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This is Distributed Design

This article is part of: notes.

This is our paper published in the Distributed Design book. We talk about our Domingo project, our vision and our values. Have a good read.

To read the full book, go to This is Distributed Design Book

Welcome to the Domingo Club

At Domingo Club, we make fermented food, open-source tools and explore collaboration with natural processes to promote understanding, transparency, resilience and equity in our global food system.

Context and History

The industrial revolution and globalisation have increasingly distanced us from food production and the processes that transform the raw products of agriculture into what we eat and drink every day, thus making us more and more dependent on modified industrial products that we don’t understand.

But this detour towards abstraction is relatively recent. All over the world, and since ancient times, people have been growing and fermenting their food to preserve it through the seasons. We used to know where our food came from, from seed to plate, and how to improve it by giving it new nutritional properties.

At the Domingo Club, we like to think of fermentation as a process of partnering with microorganisms to improve our local and seasonal foods, making them more digestible and getting more energy from them. This partnership with living systems is an invitation to move away from rapid, global manufacturing processes, helping us to be more conscious of our natural environment and its resources.

What is the Need it Tackles?

To promote and encourage understanding, transparency, resilience and equity in our global food system, we design and develop an open-source incubator. An incubator is a device that maintains the necessary parameters for an environment suitable for the growth of fungi and microorganisms of all kinds. A necessary tool for the practice of fermentation.

As designers/makers, we believe that it is very important to have the ability and possibility to understand and modify the objects around us so that we can repair and adapt them to our own needs. This extends their life and reduces the resources needed to use them. Recycle, repair, preserve, care. This is the message we want to convey with our Domingo Club and its incubator.

We started to develop our incubator to make our tempeh. Tempeh is an Indonesian fermented food product originally made from soybeans and a fungus called rhizopus. During the fermentation process, the spores of the fungus develop and its mycelium grows around the soybeans, breaking down their molecules. This process changes the properties of soybeans and makes them more digestible for our body, allowing us to absorb all the proteins available, and making tempeh as high in protein as meat.

But using an incubator to make tempeh is just one example. There are many other ways to use it and many more ways to be found.

What is the Global-Local Relationship of the Project?

No more knowledge that gets stuck in proprietary software or behind a paywall. No more capitalist practices that only allow a few privileged people to be even more so. By publishing the sources and plans of our projects, by documenting our work as much as possible, we want knowledge to travel freely around the world so that everyone can learn and understand at the same time and in the same way. To enable full collaboration.

We learned what we know today from open knowledge that is freely available online, and that is why we want to continue this knowledge transfer. Furthermore, we have decided to work only with open-source software to ensure that everyone can use our projects without the virtual barrier of a restrictive license.Sharing, collaboration, cooperation and re-appropriation are keys to the success of our project. We want to change people’s habits, in a global way, in order to bring about a real positive change for the well-being of people and our planet.

On the other hand, we want to keep the production local in order to avoid any pollution linked to transport and to keep the traditional knowledge close to its raw materials. Support and strengthen the local network. The transparency of the process is more than important in our way of seeing our project. It is by understanding how things are done that we respect them. By observing their rhythm, the resources needed to make them work and the people who make them.

We deeply believe that what we do has much more meaning and impact when we are not the only ones doing it. We therefore invite everyone to join the club and move towards a sustainable society where we understand what we eat, what we do, what we use in our daily lives, a society where we observe and question what we usually take for granted.

How was the Development Process of the Project?

In the kitchen, it seems natural to share a good recipe, and tips and tricks on how to please our taste buds. We share knowledge from one generation to the next. We preserve the cultural heritage while allowing it to be augmented by the findings of the community. Unfortunately, this mentality is not found in all sectors. Too often, we put personal profit before the well-being of people. We keep our technological discoveries to ourselves in order to extract maximum money and merit. But this capitalist egoism that leads to unfair products and services only exists when power is centralized in one point, one company.

What if we liberate knowledge and allow it to flow in all directions? What if we allow peer reviews to make sure everyone agrees on how things are done? What if we use the principles of Distributed Design and decentralized manufacturing to make sure that everyone in every corner of the globe has access to the same technology?

That’s what we want to be a part of.

What Results did your Project Accomplish?

We have our first incubator prototype. We use it almost daily for our own tempeh production. From the outside, it is a CNC-cut wooden box that can be stacked and easily assembled and disassembled without glue or screws. Inside is a temperature and humidity sensor and a heating system (heating pad and fan) which, controlled by a microcontroller, regulates the temperature as desired. This allows the microorganisms to grow optimally. The next version will have parametric dimensions so that anyone can decide on the most suitable size for their case-use. A modular approach for the electronics is also being developed, so that it can be used in any closed environment. A shoebox or a drawer, for example. We want to remove any barriers that stand between people and the practice of fermentation. Organizing workshops is our next big step. It’s time for us to get out of our lab and pass on our knowledge and practice in a tangible and direct way with people. It’s a great way for us to interact, but also to see how people react to our tools, giving us an enriching feedback and the possibility to co-create and therefore amplify our message, all together.

Why is This Distributed Design?

At Domingo Club, we advocate open-source tools to allow others to understand, modify and repair what we produce. We use digital fabrication techniques to prototype and produce our devices. Allowing them to be (re)produced in any Fab Lab / makerspace around the world, according to the principles of open-source and decentralized fabrication. But as we said before, doing this will really make sense when we are all together doing it, sharing our practice and tips. We want to teach people about our findings, but more importantly, we want to learn from them and promote common knowledge. That’s why we are developing a club. We want to gather around us all the people who are interested in the same topics as we are. There is strength in unity, together we can bring about the change we want.

Thank you to the Distributed Design team for this exciting project and movement.

Created 30/10/2021

Updated 30/10/2021