As a designer I know that design is much too important to be left in the hands of designers.


When I came back to Israel after seven years in Italy, I had a limited budget and a rented apartment, which meant my freedom to create was not as absolute as one would hope. On the other hand, I did have scotch tape, a box knife, some rulers and compasses and most import, the knowledge of materials and inspiration.



You cant sell news stories that have data and cautious predictions. Where is the panic? Where is the impending doom? C'mon people , give me something to work with here…

    Opinions / Science / Theory of Relative Ignorance  

Guerilla design - home brewed

There were two times in my life when I had a lot of money, And each lasted about a year. On the other hand I have always been interested in art and design and wanted to live in spaces which are well designed, beautiful to the eye and enriching to the mind. To the normal person that might seem like a fertile base for a lot of trouble and frustration. Lucky I am not the normal person, and never was.

If there was one thing I learnt in my design years is that design that is not budget based or industry based is flawed. I am not saying it is necessarily bad, on the contrary. Some very expensive design item are brilliant and have a huge cultural importance, but if a designed chair costs more than my apartment, chances are it will not be in my apartment, and then it is just a museum piece, art and not design.

The other way of looking at it is saying that these pieces of design are 'object of desire' and you should work harder, bite the other rats in the race and make enough money to buy these luxury item.

I was never for that kind of stupid solution. Give up the freedom to create and be myself so I can buy something that someone else created? I leave this 'creative by proxy' approach to those who can't do. In the whole game of "I need money for…" trying to be creatively cool by obtaining cool objects is still better than most of the other scenarios. At least there is an attempt in the right direction.

When I came back to Israel after seven years in Italy, I had a limited budget and a rented apartment, which meant my freedom to create was not as absolute as one would hope. On the other hand, I did have scotch tape, a box knife, some rulers and compasses and most import, the knowledge of materials and inspiration.

The first project I did for my apartment was a set of big lamps for the bedroom. By cutting out decorative holes in four rectangles of thick cardboard, and painting them black with cheap spray colors I got the base for the lamp. A small investment in rice paper and a wise use of scoth tape and it was finished and made a soft light that was perfect for my bedroom needs (or wants. Nobody wants florescent lights in the bedrooms ( believe me, some things are really best left to the imagination)

Two days work, a couple of cardboards in the garbage can until I found the right design I wanted and a couple of unwanted knife cuts on my working table and the set was finished, done, hanging proud, and best of all? Nobody believed it was cardboard and rice paper.

The concept was so simple and effective, I started a company that produced these kind of lamps on an industrial scale , this time made out of wood (the rice paper remained as it does give a fantastic soft light, but milky glass was added to the collection for half of the lamps, just to add variety and longevity )
But not everyone can and want to put two days work in designing and executing such a project, and I did have years of model making experience from school, so it is not really fair.

Not every project has to be that complex, and the second example I want to bring, from that same apartment is much easier and simple to do, without any real knowledge of design or modeling experience.

I needed shelves. There are a lot of shelves around, and as I was standing in IKEA looking at my options (I was in my twenties, what can I do, even I went to IKEA in my twenties) I realized that when it comes to the Swedes I still prefer their meatballs over their designs, and yes, in my twenties I was a meat eater.

Thank god that passed, but still, confronted with some of the things I DID buy in IKEA, killing animals for their flesh was not the most horrible thing I have done.

A Saturday visit to the local flea market gave me an idea. I was there looking for a coffee table, and indeed  I saw many old coffee tables, old and older, big, small, round, square, it is amazing what you find in flea markets. I love second hand furniture (the ones that are just old and are not ridiculously expensive under the guise of 'vintage' that is)

I saw one coffee table that caught my eye. It caught my eye because it was extremely ugly. Long and with an oval form, with a Formica top and short legs.

The epitome of bad fifties design. Or at least a bad copy from the seventies of bad design from the fifties. As I looked at it I knew I have found my solution. Not for the coffee table. For the shelves I need.

A short negotiation later and the table was on its way to my apartment, and the price was more than reasonable. I think the guy in the market just wanted to get rid of it as it scared the clients away. Ok, it wasn’t THAT ugly, but pretty it wasn’t.

A couple of phone calls to some friends and I managed to borrow a jigsaw. Small handheld and powerful. The kind that is perfect to get rid of a body. Or in my case, to cut an ugly coffee table in half, right in the middle, creating two long pieces, with two legs each, and a section line that showed the inner working of how the table was made. 

A couple of screws on the wall and voila, a set of shelves that is interesting, useful, cheap and most of all, original. (Usually that means ugly, but in this case it worked, I turned an ugly table to interesting shelves.)

Guerrilla design was officially born. It is not DIY, it is not real design, it is working with what you have, with low budget materials and aiming for an impact, an impression, a new look and feel, while still being practical.

And this is my advice to anyone who wants to try it. When you look at things, anything, look for the potential. Not the readymade. Leave the shopping in stores for those who can't, and go scout the markets for potential. It is worth it.

The closest thing I see these days to guerilla design is the 'steampunk' movement but they take it in a different direction.

Think outside the box, and if that doesn’t work? Cut the box in two with a jigsaw and make shelves out of it.