Get rid of mental restraints: ask key questions and seek fresh answers

Open Design School is a laboratory of interdisciplinary experimentation and innovation, born as a pillar project of Matera 2019, European Capital of Culture.
Launched at the end of 2016, to date, it has delivered more than 120 studies and projects (urban installations, exhibitions, event set-up, maps, etc.) and organized over 60 learning experiences (seminars and community workshops).
Partly inspired by the models of other schools of design and architecture (the Bauhaus, Taliesin West, etc.) where practice has equal importance to theory, the Open Design School is a research, design and production laboratory embedded within the city.
It is a place where learning occurs while doing, in a continuous and creative exchange between art, science and technology.
It is also an attempt to formalize into an institution the principles of “open culture”, with particular emphasis on the role of design as a form of collaborative cultural practice within a process of community development.

The Open Design School is therefore:

  • an enabling device through which towns, cities and community groups can respond directly to their collective environmental needs
  • a tool for growth of competences at community level
  • a social network and antidote to the bubble syndrome of professional over-specialisation, through which disciplinary boundaries become inhibitors of innovation: participants are actively encouraged to solve problems they weren’t trained to solve
  • a paradigm for a new platform of learning based on informal exchange and collaboration rather than structured, top-down transmission of information.

The Open Design School aims to introduce a more holistic, long-term attitude to the process of cultural investment, seeking to emphasise the benefits of secondary impacts such as skills creation and networking as much as the immediate goal at hand.
Design teams are formed according to a specific challenge: ⅓ of participants are local, ⅓ are Italians and ⅓ comes from the rest of the world. Groups are always multidisciplinary and professionals are encouraged to share most of their knowledge and past experiences even if not connected to their career.
Proposed solutions go through a process of trial and error, daily documentation is a key task to verify results: ongoing researches and progresses are shared with the stakeholders (citizens, municipality, experts) on a weekly basis to get feedbacks and contributions and design final output in a participatory way.
Open Design School was also created as an opportunity to develop new networks and new economies within the city, as well as a generator that stimulates the active and collective re-engagement of citizens.