FAQ

Openmake is a Chinese design & technology company established in 2016 as a permanent collaboration between Douban.com and Opendesk.cc from the UK. Openmake was founded and is operated by the original Opendesk (UK) founders.

Openmake is a Chinese company; China is our home and we are here for Chinese consumers. We want to offer international design and innovative use of digital technology to create a new and exciting options for modern consumers in China.

See the “about us” page for more information, or contact us to find out more 🙂

The UK company operating the Opendesk brand is Fabbed Ltd, company registration nr 08311674.
The Shanghai-based company operating the 放制 Openmake brand is Fabbed Shanghai Co. Ltd / 开卓家具有限公司.

Opendesk is a UK-based online marketplace that hosts independently designed furniture and connects its customers to local makers all around the world.

We’re disrupting the traditional 20th century model of mass production. Using digital design and digital fabrication, Opendesk uses a network of international designers to create furniture as digital files, which are “printed” for customers on demand using a CNC machine – a different technology but in some ways similar to 3D printing.

Opendesk was founded in East London in 2013 by five co-founders, of which two are currently co-CEO’s of Opendesk UK and one is permanently based in Shanghai heading up Openmake, the Opendesk venture in China serving both professional users and consumers.

See the “about us” page for our full story!

The main material for our CNC-based designs is high quality furniture-grade birch wood grown in North Europe (Scandinavia). Because of the cold winters, these pristine arctic forests produce the highest quality birch wood, the best of which is used for furniture.

Plywood is a material constructed by layering thin natural wood veneers in alternating directions, which makes it stronger than the original wood. Using a knife to cut thin veneers from a wood log makes more efficient use of the wood than cutting it into separate larger pieces, which means that plywood can be more affordable than solid wood.

Using plywood for design furniture goes back to old masters, from Finnish designers like Alvar Aaltoo and Yrjo Kukkapuro but due to its unique properties plywood also plays an important part in the work of Gwrrit Rietveld, Charles and Ray Eames, and many others.

The birch plywood is usually finished with natural hardwax wood oils, or non-toxic varnish. Alternatively, Openmake offers a wide range of options for hard wearing laminate finishes in many colours.

Design is done digitally in professional CAD software, which most designers are familiar with. We have standardised the “language” in this software so that the specific fabrication instructions of the designer can easily and efficiently be understood by any CNC fabricator in our worldwide network.

The specific fabrication technology we chose to start with is CNC machining. CNC stands for computer numeric control – it’s basically a woodworking machine run completely by a computer. They’re a standard piece of equipment in maker spaces all over the world where woodworking is done. In its simplified form, think of it like sending a pdf to your local print shop: the CNC machine is the printer for wooden parts and you can plug the design in. These machines have eliminated the need for large factories or long-distance shipping, and ensure that products are produced only in the numbers required.

For smaller designs we produce in small batches and we may be able to ship directly; however most larger furniture is made on demand and is usually shipped within 1-4 weeks, depending on the quantity and your specific order.

Contact us to find out more!

We’re changing the way products are designed and made by connecting customers with manufacturing workshops around the world; making furniture as close as possible to where it’s needed through digital fabrication tools. In this way we deliver furniture to companies and individuals, and the designer gets paid a fee for every product sold.

It’s also possible to download the manufacturing blueprints for some designs on Openmake. This is because we want to empower hobby makers to build our designs in university workshops or local maker spaces. This is where the ‘open source’ component comes in.

Designers decide themselves how they license their own product designs: some are fully open source or free for non-commercial use but other designs have not been made available for download by the designer.

Part of our broader mission is to create a viable business model that benefits independent designers.

For any order placed with Openmake directly or though our online or offline resellers, a fee of 8% of the manufacturing cost is collected as a design fee.

This design fee is then paid out to the respective designer(s) on a quarterly basis.

Your Opendesk furniture is made from a natural wood product and should therefore be very durable and age gracefully over time. However, to keep your Opendesk in top condition please adhere to the following care guidelines:

* Clean your Opendesk using a damp cloth and mild detergent. The oils or varnishes used on your product will typically be water-repellent, however to prevent water-staining do not leave surfaces damp for prolonged periods. For the best results, wipe down with a soft dry cloth after cleaning.

* Avoid contact with extreme heat. Placing hot objects, such as very hot mugs onto the surface of your Opendesk may result in burn marks, which are difficult to remove without surface sanding.

* Avoid prolonged exposure to water or other liquids. Mop up spills promptly and where necessary wipe down surfaces using a damp cloth to prevent staining from coloured liquids. Take particular care of any cut plywood edges (end-grain).

* To prevent discolouration of the natural wooden surfaces of your Opendesk over time, avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. In cases where sun-exposure is likely it’s recommended to move your furniture every three to six months by rotating it 180-degrees. This will prevent differential discolouration.

Great! If you’ve done your homework on CNC routing and know a bit about CAD/CAM, just download the file and adhere to any license conditions the designer has set. Be sure you have access to a CNC machine with a 1220×2440 bed.

It’s important to know that the design files have been tested in Baltic birch plywood and are mastered for a certain material thickness; you can find this material thickness in the design file, but mostly it is 18mm.

Before you do your tool-pathing, you’ll want to make sure that you measure your sheet thickness and scale the drawing up or down to match your sheet thickness. Many furniture designs listed on Opendesk need to have a snug (tight) fit of the joints to provide good stability.

If you think it’s a step too far to make the furniture by yourself and would rather pay a professional, contact us and we can help you to order furniture being made and delivered to you.

When you are buying an authentic piece of design furniture from Openmake, we will guarantee the quality of the products – the workmanship and the materials. We can guarantee this because even though we don’t have our own factories, we control every aspect of the production and do quality checks on the products as if they were our own.

Our furniture has been trusted by companies like Nike, Google and Greenpeace but also by many, many individual consumers, including members of the British Royal Family (yes, our furniture can even be found in Buckingham Palace!)

Yes, for most products you can. Since our furniture is available as a digital file and made on demand, you can change the size / height of furniture to fit your needs, within a responsible range of course.

It may also be able to order custom features such as a logo, but you’d need to contact the team directly to discuss.

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