Design for Open Systems, Processes, Projects, Places

Started in 2007, documents research on open, collaborative, and co-design projects and the systems that enable them. A personal website of Massimo Menichinelli , Doctor of Arts in New Media, contains his research and publications on Open Design, FabLab and User-driven Open and Social Innovation initiatives.
The starting point for this research is Open P2P Design , a set of design guidelines and concepts for supporting communities in developing open and peer-to-peer collaborative activities. Its evolution, OpenMetaDesign is a framework for the meta-design of open, collaborative and distributed processes.

Massimo Menichinelli, Dr.

Research Fellow @ RMIT University - Publications

Doctor of Arts in New Media @ Aalto University - Publications

Master of Science in Industrial Design @ Politecnico di Milano - School of Design

Massimo Menichinelli, Doctor of Arts in New Media, is a designer who researches and develops open, collaborative, and co-design projects and the systems that enable them since 2005. He uses design tools and processes in order to help companies, organizations, cities and local communities to develop open and collaborative processes, business, services, places and projects such as Open Design, FabLab and User-driven Open and Social Innovation initiatives. Massimo has given lectures and workshops in various countries including Italy, Spain, Finland, Germany, United Kingdom, Mexico, Colombia, South Korea, Singapore, China.

Massimo has published several scientific articles and books on the topics of Open Design, Digital Fabrication, Makers, Fab Labs and Social Innovation and has lectured on Digital Fabrication and Open Design at Aalto University (Helsinki/Espoo, Finland) and Open Design at SUPSI (Lugano, Switzerland) and in the Fab Academy in the Opendot and WeMake fab labs (Milan, Italy).

Massimo worked on the development of the Aalto FabLab, the MUSE Fab Lab (Trento, Italy), the Opendot makerspace/Fab Lab (Milan, Italy) and as a Director at Make In Italy Italian Fablab & Makers Foundation CDB where he researched and facilitated Fab Labs and Makers in Italy.

For several years Massimo was also a project manager for research projects at IAAC | Fab Lab Barcelona / Fab City Research Lab, especially in the MAKE-IT and SISCODE Horizon 2020 European project and as a coordinator of the Creative Europe platform programme Distributed Design Market Platform (DDMP) and as project manager of, the official and open source platform for the global Fab Lab Network. He is now Research Fellow at RMIT Europe, the European hub of RMIT University, in Barcelona, working at the coordination of the Horizon 2020 project OpenInnoTrain. started at the beginning of 2007 as a personal website as it was intended to serve as a tool to publish and develop further Massimo Menichinelli’s graduation thesis, developed during 2005 and publicly presented on 6th of April 2006 at the Politecnico di Milano, Faculty of Design. It was a theoretical thesis developed studying the possibility of a role for design in giving support to communities, enabling them to act and improve their conditions. The starting point was the success of Open Source and Peer-to-Peer software, and specially the success of their community-based organizational forms.

During the following years it has grown both as a website and as a research project, with more posts and more guest authors on one side, and more lectures, workshops, publications and other projects on the other side. The goal of this website is to further improve the discussion on using design tools and processes for developing collaborative projects with and for communities.

In the current version, the website has been reorganized to show mainly research and publications. You can access an archive of the old version of the website, including its blog posts, here.

Open P2P Design

Open P2P Design is a community-centered design methodology for co-designing with a community open and p2p organizational forms with an open and p2p design process. It is a way to co-design a collaborative activity with/for a community that can use it for self-organizing itself and solve its specific problems. Open P2P Design starts from Service Design and it’s aimed at collaborative activities, and therefore it can be applied to a broad range of activities: public services and policies, business initiatives, design and making initiativs.

The main idea behind Open P2P Design is that technology, tools and the sharing of information alone are not enough for setting up successful open organizations, and that we can co-design such open organizations, tools and technologies with the active participation of communities.

After many years of research, Open P2P Design was developed into a more refined and structured framework, OpenMetaDesign.


An evolution of Open P2P Design, OpenMetaDesign is a program that informs Research through Design initiatives for design practice, research and education for the meta-design of open, collaborative and distributed processes. This framework is based on four dimensions: conceptual (the philosophy and its context), data (an ontology of design processes), design (the visualization and design of designing processes) and software (the connection between the ontology and the visualization, the data and design).

OpenMetaDesign is also then encoded in a digital platform that enable multiple actors to collaboratively design and discuss collaborative design processes in realtime. A free/open source software written in Javascript, it represents one of the four dimensions of the OpenMetaDesign framework and it encodes all of them into a working artifact that is openly available and already configured for deployment on GitHub here.

OpenMetaDesign was developed during Massimo Menichinelli's doctorate at Aalto University - School of Arts, Design and Architecture - Department of Media - Aalto Media Lab. See here below the video and the slides of the doctoral defense, download here the dissertation. Press release is here.


