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autoprogettazione by greg.org
2 Mari X IKEA

Pottery Barn, CB2, West Elm, etc. etc.


So Im thinking of getting the Truss

Table [top] known as the EFFE Table.
As a city dweller, Id have to have it
made, or at least have the lumber cut
and finished and delivered for my own

An ex-pat design firm in Japan used

sugi, Japanese cedar, to make their
EFFE table. [http://www.hesterfell.
com/] For me, I think its key to use
Maris intended pine. So far, Ive
sourced two wildly disparate, but po-
tentially interesting woods:

Though it sounds like an oxymoron, I

tried to find the most unique, most re-
fined pine around. In the US, at least,
thats longleaf pine harvested from
sunken logs. Known as sinker pine
sinker.htm] or river-reclaimed pine
[http://www.heartpine.com/], these
logs were up to 500 years old when
EFFE Table, Enzo Mari, 1973, constructed from a kit of pre-cut pine lumber, sold as Metamobile by Simon International, Milano. [image: sothebys.com] they were felled 150-200 years ago. A
few specialist mills salvage and pro-
Mari intended his Autoprogettazi- cent prices of good furniture make cess the wood, mostly into flooring.
Autoproget- one to be made of #2 medium-grade, me laugh out loud. So producing the 1x2 run of the mill
knotty pine, some of the humblest ma- lumber needed would require custom
tazione: The terial on the market. He arranged for Though Im an unrepentant Ikea fan, milling. Which has an amusing irony
a company to pre-cut the lumber and it only goes so far [i.e., no serious fur- to it. And a comfortingly expensive
Making Of sell it in packs as Metamobile. Natu- niture]. Maris furniture feels like the price tag.
rally, one of these vintage 1974 kit ta- perfect counterpoint to the homoge-
An Enzo Mari bles sold for $14,400 at auction last fall neous mega-catalogue stores: C&B, The other option is even more ironic,
[http://www.architonic.com/4107675] though: get the wood from Ikea. Itd be
Dining Room
Naturally, a gallery in Chelsea, De-
Table misch Danant [http://www.demis-
posted by greg at November 11, 2007 10:42 PM enzo-mari/], just closed an exhibition
of Metamobile furniture which they
Autoprogettazione: The Making Of An had made, and which they arranged
Enzo Mari Dining Room Table for Mari himself to sign. Which seems
to defeat several purposes of the entire
The economic and ecological and aes- Autoprogettazione concept, but thats
thetic far-sightedness of Enzo Maris life.
1974 Autoprogettazione still blows
my mind. Translated variously as Im looking for photos of the first
self-projects, and self-design, self- Metamobile furniture I saw, which is
made, Maris collection of designs still my favorite: In 2004, Rirkrit Tira-
for furniture you could build yourself vanija produced Maris square din-
with just a hammer using cheap, off- ing table [above] and some chairs in
the-shelf lumber anticipated several chrome-plated stainless steel. The
key design principles that resonate pieces weighed a ton, but they were
right now: DIY; sustainability; small- truly spectacular, like Koons picnic
scale, local production and consump- furniture.
tion; simplicity; handmade; hacking
commercial products; and the open- Anyway, were just in the middle of
source/creative commons movements moving our place in DC, which gives
[the furniture could be built by anyone me the occasion to need a bigger, nicer
except a factory or a dealer.] dining room table. Mid-century mod-
ernism is too relentlessly tasteful; re- Square Table, Enzo Mari, 1973, made from a kit of pre-cut pine lumber sold by Dino Gavinas Simon

International. [image: phillipsdepury.com]

Mari X IKEA 3

Looking through the Ikea hacking

communities, it seems no one had tried
to make an Enzo Mari table from Ikea
parts before. While Ikea publishes de-
tailed dimensions for their assembled
products, theres no information on
part specs.

Over the course of several trips to Ikeas

outside New York and Washington,
DC, I identified every Ikea product
that looked like a promising source of
pine parts, and I measured each piece
of wood.

Though there are many pine products

at Ikea, there are just eight products or
series [left] whose parts come close to
standard 1-by lumber dimensions. Ill
put them in the next post.

