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Seven observations and research questions about Open Design and Open Source Hardware

Bonvoisin, Jérémy; Mies, Robert; Boujut, Jean-François

‘Openness’ is one of the key concepts brought forward by postindustrial narratives questioning the modern repartition of roles between industries and customers. In these narratives, citizen participation in design and intellectual property management based on open source principles are the promise of more sustainable production models. In this context, openness in product design and development has been the object of growing interest and experimentation from academia, businesses and grassroots communities. As a result, numerous concepts emerged that attempt to grasp the essence of this phenomenon, unfortunately leading to overlapping, conflicting or speculative depictions. In this article, we share the understanding we gained throughout 6 years of research on Open Design and Open Source Hardware and attempt to make the difference between myths and facts. We depict an enthusiastic but realistic picture of Open Design and Open Source Hardware practices as we could observe them and deliver a structured framework to situate concepts and their differences. From this, we share seven observations leading to seven corresponding research questions and establish a research agenda to stimulate further investigations into this socially relevant and potentially ground-breaking phenomenon.
Published in: Design Science, 10.1017/dsj.2021.14, Cambridge University Press