Massimo Menichinelli’s research integrates digital and social innovations into a data / social design direction, based on open design through the open innovation it generates and implements, addressed with a open science approach.

The focus of this research is on the development meta-design approaches and their platforms , and how they support and influence the processes , networks , organizations and governance of projects and how these are implemented in social innovation and entrepreneurship . A special focus has been adopted on the Maker Movement and Fab Lab community as Massimo has been an active member of them for more of a decade.

Finally, this research considers the reciprocal impact and influence of such topics on the underlying dimensions of 1) Open Source / Peer-to-Peer / Diffuse, Decentralized, Distributed Systems ; 2) the Local dimension of territories connected through global networks ; 3) community-based collaborative ecosystems ; 4) sustainability / resilience / transition / regeneration.

See below in the Publications section the publications related to each of these topics.


Among the many publications, Massimo Menichinelli has also authored, edited or co-authored several books.

Menichinelli, M. (2020). Open and collaborative design processes—Meta-Design, ontologies and platforms within the Maker Movement. Aalto University.

How can participants in distributed systems collaboratively work together through tools and platforms for the designing and managing of collaborative processes? This book is the doctoral dissertation of Massimo Menichinelli for his doctorate in New Media at Aalto University - School of Arts, Design and Architecture - Department of Media - Aalto Media Lab.

This book is published in English.

Download it here.

Watch the video of the doctoral defense here; slides available here. Press release is here.

Menichinelli, M., Bosqué, C., Troxler, P., Raspanti, C., Schaub, A., & Neves, H. (2015). Fab lab : la révolution est en marche. (M. Menichinelli, Ed.). Paris: Editions Pyramyd.

The book details the emergence of Fab Labs, the philosophy behind them, and their commercial aspects, as well as the techniques, methods and processes used. A real-world example is presented in depth, and then 27 noteworthy projects and products are featured. Finally, it contains the interviews to early pioneers of the global community.

The first edition of this book was published in French; two further edition have been published, in English and Japanese.

You can read more about the French edition here.

Menichinelli, M. (Ed.). (2017). Fab Lab. Revolution Field Manual. niggli Verlag.

You can read more about the English edition here.

マッシモ・メニキネッリ, & 田中浩也. (2020). ファブラボのすべて イノベーションが生まれる場所 (高崎拓哉, Trans.). ビー・エヌ・エヌ新社.

You can read more about the Japanese edition here.

Menichinelli, M. (2016). Fab Lab e maker. Laboratori, progettisti, comunità e imprese in Italia. Macerata: Quodlibet.

This book details the history of the Fab Lab and Maker Movement, globally and in Italy. It explains the phisolophy, tools, techniques of Fab Labs and Digital Fabrication, exploring the social, economic and organizational dimensions of the global and Italian community. Furthermore, the book contextualized the work done by makers and Fab Labs within the most recent trends in design practice and research.

This book is published in Italian.

Read more here.

Menichinelli, M., & Ustarroz Molina, M. (Eds.). (2018). Understanding Collective Awareness Platforms with the Maker Movement. Results, reflections and future strategies from the Horizon 2020 MAKE-IT project (1st edition). Barcelona: Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. Retrieved from

MAKE-IT is a Horizon 2020 European research project focused on how the role of Collective Awareness Platforms (CAPS) enables the growth and governance of the Maker movement, particularly in relation to ICT, using and creating social innovations and achieving sustainability. This book collects results, reflections from the project and strategies for keeping the work and exploitation of the results in the future.

This book is an introduction of the work done during 2016 and 2017 within the MAKE-IT project.

This book is published in English.

Download it here.

Bianchini, M., Menichinelli, M., Maffei, S., Bombardi, F., & Carosi, A. (2015). Makers’ Inquiry. Un’indagine socioeconomica sui makers italiani e su Make in Italy. Milano: Libraccio Editore. Retrieved from

The idea of the Makers' Inquiry is simple: it is an open and replicable research format, aiming at exploring the condition of makers who operate in a certain geographical reality. The first edition was tested in Italy during 2014. Then other researchers could carry out the survey in their own countries. Therefore, in this way, it would be possible to extend over time the database and compare the results at international level.

This book is published in Italian.

Download it here.


You can filter the publications by type or year or by clicking on the in the following text. You can reset the filters by clicking .

The focus of Massimo Menichinelli's research and of his publications is on the development approaches and their , and how they support and influence the , , and of projects and how these are implemented in and . A special focus has been adopted on the as Massimo has been an active member of them for more of a decade.

Finally, this research considers the reciprocal and influence of such topics on the underlying dimensions of 1) ; 2) ; 3) ; 4) .