Friday, March 29, 2013

sculpture of necessity

from an ebay auction.
the water bottles (which i assume were not sold as part of the auction item) are used to hold open the paper parts of an eames designed toy, called "the toy".

Thursday, March 28, 2013

connecting disparate things...

two random references to spiders this morning from vastly different sources...

the first, related to a liner notes project i'm working on, and in the notes to a disc of music by reverend gary davis, his hands on the neck of the guitar are described as being like "tarantulas"...

the second reference from a book on the art of the painter christen kobke, and how in his painting of the interior of the arhos cathedral,  the chandelier looks as if it were "descending from the stars like a spider."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

design for music

two pieces designed by the george nelson office circa 1959 featuring works for the audax audio company. pictured are the packaging for the tone arm, and an audio speaker.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

picking apart my past...

build it yourself

funny how things tend to fall into my lap. i sold an eames chair to a student at cal arts and when he came to pick up the chair we talked for awhile about design, flea markets, etc. and once he got home he emailed me a pdf of enzo mari's autoprogettazione project. mari's project is basically a guide to building furniture with cheap materials and little skills. while the intentions were not the same as rm schindler's furniture (which was designed for a specific home designed by the architect), the aesthetic is close to schindler's furniture, and certainly reminscent of his ability to get all of a chair's parts out of a single piece of plywood. when i first saw images of mari's use of rough wooden planks in his autoprogettazione furniture designs, i was struck by their sculptural qualities, especially the table pictured here, and how that table seemed to riff a bit off of brancusi - not in terms of style of course - but in how the base is not only something for the sculpture (or table top) to sit upon, but offers an idiosyncratic/aesthetic visual situation beneath the sculpture (or table top).

what's interesting about mari's project (which began in 1974) is that the ideas behind the furniture and the overall project is not only one of building cheap furniture. here is a short text (uncredited in the catalog) regarding the english translation of the title

"it is not  easy to translate into english the italian word 'autoprogettazione'. the italian word literally means auto = self, and autoprogettazione = design. but the term 'sefl-design' is misleading since the word 'design', to the general public, now signifies a series of superficially decorative objects. by the word autoprogettazione mari means an exercise to be carried out individually to to improve one's personal understanding of the sincerity behind the project. to make this possible you are guided through an archetypal and very simple technique. therefore the end product, although usable, is only important because of its educational value"

it's interesting how this paragraph was translated into english, as it seems as if the most important sentences (the last three) don't really express what mari seems to be trying to say, with a phrase such as  'educational value', i believe mari is speaking less about education in terms of becoming a better carpenter or builder; and more in relation to what one might learn, both about themselves and the objects they make. similarly, the word 'value' can be interpreted in numerous ways: first, obviously, that making furniture of cheap materials has value in that it is inexpensive and very useful. second, that self-made (or hand-made) objects, as opposed to manufactured objects, offer a deeper connection to one's environment. third, that the experience of making a piece of furniture creates an intimacy, rather than a distance.

so, when mari rejects the idea of 'design' as it is in culture, he is criticizing the level of detachment of factory made products. and when he uses the terms 'to understand the sincerity behind the project' he is not only talking about the importance of the experience of the process of making, but about how the creation of things in one's home not only changes one's visual environment, but one's relationship to it.
mari's text doesn't mention painting the planks, nor painting the finished piece of furniture, but when i happened upon this image, i began to think about how one claims an object...