What does the Open Design School actually do?

The Open Design School pilot project in Matera will establish a research, design and production laboratory embedded within in the city. The primary purpose of this program will be to provide Matera European Capital of Culture 2019 with a workshop through which the city will be able to self-produce the infrastructure necessary to enact the programs throughout Matera and Basilicata. Instead of relying on specialized companies and a traditional tender process, which typically leads to a "parachute in-parachute out", one-size-fits-all approach to infrastructure and services, the Open Design School will bring together highly capable teams with multidisciplinary backgrounds combining all the skills necessary to carry out all phases of a project, from conception to production, locally. It is our intention to outsource as little hardware as possible for the programs of Matera2019, using the need for stages, signage, lighting, sets, public furniture, transportation and temporary accommodation as an opportunity for collaboration and the exchange of skills. The Open Design School, in other words, will mobilize networks of craftspeople in Matera and throughout Europe to collectively examine new ways of solving old problems while establishing a paradigm for re-embedding the tradition of making things into the heart of a city.

On a practical level, the Open Design School will operate much like a design office or a business: its participants will operate much as employees, carrying out a professional service for a client, who will provide a brief and a budget. It will typically seek to follow a project through from beginning - conceptualization, and design - through to production. Although its early clients are likely to be primarily Matera2019-related, the ODS intends to work with other clients, including private businesses, individuals, public administration, etc.


The project's main goals are: 

• Local economic regeneration through an emphasis on learning and innovation.

• The use knowledge and traditional craft experience, combined with new processes and methodologies made possible by new technologies.

• Strengthening of international networks, and cultural and professional exchanges.

• To seed into the city's culture - at all levels, from student to professionals to the pensioner - an awareness of design's potential and importance in improving the quality of community life.


The Open Design School is, therefore:

• An enabling device through which towns, cities and community groups can respond directly to their collective environmental needs

• A social network and antidote to the bubble syndrome of professional over-specialization, through which disciplinary boundaries become inhibitors of innovation: participants are actively encouraged to solve problems they weren’t trained to solve.

• A paradigm for a new platform of learning based on informal exchange and collaboration rather than structured, top-down transmission of information.



This text is part of the 
Open Design School Users Manual, 
which can be downloaded by
clicking on the image below
ODS MANUAL coversinglepage
Why we need an Open Design School

Why we need an Open Design School