A Community space for design education and fabrication


Welcome to OpenLab.


OpenLab is one half of a Fulbright research initiative aimed at understanding the opportunities and obstacles for open, public prototyping of community services. OpenLab is a small, flexible design learning and digital fabrication space operating out of FabLab Budapest in Budapest, Hungary. OpenLab connects students, professional designers and academics with the community at large in a space that focuses on fostering artistic, technological and civic progress through the act of making.


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Why OpenLab?


There is a fundamental need to modify the world around us that is amplified, but not addressed, by the rising tide of data in our lives. This “Fabrication Divide” is a largely unspoken corollary of the much-studied “Digital Divide”. Unprecedented sociocultural and political expression is emerging from an international network of Community Design Labs (a.k.a. Makerspace, Hackerspaces, etc...) in response to this novel challenge. In a fascinating example, a well-established German CDL called Chaos Computer Club protested a proposed biometric passport system by acquiring the proposing minister's fingerprints from a drinking glass and publishing them on wearable mylar strips in the magazine Die Datenschleuder, thus demonstrating the unrecoverable nature of lost biometric passwords and ultimately dooming the proposal.

The OpenLab research project is seeking to identify the impact of CDLs on social and political behavior in Hungary, particularly in terms of civic participation and technological innovation within youth culture. Over the past 20 years, these community centers have spread across much of the world, allowing citizens to engage challenging problems across multiple scales from encrypted communications networks for human-rights journalists to very low cost pre-fab toilets that generate energy. Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig, in his 2008 book Remix, borrows terms from digital storage to cast this looming cultural shift as a return from a brief period of “Read-Only” to the historical norm of “Read/Write” activity, with passive consumption being replaced by active creation, modification and transmission.

The real opportunity is to harness the inventive power of the world to locally design and produce solutions to local problems. I thought that’s the projection 20 years hence into the future, but it’s where we are today. It breaks every organizational boundary we can think of.
— Neil Gershenfeld, MIT Fab Foundation
OpenLab must thank the US and Hungarian Fulbright Commissions, specifically Director Karoly Jokay, Central European University, specifically the Center for Media, Data and Society, Dr. Gina Sue Neff and Dr. Phil Howard.
— James David Moffet, OpenLab

OpenLab in Two Acts

OpenLab is a...

  • Research Project
  • Website
  • Physical Space
  • Community Hub
  • Design Education Space
  • Digital Fabrication Shop
  • Analog Fabrication Shop
  • Coding Dojo
  • Make (Almost) Anything Place
  • Event Space
  • Meeting Place
  • Tool Library
  • Art Gallery
  • Place to make your own!

A comprehensive study involving conducting surveys and interviews on a significant cross-section of similar international labs. The research will analyze governance, financing, socialization, communications, educational methodology, innovation and community-building outcomes. Ultimately, a formal analysis will be written and submitted for publication and a website will be published to representing these findings to funders of community and educational initiatives, as well as those who would start or maintain a lab.

A local lab in Budapest has been established to act as an experimental model for these types of organizations. A small pilot lab will be created within FabLab Budapest and under the guidance of the Center for Media, Data and Society at CEU and the Hungarian Fulbright Commission. Users, students, designers, academics and community organizers will be interviewed to identify appropriate audiences and leadership for the pilot lab. Curriculum and events programs will be developed collaboratively. This website will chronicle the development of the pilot lab.

James David Moffet    Founder/Researcher

James David Moffet 



In 2014, James began graduate studies in Design at Harvard and Columbia Universities. James is currently a Fulbright Fellow studying international community design labs at the Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from DePaul University.




The OpenLab research project is currently looking to speak with anyone who has a passion for learning, teaching or practicing design.

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