Open Design School is a laboratory of interdisciplinary experimentation and innovation born as pillar project at service of the cultural program of Matera 2019
Open Design School is a interdisciplinary experimentation laboratory born as pillar project of Matera 2019 European Capital of Culture.
To address the realization of the ECoC program, Matera 2019 built up a laboratory where professional could work together adopting a co-design horizontal methodology.
Local and European artists and professionals had the opportunity to collaborate on activities held by the ODS: a regional mapping of 400 venues, the production of 9 large exhibitions, 11 urban installations, and 10 cultural events with the main aim of encouraging the meeting and enjoyment of creative content by the public.
ODS is a horizontal platform. A place of sharing and mutual learning, driven by the need for continuous creative exchange between art, science and technology. They design, model and build solutions through a modular system that, as well as being functional and reversible, temporarily modifies the urban space suggesting new possibilities of use, inviting the public to enjoy the artistic content and feel an active part of Matera 2019.
ODS was also born as an opportunity to develop new networks and new economies within the city, but also as a generator that allows an active and collective re-engagement of public space.
For this reason, beneficiaries of ODS’s work are not only Matera 2019 itself but also wide network of professionals, local artisans and small economies implemented by innovative contaminations, and mainly the people from the local community

Resources needed

The total budget allocated by the Foundation Matera 2019 for the Open Design School project was of €2Millions. The ODS staff consisted in 5 people, more a variable group of professionals who had a temporary involvement depending on the projects.

Evidence of success

ODS is the very first example of design laboratory ever built by an ECoC and other future ECoCs (Bad Ischl 2024) are interested in adopting and implementing the same model of Matera.
The ODS Matera is also active part and coordinator of the European project called DeuS. An 11 partners network recognising the universal value of the ODS and aiming to shape on it a learning and training approach, a co-creation process involving regional CCI communities, design a Knowledge Creative Platform.

Difficulties encountered

As a prototype, ODS went through a process of trial and error strictly intertwined to the necessity to firstly set-up, test and review the model before having a proper kick-off. On the other hand, ODS is, by nature, a dynamic project which is constantly amended through daily practice.

Potential for learning or transfer

ODS has already been appreciated for its universal value of transferability on many levels.
In terms of learning, is a unique methodology of co-creation both between professionals and between these and the local community.
At a policy level, the ODS has a strong impact on local small economies, creating new economic and innovative networks that can involve professionals, artisans, institutions and the active community, having a common creative house and an observatory for the co-creation and co-design of new urban spaces.
The ODS is based on the easily shareable idea that nowaday all urban contexts need a place where communities can express themselves and, helped by professionals and institutions, can be proactive in the common spaces re-thinking.
Potentially, as proved in Matera, model can be transferred in any region, also in internal areas and small-medium communities that can become a point of interest of many professionals that can bring innovation and visions for the locals.

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Main institution
Fondazione Matera Basilicata 2019
Basilicata, Italy (Italia)
Start Date
January 2018
End Date


Paolo Montemurro Please login to contact the author.