Co-edited new book on distributed design

Over the past year I have been part of a great, small team in the EU H2020-funded Distributed Design Project (initially titled 'Distributed Design Market Platform') to put together a book that outlines the current state of 'distributed design': A new emerging field in which technology, makers and new design practices challenges how things are made - as well as presents a vision for a brand new way forward.

This is the second book in a series of four books developed within the Distributed Design project which allows creatives, designers, makers and innovators to participate in the creation of a new model of production and consumption, in which “bits travel globally, while atoms stay locally”. Including the alphabet of Distributed Design and the industrial revolution 4.0, explaining the concepts often heard but not always easy to understand.

Each year, for four consecutive years, the project will give birth to a book that will explore the advances of the project. In our first book, ‘Fab City: The Mass Distribution of (Almost) Everything’ (2018), we introduced the overarching themes supporting the idea of Distributed Design as a new practice emerging from the digital revolution in fabrication, communications and computation. This book serves as an entry point into the state of the art.

We contextualise this action-based research in a wider framework of the new urban model of the Fab City Global Initiative3. Created in 2014, it proposes a shift in the urban paradigm from ‘PITO’ (product-in, trash-out) to ‘DIDO’ (data- in, data-out). Fab City focuses on the movement of data, use of local material supply chains and digital fabrication as an alternative to the movement of materials and goods from production to consumer. In the case of design, this not only provides consumers with more control over their final products by allowing them a voice in the production process, but can also provide designers access to collaborators and tools across global infrastructure networks. This urban model can provide solutions to issues of social and environmental inequality by lessening our reliance on centralised systems and scarce resources to ultimately improve life.

The DD model challenges the existing linear paradigm of the First Industrial Revolution and its associated phenomena; patenting, access to fabrication tools, supply chain distribution, value chains and technological development. We live in a moment of technological and crisis convergence. The emergence of Industry 4.0 and the global shift away from fossil fuels; stress in natural ecosystems; climate change and over-consumption has raised questions about the nature of and culture around the products we buy, use and dispose of – as well as the support systems in which they circulate globally. Through the Distributed Design approach, we are promoting, implementing, researching and developing alternatives to mass production and linear consumption models after 200 years of Industrialisation. 

Read the book online here (for free) or order a paper copy from Peecho.

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