CfP – “Open & Distributed + Design & Production | Design strategies for enabling indie designers and makers”

*Call for papers – Special Issue*

*”Open & Distributed + Design & Production | Design strategies for
enabling indie designers and makers”*

*Guest editors*: Massimo Menichinelli, Massimo Bianchini, Stefano Maffei

*Information for contributors*

Designers’ practices have constantly evolved in the last two centuries,
and during the last decades new design and production paradigms have
emerged, transforming the discipline from processes developed
exclusively by professionals to processes where users have an
increasingly important and active role. The digitization of society, the
democratization of technology, the personalization of production and the
gradual opening of the design practice are emerging phenomena that
generate a new scenario in which the processes of creation, production
and distribution of goods and services is undergoing profound changes.

The increasing number of designers and creative individuals (which is
not accompanied by an equally strong demand of design jobs) represents a
new condition that pushes some of them to self-produce goods, often at a
small scale, by integrating complementary resources they do not possess.
This is possible thanks to a wide network of physical and digital
platforms for learning and training, research, design, production,
distribution and (micro)financing. This trend is strongly connected with
the Maker movement, a loose global movement of individuals who focus on
making physical projects but with a digital layer and digital tools,
often with collaborative processes and the sharing of the digital files
or documentation. Makers often meet and work in globally-networked
laboratories such as Fab Labs, Makerspaces and Hackerspaces that provide
access to a local and global community of like-minded actors and to
several digital fabrication technologies able to manufacture easily and
locally digital projects. The democratization of technology, education,
content and community building of such laboratories increases the
possibilities for professional and amateur designers and at the same
time it opens up new possibilities of collaboration and interaction
among them and with other stakeholders

All these phenomena, which integrate design skills and the ‘making’
approach, enable the development of new entrepreneurial types of
professional producers. On one hand designers acquire more technological
and practical skills, on the other hand, makers evolve their design
attitude and capabilities. Design and production are becoming thus more
Open and Distributed: among several actors, several approaches, several
locations and laboratories. The change of design and production models
is becoming the core topic of the research and innovation policies, in
many countries, regions and cities. At the same time, several bottom up
initiatives are being developed by local people and associations,
especially in urban contexts. Moreover, experts in economics, sociology,
technology are studying manufacturing process changes in terms of
development of personal fabrication, growth and impact of new
communities of makers and the return to new forms of craftsmen.
Furthermore, we think this is an important issue for the design on a
global scale that has many points of convergence with the global theme
of social innovation.

The evolution of Open & Distributed Design & Production can be already
measured in decades, with many initiatives by both practitioners and
researchers, and its themes have been discussed already in several
conferences (like Crafting the Future, Open Design for E-very-thing,
several editions of the research strand of the FABx conferences,
organized by the International Fab Lab Association, and many more),
journal issues (like several issues of the Journal of the Peer
Production, the Copytheft issue of Disegno – The Journal of Design
Culture, the Open Design at the Intersection of Making and Manufacturing
issue of the Human–Computer Interaction journal, and many more) and
research projects (MAKE-IT, Open Maker, OpenCare, Digital DIY and many
more). This is a phenomenon that has already been promoted, discussed
and studied by several disciplines and also design researchers, but
while most of these contributions have explored its beginnings and main
traits, we believe that it might be reaching a turning point in its
evolution. Discussions about this phenomenon could be more strategic if
they focus now more on how to make it more structured and prepared for
the long term than just focusing on exploring common traits and how to
scale it without thinking about a long term strategy. Political, social,
economical and legal issues are increasingly relevant in order to make
such initiatives inclusive, their processes and organization transparent
and their management fair and equal.

We especially welcome proposals that addresses existing criticalities of
the Open & Distributed Design & Production phenomenon and their
connections with Strategic Design: how these criticalities impact over
Strategic Design, and how could Strategic Design impact over them?

We suggest these strands for the discussion of Open & Distributed Design
& Production:

– Opening Design & Opening Production: Open and collaborative processes
are spreading in production of goods and services. Practices and
modalities for value production based on shared resources and active
collaboration between diverse stakeholders are growing in diverse
fields. From software and information production (with commons-based p2p
production) to the consumer sector, (collaborative consumption) to the
public service field (co-creation of services) to social innovation and
sustainability (collaborative services and product-service systems).
This strand aims at exploring how design can support open and
collaborative practices and which impact they could have on boosting a
local economy generating resilience.

– Platforms for opening design & production: Open and collaborative
processes are spreading in production of goods and services. Practices
and modalities for value production based on shared resources and active
collaboration between diverse stakeholders are growing in diverse
fields. From software and information production (with commons-based p2p
production) to the consumer sector, (collaborative consumption) to the
public service field (co-creation of services) to social innovation and
sustainability (collaborative services and product-service systems).
This strand aims at exploring open and collaborative practices of value
generation understanding how design can support them and which impact
they could have on boosting a local economy generating resilience.

