Make your own Ai Weiwei original for just $15!
Or stretch out on a Konstantin Grcic sound system for $40 - you can make these and more in our new book DIY
Can you, by definition, make a designer object yourself? It seems like a contradiction in terms. Furniture and design objects by the likes of Konstantin Grcic, Patricia Urquiola and Hella Jongerius are drawn up by great minds, produced by high-end manufacturers, and sell for equally lofty prices.
However, there is a way to own pieces designed by big names at a fraction of the cost - and with the added sense of pride in the ownership. And that's by making them yourself. Our forthcoming book Do It Yourself details 50 projects by well-known designers and artists that almost anyone can make at home.
You can choose from a beautiful lamp by Ross Lovegrove, a cute toy by Ai Weiwei and a high-concept, low-tech soap creation by John Baldessari. All are made from simple, easy-to-obtain materials. Some require a little carpentry and electrical knowhow, while others are within the reach of even the klutziest creative.
The book is a fine addition to our design list, which includes authoritative overviews such as Phaidon Design Classics, as well as definitive monographs on Ettore Sottsass, Dieter Rams and James Irvine. Yet Do It Yourself also captures a design movement taking place outside the show room.
The book is by the German author Thomas Bärnthaler, who first began Do It Yourself as a regular column for the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Bärnthaler explains in his introduction that, despite the apparent contradiction, do-it-yourself designer goods have a venerable history. De Stijl member Gerrit Rietveld sold wooden furniture in prefabricated pieces, while the Italian designer and artist Enzo Mari published a book of plans for a huge range of wooden furniture.
Bärnthaler believes the book captures a new enthusiasm for amateur fabrication in an age of mass production, as demonstrated by the rise of e-commerce sites like Etsy and DaWanda, and craft events like Maker Faire.
He cites the American sociologist, Richard Sennett, who argues that making something gives the creator a pleasurable feeling of competence that few other contemporary activities can deliver. Bärnthaler also points to the rise of new home fabrication tools, such as 3D printers, that are bringing industrial-standard products into the hands of the DIYer.
Do It Yourself captures this spirit, while enabling putative creators to take part in this self-fabrication revolution. This hardback book, printed on beautifully tactile matte paper, is filled with detailed photographs, easy-to-follow illustrations, as well as clear patterns and templates. The cost of making each creation is priced up, in dollars, euros and pounds. Each design accompanied by an explanation from its designer, as a well as a brief biography, so you can understand why, for example, John Baldessari chose to carve a hole in a soap bar, while Sam Hect created a flowerpot stand.
For the casual reader, the book offers an overview of an exciting and expanding area within today’s design communities. But for the more engaged user, it could not only culminate in a serious interior makeover, but could also change the way you see your own place within our mass-produced world.
You can pre-order Do It Yourself here in anticipation of its publication in September and do check back soon to read an interview with its author.