Framing Open Design through Theoretical Concepts and Practical Applications: A Systematic Literature Review

Bakirlioglu Y., Kohtala C.

HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION, vol.34, pp.389-432, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 34
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/07370024.2019.1574225
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.389-432
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


This study reports on the results of a systematic literature review on 'open design' in academic fields including and beyond design and HCI. The review investigates how studies are framed as open design and open-source design (including 'open hardware'): how researchers contribute to conceptual theorizing about open design or study its practical operationalization, in do-it-yourself 'making,' manufacturing and practices in-between these domains. Most of the papers reviewed were empirical studies from diverse fields. Open design was analyzed not only as contributions and solutions, but also as open-to-participate processes, openly shared processes, and open, closed, and modular (open and closed) outcomes. Various research fields presented an open design framing as an alternative to the status quo: new ways to do business and/or to foster socio-environmental sustainability. On the manufacturing side, open design was sought especially to accelerate innovation cycles; on the making side, it was espoused to foster democratization. However, the studies reviewed indicated that companies do not appear to develop much beyond business-as-usual. From the research perspective, the conceptual potential of open design to promote sustainability saw little practical exploration. Additionally, issues around open design community governance and ownership, safety and reliability of open outcomes require further investigation.