Long before the notion of “open design” and all of its digital fabrication & dissemination connotations, Italian Designer Enzo Mari developed a range of furniture specifically to give away the designs for others to make. Enzo Mari’s 1974 Autoprogettazione translates as “self-projects,” “self-design, and self-made.” The collection of designs for furniture can be built with just a hammer and nails using cheap, off-the-shelf timber. He has become somewhat of a figure head for today’s “open designers” leading a mindset that embraces Do It Yourself culture, sustainable & small-scale local production, simplicity & handmade, the hacking of commercial products and even preceding the open-source / creative commons movements by stating that the furniture could be built by anyone except a factory or a dealer.
When Mari created the project and after showing them at an exhibition, those wanting his designs and they were many, would write him letters asking him for the plans, they couldn’t simply download them, but would send prepaid envelopes from around the world.
The project was revived for an exhibition at the Architectural Association in 2009 conceived by philip Sharratt and zak kyes and curated by AA Exhibitions: vanessa norwood, lee regan and luke Currall and titled Autoprogettazione Revisited. Designers and students from the school created works inspired by Mari’s choice of material. construction method and philosophy, the exhibition guide and instructions are available as a pdf. At the recent annual design festival in Milan, Fablab Torino & Domus Magazine showed the results of Autoprogettazione 2.0 a competition to design furniture that can be both made and used in Fab Labs globally. An example by Filson and Rohrbacher is manufactured from sheet plywood and cut out with a CNC router.
The Images below are Mari constructing the Sedia 1 Chair, which is now available as a kit from Finish furniture company Artek.