Then Ill calculate the various combi-

nations to figure out things like the
optimum use of material, the least
amount of cutting, the cheapest/most
expensive, the closest to Maris design,
and the most successful table. Well see
the ultimate Ikea hack to turn a mass- He did this by developing blueprints I was told I could order pine boards of how it goes.
produced bookcase and bunkbed into for a houseful of furniture that could these dimensions, and theyd come in
a handmade, Italian designer dining be made from standardized pine lum- about a week. Couldnt my contractor http://greg.org/archive/2008/05/10/
table. Ikea could supplant Home De- ber, in a day or two. The designs re- get wood for me? So I went to Home enzo_mari_x_ikea_mashup_ch_1.html
pot as the go-to source for Everything. quire only the simplest saw cuts and Depot, which had pine boards in sev-
a hammer. And if you get the lumber- eral grades and dimensions. They
So far, though bunkbeds might work, yard to cut the lengths for you, it just were all from New Zealand. Ch. 2: Parts
the only Ikea products with promising requires a hammer. As Mari explained
dimensions and wood supply are bed in an interview: First off, it wasnt that nice-looking, posted by greg at June 8, 2008 4:40 PM

slats. Theyre essentially a bundle of but buying processed wood from the
1x2 boards stapled to a canvas tape. At [T]hese items are not intended as al- other side of the world in a 100,000-sf [In the early 1970s, Enzo Mari suggest-
$9.99, theyre cheaper per board-food ternatives to industrial ones, their cre- store seemed to contradict the spirit of ed using 1-by pine lumber to make his
than actual lumber at Home Depot. ation is intended as a sort of critical ex- the autoproggetazione project. autoprogettazione furniture because it
Once I get my calculator warmed up, ercise on design, and this is the reason was cheap, standardized, easy to cut,
and then my tape measure, Ill know if why this experiment was called home Under those circumstances, Jeff Bezos and universally available at the corner
an original Enzo Mari dining table can design, not home production. The critical response to the furniture design hardware store. Now, my local hard-
be had for $19.98, $998, or, $14,998. user, in repeating the operation, which industry made more sense. [When he ware is a Home Depot, and the boards
can never be a slavish repetition...the started Amazon, he made the desks they sell come from New Zealand. So
http://greg.org/archive/2007/11/11/au- designs have no measurements and out of hollow-core doors and saw- in keeping with the spirit of Maris
toprogettazione_the_making_of_an_ while you are making them you can horses, a scrappy tradition the com- design, Im going to use components
enzo_mari_dining_room_table.html make changes, variations...when mak- pany continued.] But I didnt want the from Ikea furniture kits instead.]
ing the object the user becomes aware aggressively cheap improvisation of a
of the structural reasoning behind the Bezos Table in my house. The dining table Im going to make
Ch. 1: Mashup object itself, therefore, subsequently he is called either F or EFFE, depending
improves his own ability to assess the The place where I saw the biggest on which plans you look at [Maris
posted by greg at May 10, 2008 11:50 PM objects on the market with a more criti- piles of untreated pine lumber was, own autoprogettazione book uses the
cal eye. ironically, Ikea. The warehouse sec- former; Peter Stambergs 1976 blue-
I wrote a few months ago about making tion near the stores exit has palletsful print anthology, Instant Furniture,
a dining room table following Italian The EFFE table I want to build [above] of bookcases, chairs and beds, all flat- which reproduces four of Maris
designer and theorist Enzo Maris 1974 requires two sizes of board: 1x2 inch packed and ready for assembly [home
Proposta per unautoprogettazione, pine for the structure, and 1x8 planks production?]
roughly translated as A Project for for the top. In 1983, Mari explained
self-design. Maris goal was to effect that, As regards material, the easi- What would happen if you treat Ikea
a critical examination of the objects est to acquire is undoubtedly still the as your corner hardware store, and
around us and the system of design, wooden plank. Undoubtedly. So I use their flatpack-optimized, mass-
manufacture, distribution, marketing, headed down to the nearest hardware produced furniture components as the
and commerce that brings them into store, where there were several hun- raw materials in an entirely different
being. dred varieties of curtain rod finials, but design?
no lumber. The 2002 reprint of Autoprogettazione from Corraini

is much harder to find than it should be.

