In the 1970s, legendary Italian furniture designer Enzo Mari pioneered the idea of “autoprogettazione”, roughly translated, “self design”, projects that he hoped would empower people to create with their own hands. His book of instructions for building clever, easy-to-assemble furniture — tables, chairs, bookshelves, wardrobe — using rough boards and nails has been reprinted many times. (We treasure our copy and wrote about it here.)
Mari’s variation on the theme of “autoprogettazione” was “ecolo”, a booklet of instructions for transforming plastic bottles into decorative bases that he proposed to Alessi, the Italian housewares company for which he often worked. (It included a label that could be attached as a commentary on the commodification of design.) His instructions are in the form of austere line drawings that impart essential info.
Looking closely at the vases Mari created, and his diagrams for cutting plastic bottles, reveals beautiful — and surprising — forms that make for wonderfully sculptural vessels (We’d soak the labels off first…)