Threadless is a web service that sells artistic T-shirts. All shirts are designed by the member artists, voted by members, and eventually sold to the members. Taking this further, Twitter Tees allows the same community members to design T-shirts from their Twitter updates.
This is a excellent concept for generating the best ideas for art, and in fact, business.
- Don't know what product will sell ? Ask the community.
- Don't know how to design the product ? Ask the community.
It is slightly different from crowd sourcing, which was made popular by Jeff Howe in an article in the Wired magazine. Crowd sourcing, like out-sourcing, is to completely hand the problem to a group of people, who would design their solutions separately and one winner takes the final award. What's more important is the collaboration between members that gradually build up an ideas or concept.
In summary, I think the Threadless concept can be generalized to many areas of design that requires creative thinking and collaboration among a group, reminded me of open source silicon. I further think this is a unique business model that will appear more often in the near future. How about a threadless furniture design store, community designed Ikea ?
photo credit Franco