4 Mari X IKEA

autoprogettazione designs, uses the The Mandal has the added benefit of
latter.] being factory sealed with a smooth
acrylic finish. If its important to stick
It calls for wood in two sizes. The close to Maris original idea of unfin-
truss and leg structure is made of 1x2 ished wood, the far-and-away win-
in lengths ranging from 10 1/2 to ner is the Ivar storage system. Ivars
51. The top calls for four 79-inch 1x8 component-based, which means the
planks, which actually comes to about shelves, side units, and corner posts
30 across. [After its dried and fin- may be all you need to make a table.
ished, 1x8 boards are usually 3/4 x 7
1/2. I had no idea.] One pine top shelf [$19] is 3/4 x 11 3/4
x 82 5/8 inches Cut off the embedded
There turns out to be far fewer useful metal brackets from each end, and its
sources of lumber in Ikea than I origi- right at 79 inches. Theres also a ver-
nally thought. [The idea hit me when I tical piece to cut off [or to not attach
passed giant warehouse shelves filled in the first place; the shelf I saw didnt
with rolled up pine bed slats.] But have it at all.] If you use three shelves,
most of the pine pieces in Ikea furni- the table will be 35 1/4 inches wide,
ture are only 1/2-inch thick, too thin to which adds 5+ inches to the horizontal
use for underpinning a table. pieces underneath the table, too.

Though I stuck to pine on principle, Corner posts are 1 3/4-in. square and
there is some solid wood furniture, filled with drilled holes [$8, $12]. The
mostly birch, and some oak. But by far,
most of the wood-looking furniture is
made from veneered particleboard; Too notchy: Trofast storage system [image: ikea.com]
who knows whatd happen if you cut
it? 5/8-in. thick sides of the tallest Tro- pre-drilled holes along the base of each
fast storage units [above] are either 11 piece, though, which kind of bugs.]
3/4 in. or 17 in. deep, but only 69 in.
tall. And some of them have regularly Maris table calls for more than 66 lin-
spaced grooves for sliding bins. ear feet of 1x2 wood underneath. Its
close, but the Mandals inner support
[Though it felt like cheating, I did rails may provide enough wood with-
check out readymade tabletops. The out buying extra pieces.
Too thin: Ikea pine bed slats [image: ikea.com] Vika Furuskog tabletop comes in pine,
and is 78 3/4 in. long, but only 23 5/8 The siderails are smoothly finished,
I dont doubt you could make a quint- in. wide; too narrow to use, too wide too, and each 78 in. piece is 3 in. wide
essentially Ikea Mari table by using to double up on.] on the outside face, tapering to 2 in.
only these kinds of components; the wide on the inside face. The unfin-
sleek, plastic-over-sawdust goodness The new Mandal bed [king-size, $249] ished pieces underneath the bed are Ivar shelving system [image: ikea.com]
of Ikeas signature Lack tables and comes really close to being the perfect either 7/8 x 1 3/4 in. [i.e., 1x2], or 1 3/4
shelves could make for a very concep- Mari table kit. It has a smoothly sealed square. Four 1 3/4 sq. pieces are 27 1/2 side units are their own standard di-
tually tight mashup, but thatll be the headboard and footboard of solid pine, inches long, just 1/4-in. longer than the mension--1 3/4 x 1 1/4 inches--which
second or third piece Id make, not the which, on the king size model, are each table leg specs. could be pulled apart and used as lum-
first. 78 in. long. The headboard is 23 1/2 ber. But its also tempting to use the
wide, and the footboard is 12; placed If more wood is needed, a $20, twin- ladder-like pieces whole. Both parts
The other major constraint is the top-to-top, theyd be 35 1/2 wide, sized Sultan Lade bed slat offers one of come in 70 1/4 and 89 lengths [$12,
length of the boards for the top. Only which isnt too far off. As a bonus, they the best options for raw wood. The 15 $15].
three products have decent width both have tapers on the bottom edge, slats are 2 3/4 x 3/4 x 38, with slightly
pine boards within range of 79 inches which would be nice on the underside beveled top corners. Maybe you could cut down [sic] on
[which is 200cm, if youre wondering of the tabletop. [There is also a row of the sawing required by just making
why Mari picked that length]: The the table to Ivars dimensions instead
of Maris. Then instead of a length-
wise shelf, you could build a top from
shorter 33 x 11 3/4-in. shelves [$6] set

