Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione

Thanks to friend of the blog Mosscarpet for a tip on another modernist DIY manual, by the Italian artist and furniture designer Enzo Mari. Following in the footsteps of William Morris, Mari’s Marxist design philosophy is both liberatory and egalitarian. Unlike Morris, Mari embraces the materials of industrial culture, 2x4s and nails, to offer designs that anyone can make without specialized training. Comrades can download Mari’s 1974 manual Autoprogettazione (roughly translatable as “self design”).

The goal of Autoprogettazione is not to just offer measured drawings, rather it’s a manual to teach a vocabulary you can use to design and build your own furniture. Mari says,

Therefore the way should be to involve the user of a consumer item in the design and realization of the item designed. Only by actually touching the diverse contradictions of the job is it possible to start to be free from . . . deeply rooted conditioning.

It’s no easy feat to make attractive furniture from 2x4s and nails but, especially with his tables, Mari succeeds, in my opinion. Some clever folks have even, in a subversive judo move, made Enzo Mari pieces with Ikea furniture parts.

The 1918 flu epidemic claimed the lives of many creative people including Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. I’m sorry to report that we lost Mari to Covid-19 in October.

Thanks again to Mosscarpet–I’ve already used some of Mari’s ideas to design a roof for our adobe oven.

Saturday Linkages: New Root Simple Compound?

Just in case you’re in the market for a very strange Goldfield Nevada property complete with pipe organ

If you do buy that compound you’ll want to watch this movie filmed, partly, in Goldfield

Yes, there’s a subreddit dedicated to power washing

How to Tap Less on Your Phone (but Get More Done)

A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air

Sandor Katz and Wagner

This evening you’ve I’ve got two free events ready to stream into your living room:

Dan Barber and Sandor Katz in conversation tonight, Dec 2, 2020 07:30 PM EST

Join Dan Barber, Chef and Co-Owner of Blue Hill @ Stone Barns, in conversation with Sandor Katz, author of the new book, “Fermentation as Metaphor,” as they discuss all things fermented.

During this exciting event, bestselling authors and food rockstars Katz and Barber will discuss connections between microbial communities and aspects of human culture: politics, religion, social and cultural movements, art, music, sexuality, identity, and even our individual thoughts and feelings.

Click here to register.

I’ve blogged about it before, but the Metropolitan Opera is replaying a spectacular staging of Wagner’s Parsifal. Let me sum up Wagner: hours of glacially slow exposition building to moments where your third eye opens and you find yourself in a full on mystical experience. Parsifal is Wagner’s most transcendent work. Here’s directions on how to access the opera and what else is on. They play one free opera every day for a 23 hour period.

I Built a Set of Gerritt Rietveld Crate Chairs and So Can You

Dutch avant-garde architect Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964) was a hands-on furniture designer and builder. He invented Ikea before Ikea did.

His proto-Ikea crate wood set (1934) was sold finished, as a kit and as plans—truly democratic furniture that even a kid could build with a modest amount of tools and dimensional lumber from the big box store.

I made a set of Rietveld’s crate chairs and a crate table for our backyard. The crate chair is a nod to the Morris chair. It’s low slung, kind of like a beach chair (there’s also a taller version). While simple, the chair’s design shows an architect’s appreciation of how planes intersect and how to make those connections visually interesting. I’ve built reproductions of furniture designed both by architects and furniture makers. While I was building the chair I could tell that it was the product of someone who appreciated both good design and the practical details of furniture construction. It’s also more comfortable than it looks and the original had cushions which I might also make.

Associated with the DeStil movement, Rietveld’s furniture work ranges from the practical to the sculptural. He’s probably best known for the red/black chair.

Some of Rietveld’s furniture work is meant to be seen more than used. This chair was originally part of a Jeweler’s shop in The Hague but might also make an eye catching hallway chair.

If you’d like to make your own crate chairs or any of Rietveld’s other furniture, there’s a terrific bilingual Dutch/English how to book, How to Construct Rietveld Furniture/Rietveld Meubels om zelf te maken with complete plans for most of his furniture designs. The crate furniture, consisting of chairs, tables, desks and a bookshelf, can be made with a few hand tools. The rest of the projects in this book would require a table saw and varying levels of skill. The book contains measured drawings for all the projects and tips on how Rietveld did the joinery as well as colors and finishes. If I had a modernist house or office I’d go crazy and make everything in this book.

Pro tip: learn even a modest amount of carpentry skills and you can have furniture by famous designers in your house for the price of the materials.

Saturday Linkages: Squirrels, Dry Winter, Workbenches

I Twitter thread on what it’s like to work on Black Friday in the U.S.

Very dry weather across California through mid-December

Make Christmas Ornaments With Toilet Paper Rolls

A disaster water filter kit

Free e-book on building your own workbench