In a short period of time, open design went from an unknown notion to a buzzword in the Dutch design world. This development is usually attributed to the proliferation of bottom-up activities fostered by a typically open Dutch society. However, although open design is commonly associated with grassroots, bottom-up activities, in the Netherlands, the most visible effort at widespread dissemination of these ideals has been the result of a highly centralized effort largely supported by government funding. Why were the government and cultural organizations interested in fostering open design practices? And what type of open practices has this top-down model engendered? Advancing from a constructivist approach, we examine how this discourse has been formed by the convergence of actors with distinct agendas, and position it in relation to its cultural and economic contexts.