Amid the gleaming new products from the furniture mega brands at the Salone del Mobile this year, we discovered a refreshing homage to home-spun DIY. Vladimir Arkhipov’s new compendium, published by Fuel design group and launched at Paul Smith in Milan, is illustrated with the stuff of trash or treasure, depending on where you’re standing.
The Russian artist and collector criss-crossed Europe in the name of research, tracking down ordinary people who have addressed their basic household needs with extraordinary inventions, often involving bits and bobs of other, less essential household objects.
Chronicling his discoveries from Albania to Wales, Arkhipov – whose widely acclaimed 2006 collection ‘Home-Made Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts’ spawned this new and more varied edition – reveals a nautilus machine constructed from a car’s axle and a drawing stool; an heirloom ladle moulded from a melted-down German bomber, and a ski-bob made out of an old bicycle.
‘Many of these objects look like art,’ says Jeremy Deller, the Turner Prize-winning artist who wrote the book’s foreward, ‘but in actual fact art looks like, if not aspires to be like, these objects.’
But just as curious as these configurations of scrap metal, clothespins and chicken wire are the stories that accompany them. They speak of an innate desire to create, whether by necessity or simply for the love of getting some dirt under their fingernails. At least that’s something all the exhibitors at Salone have in common.