I sit here trying to juggle the variables

to the best effect: faithfulness to Maris
original design; faithfulness to his con-
cept, which is not quite the same thing;
the inherent Ikea-ness of the inputs;
the quality and utility of the output;
the amount of tweaking, finishing, and
labor required.
Lack table [image: ikea.com] Ikea Mandal king-size bed [image: ikea.com]
Mari X IKEA 5

And I repeatedly find myself creating a fit it to Maris exact specifications, the Conveniently, Maris neat-but-arbi- conceptual awesomeness and shitty
conceptual justification for the path of process was becoming quite complex trary 200cm tabletop length was almost workmanship?
least resistance. All conceptual stunts and forced, and I realized this entire exactly the length of an 82-in. Ivar shelf
being equal, Im drawn toward the one point was being lost. with the metal bracket ends cut off. Id I know Maris autoprogettazione was
that involves the least labor and mess. just need three shelves to...whoops, in a critique of mass production and con-
Which turns out not to be the same as So I began seeing the Ikea lumber sui the intervening months since I began sumption, but is it a renunciation of
requiring the least time, cost, or effort, generis: it is not a source of raw ma- my calculatin, the shelves were dis- craft, too? If a laborer is virtuous for
as the 8-month over-analysis of mak- terial, it is the raw material. An Ikea continued. So on the fly, I ended up hammering together his own furniture
ing a simple table attests. Mari table would look like what it is, buying four 33-in. wide shelves, which at home, is he somehow less virtuous
I figured. So I decided to adapt Maris Ill place width-wise to make a 72-in. if he puts a hand-rubbed, organic tung
http://greg.org/archive/2008/06/08/ tables dimensions to the standardized long table. Its the opposite of Maris oil finish on it? As much as I embrace
enzo_mari_x_ikea_mashup_ch_2_ dimensions of the Ivar components. long plank top, but it seems better than Maris principles and the raw elegance
parts.html either a) scouring the countrys Ikeas of his design, as I look at my pile
Id heard from other folks who built an for leftover shelf stock, or b) buying a of low-grade pine shelving leaning
EFFE table that the 1x2 boards dont finished tabletop, which Ikea merrily against the wall, I confess, Im having
Ch. 3: feel that sturdy for table legs. Most sells by the containerload. a hard time giving up my desire for
Ivar boards are even thinner, so I de- a sweet, luxe patina. So while I could
Decisions cided to use the thicker, square corner But that means new proportions, new break out my awesome new Japanese
posts as legs. Rather than cut them dimensions, and figuring out how to saws and pound this table together in
posted by greg at April 17, 2009 12:02 PM down to boards and reassemble them brace short, wide boards as opposed to a day-- and I know itd feel extremely
as a 14-in. truss, I decided to leave the long, thin ones. Which got me wonder- Ikea if I did, and thats tight --I cant
So Im finally going to make my Enzo pre-assembled 12-in. Ivar sides intact, ing about the table tops functionality do it. Im going to get all finish fetishy,
Mari autoprogettazione table from then double them up to use as trusses. and stability. Do I need to end glue and see if I can make this table beauti-
Ikea components. A publicist from All these minor changes in dimension the shelves together for strength? Or ful as well as cool. Well see.
Ford had offered a Flex station wag- and proportion rippled through Maris is that kind of more involved wood-
on for a road trip, and last weekend, original design, requiring almost every working a betrayal of Maris original http://greg.org/archive/2009/04/17/
I took them up on it. Which meant I cut to be recalculated. knock-it-together concept? And what enzo_mari_x_ikea_mashup_ch_3_de-
could bring back the 89-in pieces of is the proper relationship between cisions_decisions.html
wood Id scoped out. So I did. Next I
will cut and finish the pieces. Then I
will assemble the table.

[Background: Last summer, I wrote

about wanting to make an Enzo Mari
dining table out of 1-by pine lumber,
which Mari chose in the early 1970s
because it was the humblest, most
ubiquitous, undesigned, standardized
material around. It was manifesto
furniture, a counter to both industrial-
scale production and the fetishization
of luxury design. Well, we all know
who won that fight.

