“A hand is not ugly nor beautiful; a hand is always accurate.” —Enzo Mari
I recently rediscovered my copy of Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione, a manual he produced in which provides simple diagrams and instructions on how to build various pieces of furniture such as tables and chairs. Mari is an Italian modernist artist and furniture maker who in 1974, had a pretty revolutionary idea:
“…I thought that my work had lost all its meaning. If I was to produce things that nobody understood, perhaps I should take up a new profession. Otherwise I could try to create something to help people to understand what I was trying to do…An idea came to me. If someone actually tried to build something, they would probably learn.”
With this, he went on to organize a series of plans which require the use of standard planks of wood, a saw, hammer and nails to assemble—creating a completely egalitarian approach to furniture creation and acquisition.
Any potential user begins to understand the structural reasoning of an object by becoming involved in the building process, further increasing the ability to view objects on the market more critically.
Mari has had many other radical concepts and thoughts on design and more, many of which are found in an interview via Artek from 2012. View it here.
I’ve yet to build a piece myself and certainly plan to in the near future.
In the first pages of Autoprogettazione, the reader is invited to use the designs to make the pieces—Mari notes his hopes that the idea will last into the future.
A studio address is provided with the request to send photos. I wonder if anyone has recently?
Image of Enzo Mari and chair instructions via Archileaks / Image of Autoprogettazione table via greg.org / Image of calendar via MoMA and La Mela e La Farfalla (The Apple and the Butterfly) via FriendsxFamily