When you think about open source technology, you probably wouldn’t imagine furniture to be anywhere near that realm. That’s because you haven’t heard of OpenDesk, a free open source service that lets anyone download furniture designs and build it themselves using a CNC machine. If you don’t have a CNC machine, or even know what it is, OpenDesk also lets you search through FabHub or ShopBot to find contact local fabricators who can churn out the pieces for you.
The idea is that instead of trekking to a furniture showroom, measuring the dimensions, waiting in line to purchase, and bringing it home to assemble, OpenDesk gives users three options. They could download their desired design and get it cut out and delivered to their door in either raw wood pieces or an Ikea, flat-pack style. If they don’t want to fuss with the assembly, they could also order the parts to arrive completely put together. Optionally, at-home tinkerers who like building their own items could also just get the blueprint for free and cut their own wood.
At the moment, OpenDesk offers limited desks, tables, and stools in .dwg and .dxf formats, all designed to look minimal yet fit into various types of spaces: Offices, loft homes, playrooms, or backyards. Those with access to a CNC mill might find this alternative fun and inexpensive for new pieces of furniture, while others who haven’t a clue about carpentry could use OpenDesk to customize their product, benefit local businesses, feel involved in the building process, and overall give the finger to big brands like Ikea.
Although OpenDesk currently runs on plywood designs, this is only the beginning. Given the uprise of 3D printing using plastic, metal, and ceramics, to name a few, it may not be long until the site offers an array of furniture with various finishes and upholstery.
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