Book: Home-made Europe, published by Fuel

 Vladimir Arkhipov
(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

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 (opens in new tab) and launched at Paul Smith (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab)’ 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 (opens in new tab), 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.

Criss-crossed Europe

The Russian artist criss-crossed Europe to find ordinary people who have addressed their household needs with extraordinary inventions, often involving bits of other household objects. From left, a table fashioned from a road sign, and a washstand made from a plastic bin, copper pipe, beside table and sink, both by Helen Yousse in Gauses, Spain

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Toothpaste Squeezer

Toothpaste tube squeezer, invented by Fred Becker in Tulla, Ireland, 2006. 'When toothpaste came in metal tubes you could squeeze out the very last bit. But when the tubes changed to plastic it was impossible,' says Becker. 'So I invented this device'

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Kennel

Kennel, by John McNamara in Kilkishen, Ireland, 2004. McNamara fashioned this home for his dog, Bob, from a plastic oil drum

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Dildo

Dildo, made by Olga (full name withheld at creator's request), in a prison in Yaroslavl region, Russia, 1993. 'I was young so I was frisky. And where's a girl to go without a man?' she says. So she found a piece of rubber and carved it up with a knife when nobody was looking. 'I still keep it in case it comes in handy again,' she says

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Ski Bob

A ski-bob made from bicycle frame, wood, skis and screws. Creator unknown, Aigen, Austria

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Moscow region

Folding school desk made by Vassily Tyrsyne, in Ilyinskaya, Moscow region, Russia, 2007. When there wasn't room for his daughter to do her homework, Tyrsyne made this folding desk with an old frame from a scrapheap. 'I fixed a slab of chipboard for the desk, and made the back of the seat softer, then I oiled the screws so it was easier to fold'

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

'Twin' chairs

From left, 'twin' chairs made from chairs and hooks, and a CD rack made from aluminium and bolts. Both by Hannes Schneider, in Intragna, Switzerland.

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Computer Table

Computer table made from cable roll and round stool by Renaud Beaurepaire, in Bordeaux, France, 2009

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Way Plug

Five-way plug made from Perspex, brass screws, and copper pins, by Boris Sergeyevitch Ivanov, in Moscow, Russia, 2000

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Metal rod and wing nut

From left, a protective cover made from plastic carton, metal rod and wing nut by Ferid, and a chair made from chair parts by Sergei Nekokoshev, both in Zurich, Switzerland, 2009

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Bottle Corker

Bottle corker by Pat Minogue, in O'Callaghan's Mills, Ireland, 1991.'I used to make beer, home-made beer. I made this to fit the right size bottles. I would just leave the new cork there and go - BANG! It's for putting tops on Belgian been bottles'

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Metal Detector

Metal Detector made from radio parts, wood, batteries and wire, by Keith Towler, in Tulla, Ireland, 1994. Keith made this because his brother-in-law thought there were guns buried somewhere on his farm. He fixed the device onto a wooden handle and set about trying to find them

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Spoon by Ivan Kuzmitch Satchivko


(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Spoon by Ivan Kuzmitch Satchivko in Kiev, Ukraine, 1946-48. Satchivko created this spoon when times were tough in post-war Kiev, and household goods were in short supply. Says his son Fyodor Ivanovitch: 'One day some relatives from the country brought him some aluminium wreckage from a downed German bomber, and asked him to make useful household things out of it: combs, spoons, mugs, bowls. Nothing was left of the wreckage when he'd finished'

Gorodki bat

From left, Gorodki bat made from wood and metal by Valery Stepanov, 1990, and a kettle made from titanium, wooden rake handle and wire by Andrey Repin, 1984, both in Moscow, Russia, 1984. Says Repin of the kettle: 'a kettle is like a friend, a life companion... You usually throw them away when they burn out, but this one never dies'

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Stool

Stool, by Matthias Winzen, in Baden-Baden, Germany, 2004. 'I made it a week ago, to help with my posture, because I suffer from backache', says Winzen. 'It's better if I can make it, then I can see if it works, and I can experiment with it'

(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

TT Ball Case


(Image credit: Vladimir Arkhipov)

Table tennis ball case by Albina Leonidovna Falko, in Perm, Russia, 1985. Table tennis balls were hard to find in shops in 1980s Perm. Says Falko's son Mikhail Turbinksy: 'One day I complained to my mother saying that it would be nice to make some sort of a small box so the ball wouldn't get damaged, and as a result I got this wonderful piece here. It's made from titanium. On top of that it was argon-welded together with some kind of aeroplane material.'