Business news: open-source furniture brand Opendesk has launched a service aimed at disrupting the contract furniture industry, allowing businesses to order locally manufactured products that can be delivered and installed in just 14 days.
Building on the successful model of companies like Made and Hem, the Opendesk Express service offers customers looking to furnish their offices a selection of standard workplace products at fixed prices.
Instead of the 8-12 week lead times typically quoted by contract furniture brands, the "desks on demand" system offers free delivery within 14 days. But it also supports local enterprises by giving the work to the nearest fabricator.
"You're still something made locally and on-demand by someone independent, but you also have this easy e-commerce experience with delivery and assembly included in the price," Opendesk co-founder Joni Steiner told Dezeen.
"It's about the convenience model meeting the open-making model."
Steiner established Opendesk in 2013 as part of a team of five. Borne out of design collective Architecture 00, the east-London company centres around an online platform that helps users to connect directly with a global network of designers and makers.
Opendesk Express is intended to take this model a step further, by facilitating the order and delivery process.
After specifying dimensions, materials and number of units, the order details are sent to the maker and the items are manufactured using digital fabrication technologies.
The products available are developed with a range of international designers, who are able to choose both the fee they receive for each piece sold and the license under which the design is shared.
Initially in London only, the express service currently offers four desk designs selected to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, but there are plans to extend the range to include more of the products from Opendesk's wider collection.
When checking out on the Opendesk Express website, customers are able to view how the quoted price is broken down between the designer, the maker and the Opendesk platform.
According to Steiner, the transparency of the system's pricing structure and the knowledge that local manufacturers and designers are being appropriately remunerated for their work is what sets Opendesk apart from other digital design platforms.
"Other retailers offer the convenience of being able to configure and buy products online but they're not really a business-to-business platform and their products are mostly made overseas," explained the entrepreneur.
"We're aiming to address bigger issues like ensuring everyone involved in the process is paid a fair price and the customer gets the products without having to wait such a long time. Everyone wins in this scenario, and it could really shake up the industry."
Since its inception, Opendesk has established a network of over 500 makers around the world, enabling customers to obtain a personalised quote in their local currency, from a local manufacturing workshop for a variety of products or larger-scale projects.
Steiner anticipates that the express service could soon be implemented in other regions with concentrated populations of start-up companies, including California, New York and Berlin.
"The third industrial revolution is here, where digital tools, local workshops and international designers come together to open a new way to buy furniture," added Steiner.
"Harnessing the power of digital fabrication alongside local craft skills – it's a global model for what we call 'open making'."
The initial collection of four desks offered through the service are single-person workstation Studio Desk, the four-person Lean Desk, the slimmed down Team Desk suited to hot desking, and the adjustable-height Lift Desk.
Opendesk has already completed several projects for businesses including Greenpeace and self-build computer brand Kano, where customised shelves display components from their open-source computer kits. The company also furnished a community workspace building in Sheffield designed by Architecture 00.