Posts tagged DIY

I am conflicted about the great American mishmash of traditions around this time of year now colloquially termed "The Holidays." On the one hand, I love a good feast, hanging with family, and some time off as much as anyone. On the other, I am depressed by the raw consumerist havoc represented by Black Friday and the gift-wrapped garbage aftermath of Christmas Day. To deal, I sometimes veer off into ranting. More constructively, I like to retreat into the comforting arms of anti-consumptive media.

My family, on both sides, has some roots in Appalachia. My paternal grandfather grew up hard in Memphis and went to college in North Carolina; my maternal grandfather grew up hard on a small farm in eastern Tennessee. I grew up pretty easy in the suburbs of Baltimore, but my mother's cooking, taste in music, and at times, her accent, retained a strong affinity for the South. We had a book on the shelf growing up, Foxfire, with an all-text cover promising coverage of topics including "hog dressing, log cabin building, moonshining . . . and other affairs of plain living." It was one of the first editions, with big type and grainy black-and-white photos. I probably read it a dozen times. 

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Enzo Mari is legend amongst furniture designers -- a cranky old radical, chewing over cigars and long Italian syllables as he lacerates the current state of design. Now 85, according to the Wikipedias, he is still best known for his 1974 book Autoprogettazione ?, a DIY instruction manual detailing 19 simple pieces of furniture. Setting out harsh constraints for himself, Mari used only common dimensional lumber fastened with nails, avoiding cuts, joinery, and finishes. The results are severe in form, stripped to an irreducible degree (much like the zip-tie). Pre-internet, Mari then released the designs as a simple, (initially free) book instead of as actual products, in the hope that folks would learn about carpentry, design, and the expression of quality through the process of building. 

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