex Kimber is eager to spread the word in his industry, because “business ‘as usual’ can’t go on”, says Kimber.
What started with a chair – a tension chair, to be precise – ended up being a best practice tool for a circular design used in Kimber’s personal online masterclass for other designers looking to expand their knowledge within distributed design.
“The chair has become a tool in my online masterclass program, for exploring and explaining Open Source and distributed design processes,” says Alex Kimber, product designer, and program student.
Alex just completed the two-month program Circular Design Accelerator at the non-profit organization Makers in Copenhagen. The purpose of the program is to take early-stage design projects and help local designers grow their idea, get them ready to go to market, and increase circularity in the design processes.
“Distributed design offers a new approach and an opportunity to rethink how we design, produce and consume products."
Asger Nørregaard Rasmussen
Community & Lab Manager at Makers
Distributed design is about shipping data instead of physical products
Through the program, local designers are connected to mentors around Europe. They also attend masterclasses and get access to Makers’ lab as well as day-to-day support and guidance.
“We teach the designers how to work with a community platform in a distributed design process more actively, and we show them how they can benefit from working with a broader community in the product design phases rather than just doing it alone,“ says Asger Nørregaard Rasmussen, Community & Lab Manager at Makers, and adds:
“Distributed design offers a new approach and an opportunity to rethink how we design, produce and consume products. It’s about decentralizing the design process by distributing labor. Instead of shipping materials and products around the world, we ship data.”
Distributed design is an opportunity to rethink how we produce and consume products and materials
For Alex Kimber, attending the program resulted in specific changes to his tension chair. Now, it can be disassembled and the components can be reused.
“So it’s much more circular than before,” he explains as he elaborates on the benefits of the program:
“There’s the practical level of having access to Makers’ space and their tools. There’s the knowledge sharing with the other brilliant designers here, and the mentorship program was really enlightening as well. My mentor was able to point me towards open source business models and also showed me a number of digital tools that’ve been extremely helpful.”
He’s optimistic about the potential distributed design offers:
“With my masterclass, I want to show other designers and design students that distributed design is an opportunity to rethink how we produce and consume products and material. That’s what I’m passionate about. Business ‘as usual’ can’t go on.”
About the Distributed Design Platform
The Distributed Design Platform is a four–year project funded by the European Union through the Creative Europe fund. It acts as an exchange and networking hub for the European Maker Movement.
It consists of both online and offline activities such as events, resources, workshops, fairs, and boot camps that promote and advocate emerging creative talent in Europe and their business productivity and sustainability.
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