Instead of my original plan, which

was to follow the letter of Maris in-
structions, and find some insanely
rare, beautiful pine lumber cut from
500-year-old trees that have been
submerged on a riverbottom for 200
years, I decided to go with the spirit.
The character-free pine lumber on ev-
ery corner today is Ikea furniture. So
I combed through Ikeas entire prod-
uct line to find the individual compo-
nents that were closest in dimensions
and finish to Maris original low-grade
pine boards. The result: the Ivar shelv-
ing system .]

One of the key principles of Maris au-

toprogettazione designs is that they
required no complicated woodwork-
ing, just a minimal number of simple,
straight cuts and some nails. As I was
studying the Ikea parts and calculating
the cuts and reworking necessary to Required Ivar shelving components [images: ikea.com]
6 Mari X IKEA

Nokogiri: cutting flush with a Japanese joinery saw. [image: greg.org]

planks together. From a strictly utili- that dont have any tung oil whatso-
tarian point of view you can use ply- ever in them. Many tung oil products
wood or chipboard. depend mostly on phenolic resins. You
have to buy from a source that is ex-
For the same reasons the construc- pert enough to know precisely what
tions are attractive if they are left is in their products and trustworthy
rough, with the saw marks, neither enough to tell you. In Canada, thats
planed nor varnished. Lee Valley, in the USA, Sutherland
Welles [http://www.sutherlandwelles.
I found this slightly obsessive discus- com/].
sion of finishing solid pine furniture
[http://www.sankey.ws/pine.html] to Sounds good to me.
be quite helpful, if a little daunting.
Two Ivar shelf sides cut to length form the tables center truss. Two more are cut down for the horizonal pieces of But already, it saved me from myself Sure enough, the extremely helpful
the table ends. [image: greg.org] and helped me lift my wood finish- folks at Sutherland and Welles guided
ing sights beyond the lying corporate me toward the right product for the
Mari added a few technical hints. shelves of Ace Hardware: project, a table with a top that will see
Ch. 4: Finish I love them, especially the quotation regular use. I expect Ill have enough
marks, even as I prepare to ignore First, however, a warning is needed: polymerized tung oil varnish and seal-
Fetish them a little and end up with some- there is zero truth in advertising in er to give the table a good five coats, if
thing less belle than it could be: the finish industry. Absolutely any- not the 10-12 that Sankey prefers.
posted by greg at April 25, 2009 12:17 AM thing can contain absolutely anything,
...Then, from a purely formal (sym- no matter what the label says. There Meanwhile, I mapped out each piece to
For the 2002 reissue of his 1974 bolic) and instructive point of view, are products out there labeled tung oil be cut onto the Ivar shelf components
catalogue, PROPOSTA PER table tops are attractive [belle] if
UNAUTOPROGETTAZIONE, Enzo they are made by putting several small

Cheat: I glued up four Ivar shelves for the top. I went to a wood shop so I could use big clamps, and I happily

used a table saw to remove the shelf brackets. Since I couldnt fit the full top in my car, I made two asymmetrical

My father-in-law gave me these awesome nokogiri Japanese saws. The Ivar side trusses are glued and stapled leaves. I joined them with perpendicular braces underneath, as the tabletop does not rest on the center truss. Mari

together. I worried about hitting a staple with the saw, but they were avoidable or removable. [image: greg.org] also added braces to his original design for the Metamobile kits. [image: greg.org
Mari X IKEA 7

