- C:Lab @Buro Happold
A quick look at the definition of open source hardware.
”Open Source Hardware …
is hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design.
↑ The highlighted words are the 4 freedoms of Open Source. And look. It is verbs. It is about doing things. Or about enabling people to do practical creative things with objects.
Let’s ask Wikipedia for a quick definition:
employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling to create a closed-loop system.“
↑ The highlighted words are also verbs! The circular economy is about doing things! And therefore it should be about enabling people to do practical creative things with objects.
So. The same as Open Source.
Are the things they enable the same or support each other? Well let’s compare them:
Ok. That is pretty interesting.
But what about design? The circular economy is mostly about HOW to design things. Does open hardware has anything to say here too?
Let’s have another look at the definition of open source hardware.
”… Ideally, open source hardware uses readily-available components and materials, standard processes, open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware.”
This is an attempt to make it as easy as possible to physically recreate hardware everywhere. Because if open hardware want’s to leverage some of the things that make open source software so great it needs to be easy to manufacture on sight. Software you download install and run. Hardware design files you download … understand, source parts, manufacture …
This is how ’shipping‘ software works, but not hardware.
So open hardware ideally makes an effort in the design to be easy to make. And things that are easy to make are probably also easy to repair, reuse, refurbish and so on. They are also probably more circular!
Let’s compare some design ideals:
readily-available components and materials
open-source design tools
standardization & compatibility
ease of maintenance & repair
upgradability & adaptability
dis- and reassembly
product attachment & trust
(6 of those were taken from Conny Bakkers Book „Products that last“)
If you look careful into this you’ll see that in some parts they basically ask for the same thing and in other parts they complement each other – give each other hints how to achieve their design ideals even better.
More depth please …
There is so much more I could tell you – starting from legal questions and divining deep into specific design questions. Our studio → Mifactori – explores the combination of Open Source and Circularity. You can find a lot of information, examples and sub methods there.
Just one thing to tease you. We found out that „Open Source“ is not a good word to attract people to use these open methodologies. It has to many misconceptions attached to it and triggers the wrong questions. So in our studio we use „Open Design“ or „Circular Design“ at the moment to describe and dumb down the synthesis of Open Source & Circular Economy.
Visual from our article: What Is Open Circular Design?
I look forward to the discussion. You can find and follow my and Mifactori’s work here
The Open Circularity Newsletter ヽ(^.^)ノ
one more time the link to this page: