Bärnthaler’s new book gets the oxymoron out of the way in the first few lines of the introduction; why make a designer object yourself? Surely the act of assembling the materials, tools and skills is the key reason we take ourselves to big names and specialist boutiques, whether online or off? The world has gone crazy for craft in the past few years, but despite its title, Do It Yourself isn’t about shunning the store and getting back to basics. Instead, Bärnthaler’s book is something of a provocation, challenging us to look beyond the branding and see everyday objects in a whole new light. Of course, you can always get handy with the hammers if you like – plans and templates are included.
The fifty projects have been sourced from a number of Wallpaper* favourites, including Ai Weiwei, Sam Hecht, Hella Jongerius, Matteo Thun, Faye Toogood, Yves Behar and many more, all of whom have relished the chance to showcase their ability to think outside the box. Some are more practical than others – think lighting, shelving and storage – while others tip over into the realm of DIY art installation (Sarah Sze’s ‘digital rock’, or John Baldessari’s ‘A Large Piece of Soap Becomes a Small Piece of Soap Eventually’). Ultimately, however, this is a book about emotional connections to objects, and how the act of alteration or interaction with a thing – however minor – can increase its lifespan and enhance our day-to-day lives.
Here we gather a few of our favourite projects and reporduce the instructions, as found in Do It Yourself... Writer: Jonathan Bell. Photography: Sine JorgensenDo It Yourself is published by Phaidon, £19.95; www.phaidon.com/DoItYourself
Snap by Patricia Urquiola
Time: 360 min
True, this lamp requires a certain amount of patience. You need to set aside a good half a day at least, as you're going to have to cut up a lot of cardboard. The payoff: a lamp that will cast elegant patterns of light and shade on your wall. What you need
Snap fastener punch and die. Protractor. Light bulb, 12.5 cm. Cable and socket. Strips of cardboard (cut to size). Utility knife. Hammer. Hollow punches, 4 and 7 mm diameter, or hole punch. 90 standard snap fasteners.Instructions
1. Copy the pattern from page 214, or download it from phaidon.com/diy. Cut the pieces for the lampshade (A) and make holes for the fasteners (C is for the upper parts, B for the lower parts of the fasteners), using the 4 and 7 mm punches.
2. Cut out the pieces cleanly with a cutter. In total, 30 pieces are required.
3. Attach the upper (C) and lower (B) parts of the fasteners at the places marked.
4. Connect all the pieces together with the fasteners to make a symmetrical lampshade.
5. Draw the cable and the bulb through the completed lampshade from beneath, until the shade lies loosely on the bulb.Do It Yourself is published by Phaidon, £19.95; www.phaidon.com/DoItYourself
Playscape by Ladies & Gentlemen
Time: 90 min
The abstract and austere forms work together to create a surprisingly warm functional object, while still celebrating elemental materials and geometries. The combination creates a flexible flatworm to store and display common objects on a tabletop. What you need
Marble tile, 30.5 × 30.5 cm. Wooden sphere, 6.5 cm diameter. Wooden disc, 2 cm high × 6 cm diameter. Copper or brass tubing, 10 cm long × 6.5 cm diameter. Brass keystock, 127 × 9 × 9 mm. Fine steel wool. Wooden cone, 7.5cm high, 5cm diameter. 150 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Button head wood screws with small washers, 2 cm long. 3 wood screws, 2 cm long. Rag. Small rubber feet. Epoxy. Tray wide enough to fit tile. Hacksaw. Pencil. Screwdriver. Drill. Masonry bit, 9mm.Instructions
1. Use a hacksaw and cut the metal tubing, square brass keystock, and wooden dowel to the specified lengths – or have the hardware store do it for you.
2. Sand the cut edges of the metal until smooth, and sand the bottom of the wooden sphere so that it has at least a 2 cm diameter flat area that can sit on the tile. If necessary, also sand the round disc sides until the disc fits snugly inside the metal tubing. Polish the metal surfaces with fine steel wool.
3. Arrange the pieces on the tile to create your own ideal composition – though the wooden sphere should stay 2.5 cm to either side of the brass keystock. Outline the shapes with a pencil on the tile. Then mark the centers for the cone, sphere, and disc on the tile.
4. Submerge the tile in water in the tray, and use the masonry bit to drill the marked holes. Drill slowly from the glossy side of the marble down, stopping occasionally to make sure the bit stays wet and doesn’t overheat. Then wet sand the edges to remove small chips and saw marks. Clean and dry the tile surfaces.
5. From the bottom of the marble tile, screw the shapes in place. Take the metal tubing and put it over the wooden disc.
6. Epoxy the keystock in the outline marked previously. Epoxy the copper tube to the disc if desired. Place the rubber bumper feet on the underside of the tile.Do It Yourself is published by Phaidon, £19.95; www.phaidon.com/DoItYourself
Tapestry by Faye Toogood
Cost: US$45/£30/ €40
Time: 180 min
The idea of decorating walls with carpets or other woven goods does not seem to suit our time. Minimalism reigns: bare walls, raw plaster, and cool severity instead of warmth and decoration. That these are not mutually exclusive is proven by this knotted wall decoration by the British designer Faye Toogood. What you need
Rope, 22 pieces, each 4 m long. Scissors. Black electrical tape. Wooden dowel, 90 cm.2 coathooks. Ruler or tape measureInstructions
1. Cut 22 lengths of rope, each 4 m long, and loop them around the dowel, with the ends aligning. Space out evenly. Tie all 22 pieces of rope onto the wooden dowel with a slipknot, making sure all the ends align.
2. Attach 2 coathooks to the wall, about 70 cm apart, then hang the dowel from the hooks.
3. Now you can follow the macramé pattern on page 212 using just the two macramé knots and taping.Do It Yourself is published by Phaidon, £19.95; www.phaidon.com/DoItYourself
Permanent Food by Maurizio Cattelan & Paola Manfrin
￼Time: 45 Min
Becoming a publisher and having your own glossy magazine can be easily done at home, according to the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. For this project, just grab a stack of magazines and start the skimming process. Rip out your own act of appropriation and reassemble the pages and bind them in a second-generation magazine that says whatever you want it to say. What you need
Magazines. Gauze strip. Four clothespins. Cutter. Scissors. Glue. Two rulers. Photocopier. Cardstock.Instructions
1. Collect some magazines with the same page size.
2. Select and rip out 192 pages.
3. Align the pages on the long side and glue the spine with paper glue.
4. Put the gauze strip on the glued part.
5. Press the spine with two rulers and four clothes pins and allow to dry.
6. Photocopy (scale to size) and cut out the two Permanent Food logos from page 222.
7. Choose an image for the cover and glue both logos on it, one across the top and one vertically along the left side.
8. Photocopy the cover with the pasted logos onto a piece of cardstock.
9. Glue the spine covered with the gauze strip to the inner side of the card cover with spine logo on it.
10. Fold and allow to dry.Do It Yourself is published by Phaidon, £19.95; www.phaidon.com/DoItYourself
Magpie by Formafantasma
Time: 20 Min
'God is the best designer.' And: 'Nature is my greatest inspiration.' A designer can’t brandish these phrases to impress anyone these days, because with 3-D printers, virtually anything can be copied. The Italian design duo Formafantasma doesn’t even try to copy God – they simply draw on the store of things that nature offers us. Thus, a shell becomes a saltcellar and a block of stone becomes a nutcracker, with the simple addition of a smooth wood base. “We use these objects on our tables at home. This requires no design. We’ve just turned the beautiful things we find to our own purposes – like thieving magpies.'
What you need
Scallop shell. Oyster shell. Stone. Wooden board. Drill and forstner bit 30 mm.136 Sandpaper and block. Saw.
1. Find or buy a nice hand-sized stone, an oyster shell, and a scallop shell.
2. Cut two boards to approximately 21.5 × 14 × 2.5 cm and sand the edges.
3. Drill a recess in the board with the forstner bit for the nuts. The stone will be used to crack them. Fill the scallop shell with sea salt and the oyster shell with pepper.
Do It Yourself is published by Phaidon, £19.95; www.phaidon.com/DoItYourself
A Large Piece of Soap Becomes a Small Piece of Soap Eventually by John Baldessari
Time: 5 Min
Humor is a powerful force in the arts. Marcel Duchamp had it, Martin Kippenberger had it, and of course John Baldessari – the great Californian conceptual artist and creator of this piece – has it. They all care little for genre boundaries and laugh at art that takes itself too seriously. Baldessari created this project in collaboration with fellow artist Molly Berman. Carving a hole in a bar of soap so that it escapes the fate of becoming leftover soap that you throw away could be a quip about our rampant consumer culture. But it also shows that the design of bars of soap suffers from an inherent defect.
What you need
1. Pick up the knife. Pick up the soap.
2. Cut a hole in the soap.
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