As Kevin Kelly, (co-founder of Wired Magazine) once wrote: “the internet is a copy machine.” It has proven its ability to spread information and media of all kinds, from music to movies, animation, graphic designand more … but how do you send furniture out over the wire? One German design group is working that out.

Open Design works with industrial and furniture designers who develop an array of abstract modern and cool contemporary home objects, all with flat-pack, folding and bending properties suitable for CNC machines, laser cutting and/or three-dimensional printing. From model to prototype is a quick and easy step, and from there: global distribution is a cinch.

The resulting plans are then licensed under Creative Commons so people can download the design and print it out locally via a 3D printer or laser cutter (more and more places have these – and you can bet there is one near you or coming soon).

DIY designers can potentially modify these works and ‘share alike’ – and it saves the hassle (not to mention questionable legality/morality) of reverse-engineering high-end pieces of furniture.

Metal is one of the more obvious candidates for its combination of strength and flexibility, though there is no reason why CNC-cut wood and other materials would not work for some pieces as well.

Perhaps it is still ahead of its time, but this project will hopefully push furniture forward on the digital frontier, and have things ready and waiting for the day when we all have our own personal 3D printers at home (or at least a publicly-accessible laser-cutter at the local copy shop).