Welcome to the DESIS DOP Cluster!

A short premise

The digitization of society, the democratization of technology, the personalization of production and the gradual opening of the design practice are emerging phenomena that generate a new scenario in which the processes of creation, production and distribution of goods and services will undergo profound changes. These changes require the development of a mix of making cultures.

The change of production models is becoming the core topic of the research and innovation policies, in many countries. At the same time, several bottom up initiatives are being grown by local people and associations, especially in urban contexts. Moreover, experts in economics, sociology, technology are studying manufacturing process changes in terms of development of personal fabrication, growth and impact of new communities of makers and the return to new forms of craftsmen. We think this is an important issue for the design on a global scale. The topic “design and new production processes and models” has many points of convergence with the global theme of social innovation promoted by DESIS Network. In particular, it is interesting to look at emerging production processes in terms of sustainable lifestyles having a focus on design as a discipline which could have a positive effect on the change of production models.

About DOP

DOP – Distributed & Open Production is a DESIS Thematic Cluster has been created in 2013 by a group of design schools and universities set up to explore the relationship between “design and production“, adopting the perspective of social innovation.

In line with the general objectives of DESIS Network, the DOP Cluster work to promote the knowledge exchange related to good and sustainable practices in the field of new production processes and models. DOP promotes and organizes educational, cultural in the field of distributed and open production and develops research initiatives ranging from local case studies to surveys conducted on regional and global scale.

DOP Network


Organization People University Country Continent
Polifactory Stefano Maffei
Massimo Bianchini
Politecnico di Milano
Department of Design
Italy Europe
Living Lab Fabriken SPelle Ehn
Anna Seravalli
MEDEA – Malmö University Sweden Europe
Aarhus School of Architecture Peter Gall Krogh Aarhus School of Architecture Denmark Europe
Tongji DESIS lab
Tongji Fab lab
Yongqi Lou
Junfeng Ding
Francesca Valsecchi
Saverio Silli
Tongji University China Asia

Academic participants of DESIS DOP

People University Country Continent
Massimo Menichinelli RMIT Europe Spain Europe

Become a partner/participant
An organization or individual interested to become a members of DOP Cluster must participate in the research activities and supporting the Cluster to promote its activities.
If you are interest to be part of DOP network send a mail to dop@desis-network.org.

Research lines and topics

1. Places and services
Platforms for opening production.
Infrastructuring for experimenting with production processes and aims.
FabLabs, Hacker-spaces, Living Labs but also public libraries offering production facilities; infrastructures for prototyping and supporting local production are spreading, as facilities where open access to technology and collaboration between participants lowers the threshold for making things and testing activities and initiatives. However, at the same time these initiatives are also facing issues of long-term sustainability and limited participation. The aim of this strand is to discuss how these infrastructures could become more effective in supporting local forms of production and experimentation.

Design for future factories.
New connection models among design, digital fabrication and manufacturing networks.
The change of relations among design and production – in terms of business, people, places and technologies – is a central topic in the debate about “the future of making”. The emerging manufacturing systems are based on the mix of on-demand and on-site production. Its are also characterized by innovative interaction between designers working in networks and digital platforms, “pieces” of large-scale industry, small enterprises and craftsmen, technology producers, service aggregators for digital manufacturing, community of hackers and makers. This strand aims at exploring the role of design within a new scenario where the new social and collaborative cultures of making and digital fabrication interact with traditional production world of industry and crafts.
2. Practice and processes
Opening production
Open and collaborative production for local resilience.
Open and collaborative processes are spreading in production of goods and services. Practices and modalities for value production based on shared resources and active collaboration between diverse stakeholders are growing in diverse fields. From software and information production (with commons-based p2p production) to the consumer sector, (collaborative consumption) to the public service field (co-creation of services) to social innovation and sustainability (collaborative services and product-service systems). This strand aims at exploring open and collaborative practices of value generation understanding how design can support them and which impact they could have on boosting a local economy generating resilience.
3. People and skills
Design for indie innovation
New personal and autonomous design and production process.
The democratization of design (from open source design to the designer as a “mass profession”) linked to the rise of DIY culture generates a new scenario for the development of design processes which have very different characteristics from the traditional ones. Today small producers can use multiple design resources than in the past, and in the same way designers can experiment and produce directly. Finally, users have free access to much more design knowledge and low cost production tools and services. All of these subjects can develop personal, autonomous, and independent innovation processes where design is strongly integrated with the production and distribution activities. This strand aims at exploring these new design process related to the autonomous development of new product-service system that can be produced on-demand and on-site; the regeneration/refurbishing and upgrade of products and technologies; and the creative repair and/or hacking.

