The First Open Design Meetup (Helsinki, Finland)

March 16, 2012 in Event, Featured


During the first Open Knowledge Foundation meetup in Helsinki (read the report by fellow Open Design co-founder Kat Braybrooke here), some of us proposed to focus on Open Design, since it’s an emerging field that is booming, yet still needs a lot more reflection and discussion to be successful for designers across different paradigms.

We proposed to have another meetup in order to build the local presence of the Open Knowledge Foundation (the ultimate goal is to build the local chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation in Finland) and to focus it this time only on Open Design. This second meetup took place in at Aalto Media Factory in Helsinki on January 28th 2012 in the morning, while in the afternoon we hosted a meetup of Alternative World Design Capital 2012 (for a report of that meetup, you can read this review).


For the meetup, I prepared a presentation that gave an overview of the history of Open Design, its current status and the situation regarding a formal definition of Open Design yet. Briefly speaking, there is no real Open Design definition, the Open Hardware definition is quite new and design itself is quite a tricky concept to define (since it can refer to a process, a representation of a project, the realization of a project). You can see more about this in the presentation.
At the end I proposed the audience to start discussing what an Open Design definition could imply and what are their ideas and needs about the process.

The audience (around 30 people) liked the idea of developing the definition, and here are some ideas, needs, issues to address and questions that were made during the discussion:

  • why are current definitions not enough?
  • how to balance altruism, mutuality, dependency?
  • open information of daily material use of citizens?
  • what about materials, products, services, processes, language, communication, data/content?
  • open as reciprocal sharing
  • political side of openness
  • the definition has to focus on enabling the benefits of open design
  • general benefits:
    • sharing
    • innovation diffusion
    • inclusivity
    • collaboration
    • efficiency
    • innovation
    • transparency
    • risk management
  • how to protect individual creativity?
  • what about commercial interests?
  • how to boost constructive group creativity without mutual destructive/prohibitive competition?
  • is open public?
  • does open also imply availability?
  • open means infinitive, never finished! Release vs. dev. version
  • what about a license? software has a definition and license…
  • what is the purpose of the definition? maybe it helps to create a license or it helps people to know what we talk about
  • open design can refers to a process, not a physical object
  • what about the 4 freedoms?


The second discussion we had was about ideas for projects to improve Open Design as a discipline and its presence in Finland. This is another thing that we had proposed during the first meetup, with the idea that having more events and projects could reinforce the local Open Design community and the attention towards Open Knowledge. Participants were so much interested in the Open Design definition that was very difficult to wrap up that discussion and shift to the project discussion! We did not have much time for both discussion as the ADC part of the day was about to start.
Here are some proposals for projects (I have grouped them into groups):

Tourist attractions:

  • Open Guggenheim: Openheim
  • Openness for dummies


  • short video clips presenting the Open Design agenda
  • video about Open Design from Kahn academy
  • Open Design and local media
  • Open Design awareness campaign

(as you can see, these proposals follow the development of an Open Design definition)

Local events:

  • a regular Open Design meetup
  • pop-up Open Design “restaurant day”
  • Open Knowledge Festival
  • Camp Pixelache

Apps / tools:

  • hackathon to produce apps, open data, services
  • open design / hardware documentation tools development
  • workshop to share and explain open design tools

Open Design for public projects:

  • define Open Design requirements for public projects
  • define a certificate for Open Design

Open Design in Finland:

  • a twitter hashtag for Open Design in Finland?
  • a shared mindmap for Open Design in Finland?
  • design the new services of the Helsinki library together (Open Source Service Design)
  • Open Design startups (also in collaboration with Slush

As a conclusion, there was a really good feedback and interest in Open Design, especially in the Open Design definition. For this reason, we thought about further improving the process and making it really open, that’s why we set up this website! I hope you will join the discussion about the Open Design definition by joining our mailing list and by introducing yourself there!


You can have a look at all the pictures of the event here and here on Flickr. I also wrote a blog post about it on the Finnish Institute in London blog here and on the Aalto Media Factory blog here.

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