basement. The picture above was how several short pieces, spliced together.
the wood sat for a week between the The shelves are the crappiest of all,
first coat and this morning, stacked on all glued up strips of varying quality,
our radiator [I moved it up after about which made it really hard to find rela-
24 hours when it wasnt quite cured, tively clear, relatively straight pieces.
and then my schedule got away from
me for the week.] Maris original instructions for the au-
toprogettazione furniture was to leave
Im sure its toxic and flammable and it completely unfinished and unsand-
what not, but the tung oil varnish is a ed. And that would have taken a hell
real, easy pleasure to work with. Goes of a lot less time, work, and money. I
on and off really nicely. Anyone whos expect the majority of buyers of Ikeas
made something from wood probably unfinished Ivar shelving system leave
knows this already, but the gradual it as is, too, opting for cheapness and
surface and finish improvements speed over a finish they just dont care
brought on by each step of the sand- about. Which means that assuming
vacuum-tack-apply-sit-wipe-dry-cure they dont think its wasted com-
cycle are fascinating to see. And you pletely, to most people, all the extra ef-
Sutherland Welles Tung Oil Varnish [image: greg.org] start to realize how most modern fur- fort to finish what is really low-grade
niture is really just an industrialized wood will be unappreciated, uninter-
with blue tape. I plan to cut everything approximation of what is only rarely esting, unwanted, or unnoticed. Its
to length, finish the parts while I can Ch. 5: In done by hand. Its like living in a world better than lipstick on a pig, but its
reach all the corners, and then assem- of Miracle Whip and never knowing pointed in that direction.
ble the table. And then give it a last Process [Rev.] theres a thing called mayonnaise.
coat or two for good measure. Some changes mid-course to the
posted by greg at May 23, 2009 2:07 PM Another couple of observations: Ikeas design:
The wood cost $120, the tung oil, $82. wood is really crappy, but some wood
An update on the Enzo Mari x Ikea au- is much crappier than others. The Ivar I dont know how I missed this during
http://greg.org/archive/2009/04/25/ toprogettazione table project: corner posts feel denser and stron- the months of calculating, recalculat-
enzo_mari_x_ikea_mashup_ch_4_fin- ger than the sides, for example, and ing, staring, checking, and shopping,
ish_fetish.html I just finished putting on the second make me glad I decided to use them but 1 3/4 inches is not the same as 1 5/8
coat of varnish sealer, and now ev- for the table legs. All these long pieces inches. Its 1/8 of an inch different. Can
erythings drying and curing in the of wood are engineered, made up of you believe that?

Parts cut and ready for pre-assembly finishing [image: greg.org] Tung oil varnish curing after 2nd coat. [image: greg.org]
8 Mari X IKEA

two taller sides, and then three long http://greg.org/archive/2009/05/23/

corners. Heres the revised parts list: enzo_mari_x_ikea_mashup_ch_5_in_
The new parts total cost: Ivar shelf
sides [2 x $15, 2 x $20 = $70]; Ivar cor-
ner posts [3 x $15 = $45]; Ivar shelves Ch. 5.5: Being
[3 x $15, 1 x $7.50 = $52.50]; subtotal:
$167.50. Mashed Up
Finish: Tung oil varnish [2 pints, $85 posted by greg at June 29, 2009 10:05 AM

or so]; sandpaper [12 sheets, $8]; tack

cloth [$4]; latex gloves [$4]; subtotal: I realized Id been putting off the ac-
$101. tual assembly of my Enzo Mari table,
daunted by the impending exactitude
Assembly: Nails [$5]; Wood glue [$4]; and fearful of the commitment of ac-
clamps [$16]; subtotal: $25. tually screwing all the pieces together.
Revised-on-the-fly measurements [image: christies.com]
So right now, were looking at $293.50, Which seems to fly in the face of Maris
This revelation only occurred to me corner wood, and which need to be more expensive than all but a cou- original just hammer it together in-
when I started piecing the trusses to- side wood. ple of the comparably sized dining tentions for the autoprogettazione
gether, just to see how theyd go. All tables at Ikea, and almost the exact series.
the diagonals above were originally The only solution was to head off to same price [$299] as the Forsby, made
made from the ladder-shaped, 1 3/4- Ikea and buy enough corner post [6x18 from finished solid pine. In the years I knew that without jigs and a flat sur-
in. bookcase sides, while the legs and inches, basically] to make all the di- since 1974, when Mari and Ikea both face and proper squaring equipment
the verticals were from the square, 1 agonals. This altered the minimum/ launched concepts for low-cost design and such, I was invariably going to
5/8-in corner posts. But the diagonals, optimum number of Ivar parts that are for the everyman, it appears Ikea has misdrill something, and then Id be try-
then, were too wide, and the trusses required to build the table: basically, lapped autoprogettazione more than a ing to redrill holes 1/8th of an inch to
wouldnt lay flat. The diagram above you could get two shorter sides and few times. the left somewhere, and--
shows which pieces need to be square
The joint that really made me nervous
was the first one Id have to do, drill-
ing a 5/16 hold through the center of
all the side truss pieces [right about
where the knot is in this photo] AND
through the ends of the center truss,
so that I could thread a carriage bolt
through, and hold the entire table to-
gether properly. Forever.

