Opendesk and Universities

A project with Kingston University’s Furniture and Product Design students kicks off a string of collaborative projects between Opendesk and universities.

Over the past years we’ve kitted out a number of company workspaces with Opendesks. Throughout these projects we have been constantly refining existing Opendesk designs, as well as designing new products which are then shared with the wider community on the Opendesk platform. We’ve gained some knowledge and understanding in design for digital manufacture and workspace design along this journey. Whether its more efficient, elegant or easier to build, the feedback received from makers and users of Opendesks have helped us to improve designs and our way of designing. However we have not had any other outlet for sharing this knowledge with designers, interested in learning about digital manufacture and open making.

Openness is a core value of Opendesk and sharing with our community is at the heart at everything we do. So when we were were asked to do a project with University students we were delighted to have the opportunity to share this knowledge with the next generation of designers in exchange for fresh eyes on the subject.

A project with Kingston University, headed by Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez is the first of a number of student projects planned for 2016.

The project is focused around workspace design, within the context of open making. Students, working in groups of three were given a client company to design for as a starting point but required to produce designs that are suitable for global CNC manufacture. The brief dictated that each group should design a collection of seating, storage and desk.

The project began with a student visit to Opendesk headquarters and Machines Room in East London. Students were introduced to workspace design and how products have been refined throughout our projects to create either improved versions of the original or entirely new products.

The young designers only had two weeks before the first critique session which was held at the Kingston University London. Accompanied by my two colleagues Joanna Wlazlak and Cécile Pujol we made the journey across London to see how the students had interpreted the brief. During this first meeting many of the students impressed our special constituted Opendesk jury with their creative energy, approach to design and new solutions for workspace furniture.

Our task during this first meeting was to provide feedback, give tips and point out potential problems in design or simply give a green light when design met all the requirements. Many of the students were very passionate about their designs which came across in their presentations. It was fantastic to see them staging new ways to think about the future of the workspace environment and design for open making.

They had a further two weeks before we returned to Kingston to see how the projects had progressed. On our second visit we were presented with an array or models; some laser cut and to scale, as well as 1:1 models of joints and connections. They demonstrated their development process and clearly showed the progression and process of design thinking they went through.

We spent the afternoon with the students as they presented their designs by their workstations. The students then left the room and surrounded by the sea of models we discussed and selected designs for further development. Three projects particularly stuck out to Rodrigo and ourselves in terms of their design development, process and overall design. We’ll keep you posted on furtherer development on these projects…

Working with the students of Kingston University has been a great experience for us. Its very interesting to see such vast variation in their interpretation of the brief as well a passion for design demonstrated form most of the group. Projects like these allow us to unlock knowledge gained through our experience of design and manufacture. By passing this on we hope to encourage young designers to continue to push open making and open design. We saw vast improvements in their understanding of these concepts as the project progressed.

We hope they enjoyed the experience of working with us too and will use the knowledge and understanding gained in their future designs.

Photos by Joanna Wlazlak