Distributed Food Factory – Distributed Design

Exploring distributed design for local food systems

Distributed Design (evolution of the Distributed Design Market Platform project) is a project funded by the Creative Europe Programme to implement the global Fab Lab network and promote and improve the connection between makers and designers with the European market.

Distributed Food Factory is an experimental initiative conceived by Polifactory, the Fab Lab of the Politecnico di Milano, to explore the connection between Distributed Design and local food systems. It aims to design innovative open-source solutions that stimulate the circular transition of local food systems, supporting the development of product-services, processes, and systemic solutions that allow individuals and organizations to monitor the quality and biodiversity of food systems at both the ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ levels, where food transformations are facilitated by microorganisms. Fourteen designers, selected through the Open Call for Ideas, develop three concepts of fermenters and distillers working for three months as makers in residence at Polifactory, which collaborates with them in the development of the Open Farmer Kit, 3ee, and Circle Fermenter projects.

Open Farmer Kit

Open Farmer Kit is a modular open-source station designed to monitor environmental parameters and biodiversity in small-scale urban farming spaces. Conceived by Valentino Stella and developed with Lorenzo Silvestri, Matteo Mojoli, and Davide Formenti, in collaboration with Polifactory, Open Farmer Kit aims to transfer the benefits of precision agriculture into more social forms of urban farming. This promotes the transition towards collaborative agricultural practices supported by open science. It is a semi-automated system powered by renewable energy sources that operates flexibly, allowing data sampling from different areas of interest. Constructed with easily obtainable electronic components and technologies available in makerspaces, it has a low cost, facilitating adoption and use by end-users. Indeed, Open Farmer Kit offers the opportunity to create local networks for monitoring biodiversity and the health of agricultural ecosystems distributed in cities, facilitating the generation of open data useful to local communities.

Fab Instructions link
Open Farmer Kit Digital Files link
Open Farmer Kit Code link



3ee is an open-source system based on acoustic technologies for the identification, classification, and monitoring of pollinator species in the environment, especially in urban contexts. Developed by Martina Comola, Cemre Ercan, Chiara Guarino, Valerio Libardo, and Andrea Somenzi in collaboration with Polifactory, the project focuses on creating a distributed system of smart bughotels made of clay through 3D LDM printing. The bughotel modules have varied volumes with specific and customizable entrances to accommodate various pollinator species and promote the growth of moss in humidity niches. This aspect facilitates tracking the presence of insects and contributes to their sustenance. 3ee thus offers the possibility of creating cohabited micro-ecosystems of animal and plant species, integrating with different monitoring systems for environmental conditions and biodiversity, such as Open Farmer Kit.

Fab Instructions link
3ee Digital Files link
3ee Code link


Circle Fermenter

Circle Fermenter, conceived by Arianna Bosco, Matteo Cappellari, Vincenzo Cassano, Elena Gasparrini, and Qianhuai Zeng, is an open-source modular fermenter that allows experimenting with new processes and techniques related to the self-production of fermented foods. Exploiting the metabolic processes of fungal organisms, the project introduces new active agents into food systems, defining a scenario that explores and promotes a symbiotic collaborative relationship between humans and microorganisms, where food self-production is the result of a shared activity. Simple and economical to build, easy to configure, and versatile in its experimental use, Circle Fermenter promotes the spread of circular production processes for healthy and environmentally friendly foods.

Fab Instructions link
Circle Fermenter Digital Files link
Circle Fermenter Code link


2023 - on going


Polifactory – Politecnico di Milano (local coordinator), Institute of Advanced Architecture Catalunia (general coordinator)

Parole Chiave

Product-Service System Design

Food System

Open Innovation