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Distributed Design:
The Circular Change we all Need?

14. Oct 2021

Not only do we face unprecedented environmental challenges. The pandemic has shown us the vulnerability of our complex and global production systems and supply chains. In times of crisis and uncertainty, our globally connected economy has failed to deliver the needed solutions. Distributed design might offer the needed change – and we have tools to get you started right here

Quick insight

We need to look for alternative and circular solutions for production. We need to be curious, bold, and take on an innovative mindset to uncover new ways of designing and manufacturing the products surrounding us. Because, well, look at the state of our planet.

The big question is how we start this change. We need to take a deep and critical look at the design strategies that have caused the biggest societal challenges of our time. Are they still relevant? Are they able to solve the complex problems we are facing?

These are not very comfortable questions, as they might lead to somewhat hopeless conclusions. But we already see budding ways on how to move forward.

All over the world, creative people innovate the very core of how we produce and consume products. Using digital manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing, they are able to produce products locally using locally sourced and sustainable materials.

This new design approach is called Distributed Design, and it might just hold the potential to support the circular transformation so desperately needed.

Distributed Design for a circular society

  1. Local production with local materials
    With distributed design designers are no longer reliant on centralized factories and global supply chains. Using digital manufacturing techniques products can be produced locally using locally sourced and recycled materials. This way, supply chains can be drastically shortened minimizing the environmental impact of transportation.
  2. Product longevity
    Extending the lifespan of existing products is one of the core foundations if we are to succeed with a sustainable and circular economy. We need to keep products and materials in use as long as possible. The digital manufacturing techniques of distributed design allow for designers to repair products already in use. With distributed design, spare parts for existing products can be designed and produced using recycled materials. This is not only reducing the footprint of production but also drastically extends the longevity of products already in use.
  3. Universal manufacturing
    To free ourselves from the global supply chains of the present, we need to make products universally manufacturable. Through distributed design, designers can bring transparency to the design and manufacturing process. This way, products can be designed to be produced all over the world, using the materials at hand. On top of that, the transparency allows for local disassembly of worn-out products and the recycling of materials for new purposes.

Two tools for you

All of these aspects make distributed design a key way to achieve a more circular society. The big question is how to turn all of them into practice. To help you do just that, we have developed two tools.

These tools help you get started ideating new circular product ideas based on distributed design principles and allow you to develop your ideas into concrete and visual concepts.

Scroll down, download the tools and learn how to use the benefits of distributed design when designing circular products.

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 for emerging creative talent in Europe and their business productivity and sustainability.

Julie Hjort

Director of Sustainable Transition

Phone +45 2575 8933
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Do you want to know more about getting started with distributed design?

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Design School Kolding
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CVR 3699 4126

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