DOP Activities


2015 | Makers’Inquiry
makers inquiry
Makers’Inquiry is a research that explores the world of Makers and Maker Laboratories from several points of view – ethnographic, economic, technological, manufacturing and design – in order to understand how this phenomenon is evolving. The first edition of the Makers’ Inquiry was presented during the 2013 Maker Faire Rome with the idea to conduct an out-and-out inquiry not just about makers but on their socio-economic condition. It was later run in 2014, and the results published in 2015. This edition was a project promoted and coordinated by the Department of Design of Politecnico di Milano in partnership with Make in Italy Foundation. This initiative has been created within DESIS DOP – DISTRIBUTED & OPEN PRODUCTION as a first pilot experience that could be globally implemented.
Download Makers’Inqury Report
2014 | DOP paper session at “A Matter of Design” Conference

12th-14 th June 2014 – Politecnico di Milano
DOP coordinates a track called “The return of production” within the 5th STS Italia Conference – A Matter of Design: Making Society through Science and Technology.

The Conference was the main event of STS Italia, the Italian Society for the Study of Science & Technology and the 2014 edition was organized in collaboration with the Design Department of Politecnico di Milano. The following 12 papers have been submitted to the DOP track generating a discussion on the change of production models.

  • Lisboa menina e moça – The importance of resilience, tacit knowledge and design led innovation for future microfabrication networks in Lisbon | Carlos Manuel Alcobia
  • The ‘Makers Contradiction’: The shift from a counterculture-driven DIY production to a new form of DIY consumption | Alessandro Raffaele Carelli, Massimo Bianchini, Venanzio Arquilla
  • Break-it, hack-it, make-it: the ‘Hack-a-Thing’ workshops as a showcase for the integration of creative thinking processes into FabLab | Genk Katrien Dreessen, Selina Schepers, Danny Leen, Kris Luyten, Tom De Weyer, Johannes Taelman
  • Innovative processes for jewelry production | Paola Garbagnoli
  • Theorizing l’objet technique: reconciling the disparity between emerging “maker culture” and traditional “design/build” | Pat Harrop, Ted Cavanagh
  • Translating services in digital manufactured objects, tools and environments | Antonio Iadarola
  • Procedures for Community Based Parametric Design and Making | Jason Scott Johnson, Alyssa Haas, Guy Gardner
  • Digital makers: an ethnographic study of the FabLab Amsterdam users | Irene Maldini
  • Soundings 2 | Rab McClure
  • Back and Forth Between Social and Technical: A Collective Experience in the Transdisciplinary Making of Sustainable Artifacts | Susana Nascimento, Alexandre Pólvora, Alexandra Paio, Sancho Oliveira, Vasco Rato
  • Radical Innovation in Urban Development as Making Unfolds Its Potential | Peter Troxler, Gert-Joost Peek
Download STS 2014 Proceedings


2016 | Design Now
Design Now is a program promoted in 2016 by School of Design of Politecnico di Milano, with the support of Polifactory, Politecnico di Milano’s makerspace in partnership with Triennale di Milano under the patronage of Cumulus Association and in collaboration with IAAC Barcelona and FabCity Research Lab.

Design Now is a program of collective open designing activities that focus on concrete experimentation in one of the main themes of the XXI Triennale “21st Century: Design after Design”. This theme is the mutation generated by technological advance and social change in the processes of design and production of contemporary artefacts. In particular, the advent of distributed production has modified the familiar roles and approaches practised and taught in recent design history. Design Now program includes three design activities:

design now


2015 | DOP meeting at Cumulus Conference Milan 2015
Friday 5th June 2015 at Polifactory – Politecnico di Milano
Within the Cumulus Conference Milan (3-7 June 2015, Milan, cumulusmilan2015.org/) DOP organizes a meeting to present its first research project – The Makers’ Inquiry – and discussing the first outputs of the survey conducted on Italian context as a local case studies. Thirteen universities participated in the meeting by generating a comparison with analysis and research taking place in other countries and discussing opportunities and critical issues related to research on emerging phenomena such as the Movement Makers and the possibility of replicating the Makers’ Inquiry internationally.

Download Desis DOP Presentation for Cumulus 2015

2013 | DOP presentation at DESIS Seminar on Thematic Clusters 2013

Friday 7th June 2013 at Kalmar Theatre, Larmtorget 1
Within the Cumulus Conference “Global Thinking – Local Action – Future Life” The DESIS Seminar is based on the Thematic Clusters first results. The Thematic Clusters are DESIS Network Initiatives in which groups of DESIS Labs align their activities and work collaboratively on relevant topics.

In this event, the Thematic Clusters that will be presented are: Public & Collaborative, Ageing & Ingenuity, Distributed and Open Production, Rural-Urban China, Collaborative services for informal settlements. The Seminar represents an opportunity to discuss these topics, to exchange experiences and to explore new possibilities.