– Factories for opening design & production: Fab Labs, Hackerspaces,
Living Labs but also public libraries offering production facilities;
infrastructures for prototyping and supporting local production are
spreading, as facilities where open access to technology and
collaboration between participants lowers the threshold for making
things and testing activities and initiatives. The aim of this strand is
to discuss how these infrastructures could become more effective in
supporting local forms of production and experimentation.

– Design for “indie” innovation: The democratization of design (from
open source design to the designer as a “mass profession”) linked to the
rise of DIY culture generates a new scenario for the development of
design processes which have very different characteristics from the
traditional ones. This strand aims at exploring these new design process
related to the autonomous development of new product-service system that
can be produced on-demand and on-site; the regeneration/refurbishing and
upgrade of products and technologies; and the creative repair and/or

Strategic design has always been considered a specific disciplinary
field mainly focused on product-service systems design and development.
Its applications, methodologies and tools stimulate individuals and
organizations to adopt and use design as a key factor/resource to
innovate products and services, production, communication and
distribution processes and generate economic, social, and cultural
values. In an emerging scenario, which is characterized by the rise of
open and distributed models, creative, production and distribution
processes are transforming conditions and environments in which
strategic design has operated so far.
New independent actors are emerging in economic, the nature of
organizations is evolving in a hybrid direction, design and R&D
processes become less hierarchical and more collaborative, user are
changing the relationship with products-services systems. In this
perspective, the influence and contribution of disciplines such as
marketing – traditionally very “close” to strategic design – seems now
less relevant as well as the extreme attention on brand identity and
appearance. But strategic design is and remains a disciplinary field
that highly stimulates individuals and organizations to think, work and
act adopting a systemic perspective and a holistic view. For this
reason, this special issue of SDRJ wants to thus gather contributions
that explore what and (overall) how strategic design has been could
and/or should evolve its own patrimony of approaches, methodologies and
tools to operate and innovate in emerging contexts of open and
distributed design.

Furthermore, we also suggest to investigate the above themes, with the
perspective of Strategic Design, focusing on the social, political,
legal, environmental and economic issues especially through critical
trends such as unemployment, automation, democracy, decentralization,
decolonization, gender issues, sustainability, circular economy,
degrowth, anthropocene, post-humanism, techno-evangelism,
techno-determinism and so on. Proposals on different strands, issues and
trends that explore the criticalities of Open & Distributed Design &
Production with the perspective of Strategic Design are very much welcomed.


Bianchini, M., & Maffei, S. (2012). Could design leadership be personal?
Forecasting new forms of “Indie Capitalism.” Design Management Journal,
7(1), 6–17.

Forlano, L. (2017). Posthumanism and Design. She Ji: The Journal of
Design, Economics, and Innovation, 3(1), 16–29.

Foster, E. K. (2017). Making Cultures: Politics of Inclusion,
Accessibility, and Empowerment at the Margins of the Maker Movement
(Ph.D.). Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Ann Arbor, United States.

Greenfield, A. (2017). Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday
Life. London ; New York: Verso.

Kohtala, C. (2016). Making sustainability: how Fab Labs address
environmental issues. Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and
Architecture – Department of Design. Retrieved from

Manzini, E. (2015). Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to
Design for Social Innovation. (R. Coad, Trans.). Cambridge,
Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Menichinelli, M. (2016). A Framework for Understanding the Possible
Intersections of Design with Open, P2P, Diffuse, Distributed and
Decentralized Systems. Disegno – The Journal of Design Culture,
III(1–2), 44–71.

Menichinelli, M., Bianchini, M., Carosi, A., & Maffei, S. (2017). Makers
as a new work condition between self-employment and community
peer-production. Insights from a survey on Makers in Italy. Journal of
Peer Production, (10). Retrieved from

Morozov, E. (2014). To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of
Technological Solutionism (First Trade Paper Edition edition). New York:


Launch of the call for papers: May 19th, 2018

Full paper due: September 16th, 2018

Notification of Review results: November 6th, 2018

Deadline for submission of the final version: December 10th, 2018

Final acceptance: January 15th, 2019

Publication: May 1st, 2019

*Submission guidelines*

Manuscripts must be prepared using the guidelines found at the
Submission page

The manuscript must be written in English.

Previously published articles will not be accepted. Submitted articles
must not be under consideration for publication anywhere else. The
publication of the article is subjected to the previous approval of the
journal’s Editorial Board, as well as to peer review made by, at least,
two reviewers using the double blind review process.

Manuscripts must be sent through the journal’s online submission system.
You have to register in the platform in order to submit your

If you have questions regarding the submission process, contact the
journal at

Full call for papers:

BY Massimo Menichinelli
Aalto University
School of Art, Design and Architecture
Department of Media
Media Lab Helsinki


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