The Kilometer Zero Design Manifesto

translated and edited in english by Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesanovic

kilometer zero

production at zero distance means making things next to the consumer.

there are no other possible roads that allow you to use a concept of zero kilometers.


production where you need it, when you need it

the blinding need to generate profits has created a system of production and distribution based on the exploitation of the weak.  the environmental impacts of the global logistics system are unsustainable.

we have to produce what people need, when people need it and where people need it.  this means supporting local economies, networks of small producers of high quality goods, once again gathering people and processes in support the culture of know-how.

produce better to produce less

most consumer products are designed on the basis of planned obsolescence that forces us to endlessly re-purchase and consume.

this is immoral and small-minded, debasing the culture of those who can and would do better.

we want a world in which products are designed to last, to reduce the industrial waste of recycling and the economic and environmental costs of trash.

we should promote a productive culture able to use simple technologies and sustainable materials, advanced as far as possible without compromising the functional dimension of things.

“designed in” versus “made in”

not all local productions are really typical of the region in which they’re made, and not all local things have unique qualities. we do believe that it’s necessary to preserve regional differences, cultures and characteristics, and to defend the heritage of local craft.  however, we have seen the abuse of the “made in” label as a vector of commercial promotion, not inherent worth.

to merely defend whatever is known and done locally does not develop a culture.  what really needs strengthening are the local modes of thought and expression.

“designed in” is a way to define the expression of our intelligence as well as our heritage of manual arts, and is the only true way to be a capable culture.

what i can do physically may be taught to others and imitated, but the set of processes and the stories that lead me to think in my own way — this is my true wealth, and it is inimitable.

design is for everyone

our market-centric culture has caused design to be perceived as a method for making our goods exclusive, expensive and aestheticized.

have we lost the culture of universal design? do we still know why industrial design was born in the first place?

we all know that mass industries have betrayed their mission of democratization.  they have restricted mankind’s access to good things.

design should be for everyone.  everyday objects should be well-made for a fair price, in accordance with the works of the makers and the needs of everyone.

an open, accessible culture

design is a process within culture, and culture is our greatest source of value.

our access to culture is our right and our necessity.

it’s right and proper to recognize productive people, but these rewards should not become culture barriers which limit the movement of thought.

we therefore promote a culture of openness, of projects that enable the interaction of the designer with the user, a culture of sharing and access to knowledge, methods and technology.

project as playground

to plan is to play — to play with one’s own instruments, with one’s own materials, with one’s own ideas.

even children know that a game is more beautiful and fun when it’s shared with others.

design should become a matter of interaction, while the designer should lead an iterative process to meet the needs of other people, rather than retreating behind the fence of creative authority as some end in itself.

we need to promote a new way to do projects, to openly share ideas, to understand design plans as the first link in a chain that becomes a collective game.

open the codes, and learn to collaborate: this is the way to revive a just economy.

no limits

the world is a community, and isolated communities will die.

to communicate means to share, exchange, interact.

a design project is a vector: an encounter of the planner and the builder, who through their worthwhile efforts send their culture beyond their local limits, beyond their nations.

more logic, less logistics

we discovered the ability to move information and manage its networks effectively, but we haven’t yet found a way to reduce the movement of material goods.

we must promote a culture of local production, cutting back on the shipping of materials and manufactured goods, reducing pollution and supporting small and medium manufacturing.

localized production is not a goal in itself, and it may not meet all our needs, but it is the reference point for rethinking the sustainability of our way of life.

the rhetoric of sustainability

sustainability is not merely ecology, sustainability cannot stop with merely making things from eco-friendly materials: we can manage all that, and we must go further!

sustainability means nothing without its various parts: ecology, ethics, and work.

industrial production alone cannot rise to power, for that merely over-grows a system that should rely on quality goods and a work ethic.  maturity means taking one step at a time.

the work may be gratifying, but that work must be based on the respect of everyone.

better production means proper pay and recompense for each worker, in a safe and healthy workplace, respecting the necessary time for production, and abandoning the demented logic of a useless rat-race.


to make valuable things, it’s not enough to help to resolve the problems; one must also know how to tell the stories.

history tells of those who know, why they do it, how they do it and with whom they work.

to do is also to give.  we must place ourselves within the work, for these objects we make are the guardians of our collective memory.

we must bring people to the places where things are done.  our things are part of ourselves, the symbols we share when our histories meet in the same object: the story of those who made a good thing, and the story of those who will use that thing for a lifetime.

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