The Art of Sharing

Mum’s secret recipe.

When it comes to family cooking, everyone has a favourite dish. Often it’s one produced by a close family relative. Occasionally the trick to making that dish can be kept a mystery; a myth, a legend passed down generation by generation. Sometimes great rivalries occur, as to who is the best at making that particular dish - and it can get pretty competitive!

It’s more than likely that this rivalry is actually constructive - that no one is really out to hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s perhaps even more so the case that they want to make a positive change - improve the recipe for the better - but that this can sometimes get perceived as a negative if they don’t know how to express themselves. Often arguments are not based on one person wanting to out do another, they are produced by a lack of understanding of one’s point of view. This need to find a common language, the right flow of information - this is the art of sharing.

If we have the exact information, in the correct format, then in theory there should never be a communication breakdown - but it’s quite a challenge to achieve this in reality. There, however, some ingredients we can mix in to make this work for all. This could be boiled down to one simple principle to begin with - that things can always be improved.

We can certainly learn and borrow from the past as we look to the future, but all technology and information has the danger of being relatively useless without one particular ingredient - and that’s feedback. Without a dialogue there is no context, and in this way feedback is normally always positive - even if it could become uncomfortably personal at first. If someone says your food needs more salt, would you consider adding it? We assume so - and then the challenge, the experimenting, the prototyping, the fun begins again.

Often, when you ask people about being creative, it is not necessarily the outcome that they enjoy the most, it is the process in getting there. The dialogue created, either by yourself or engaging others can often be the most enriching experience. The fact that something was achieved and a content, happy agreement was the outcome - but with knowledge it still has the capability of being that little bit greater - is something that excites us.

As we move forward at Opendesk, we’re always looking to share as much information as we can, because that’s all we know so far. We are a democratic digital platform - and a platform is an open space where everything is on the same level. A desk is a piece of furniture that is primarily used for working at but it is itself a platform. Opendesk is a world of digital distribution on this same level, where we would like to reach ‘balance’ globally - to be able to manufacture products locally via this art of sharing.

We’re producing digitally-cut, hand-finished furniture, initially focused on workspaces and built on demand based on the clients needs, through a global fabrication network. We’re looking to continually build stronger relationships with our designers, makers and the global community of people who are engaging in what we do.

As part of the production process at Opendesk, our time is spent between all three of these areas. We’ve found that it’s important to share as much information on each aspect of a design, from the machining tools used, tips, tricks and checks when building. This applies across the board, from the original client enquiry to the product specifications issued by the designer/engineer all the way through to the instructions on how to manufacture, construct, finish, assemble and install the furniture. This process involves coherence and cooperation.

The general Opendesk project - and specifically the work of the production team within it - is to achieve and maintain a consistent level and flow of information so as many people are as aware and engaged as possible to produce optimum efficiency and satisfaction when making via a distributed manufacturing model.

This also means that people need to be willing to accept change. Improvement is crucial and feedback is essential. If we don’t continue to evolve ideas and designs we become stuck, stagnant and eventually die on the vine. Accepting that things can always be better opens up to a whole world of possibilities. This can apply to simple tasks like clearing/tidying your work area every hour, to re-engineering the entire construction of a table frame to optimise the material efficiency as well as make the process smoother and less frustrating.

This whole system relies on feedback. How do we know if we are heading in the right direction if we have nothing to compare to?