Over at the Adobe Design Center Think Tank, Allan Chochinov posts an interesting analysis of "fictional products" from the design point of view. Fictional products are those which don't actually exist but parallel existing products. Consider a speculative version of a future iPod, for example. Chochinov points us to online services where designers of such items congregate, such as Worth1000 or Idealist.
Worth1000 is a PhotoShop submission site, where contests are run to challenge the design skills of its evidently talented readers. Idealist (with subtitle "dreamed objects") is a service to submit original (and sometimes insane) design ideas and have them graded by other readers.
While both of these services are essentially for photo submission, we postulate that this type of service may eventually evolve into a 3D design library. Today readers may print their favorite photo designs on 2D paper. Tomorrow readers may print actual 3D objects of their favorite designs. However, Chochinov says,
If the "ideas of design" are just as effective at communicating thoughts around experience, behavior, culture, and enterprise as the injection-molded kind, there's really no necessity for these virtual artifacts to ever leave the virtual realm. It may indeed be best to leave them in the sphere of ideas—consuming them through pixels and sharing them across networks and communities—rather than hauling them around in shipping containers and disposing of them as soon as we're bored.
Perhaps, but we believe that the most interesting designs will likely be locally printed by keen readers. That is, if they could get their hands on an inexpensive 3D printer!