Rather than risk screwing this up, I de-

cided to piece each truss together with
a steel bookend, and then hammer
and wood glue enough joints to hold
it. Then Ill drill and screw the major
joints after its together.

I hadnt thought of how much those

simple wingnuts changed the nature
of the autoprogettazione concept.
Theyre the difference between project
and product.

The Metamobile kits werent just pre-

cut wood; they were also predrilled.
And that required the construction
of jigs, the use of some workshop- or
factory-grade hardware, and probably
even an assembly line, or at least some
batch work. In other words, they were
exactly what the autoprogettazione
series was supposed to not be: mass

Furniture sold as a kid of parts that

comes ready to assemble, with just one
tool, just follow the slightly baffling in-
Revised Ivar components list [images: ikea.com] struction diagrams exactly, and voila!
Mari X IKEA 9

Also, I was kind of lazy, not wanting to

schlep back and forth to the basement
with all these pieces, and all the drills
and Dremels and tarps and stuff. But
I finally took the leap, rolled the carpet
in the living room back, and just start
to work.

Sure enough, the first nail I put in

popped out of the piece below at a
weird angle, and I had to hammer it
out and redo it. [And glue and clamp
the split piece underneath, which
wont be visible anyway, because
it ended up on the inside of a truss.]
Sometimes, the nail will hit a pre-
drilled hole, and itll just sink through.

I was worried for a while about which

way I should turn each piece. If I
turned too many pieces with the holes
facing inward, would the table lose
some of its eventual Ikeaness?

Turns out I didnt need to worry; the

holey, prefab, repurposed nature of
the wood comes shining through from
multiple angles.
Test assembly of the tables three structural elements, originally for marking bolt holes. That clamp is holding together a split repair which I made with my first nail. [image:

greg.org] One thing I found, though, is that

knots near the end of a piece of wood
Sound familiar? Enzo Mari beat me to series...Acquired directly from Dino can screw you. Because the surround-
an Ikea mashup by about 35 years. Gavina, c. 1975, sold for $14,400 [so- Ch. 5.6: ing wood was so soft, the angle of one
thebys.com] particularly gnarly knot kept deflect-
Related: Assembly ing my nails. I finally gave up, glued
http://greg.org/archive/2009/06/29/ it, and left it for the drill&screw phase.
14 June 2000, Lot 103: ENZO enzo_mari_x_ikea_mashup_being_ Notes
MARI, A PINE DINING TABLE mashed_up.html Next time, though, Id watch when I
designed 1973, manufactured by Si- [originally posted by greg as captions on flickr photos, cut the pieces, so that knots--or Ikeas
mon International for the Metamobile June 27, 2009 toothy zigzag joints--dont end up near
Series, the square slatted top on open the ends.
understructure secured by wing- After weeks of rather tedious but sat-
nuts, sold for 5,875. [christies.com] isfying parts finishing, I finally started When the three pieces were done, I test
assembling the trusses for the table. assembled them. The center truss piv-
Dec 15, 2006, Lot 2: ENZO MARI, AN I realized I was a bit hesitant to com- ots and slots into place in the two side
EXTREMELY RARE EFFE TABLE mit to nailing or screwing the pieces trusses, and two giant carriage bolts
Manufactured by Simon Interna- together. Itd make holes in the wood, with wingnuts will eventually hold
tional, ca. 1974. from the Metamobile and theres no [easy] turning back. that center post [with the X] in place.

Square Table, Enzo Mari, 1973, Metamobile kit of pre-cut [and pre-drilled] lumber assembled with both nails and

bolts & wing nuts. [image: christies.com]

10 Mari X IKEA

closely, you see that even the simplest

board is actually made up of several
pieces of wood, spliced together.

Its never the same, either. Each iden-

tical-seeming 72-in. post is unique. Its
almost like they piece all these scraps
together with this insane, zig-zag scarf
joint, into a single, endless piece of
wood, which gets extruded, drilled,
and cut to length on the other end.

Once you notice these joints--this one

is the highest-contrast of the whole
pile--your eyes are drawn to them, like
learning a new word and suddenly
hearing it everywhere.

The shelves are glued up from pine

strips, thats obvious. But was I really
so focused on selecting the right
color ranges that I didnt notice this
string of lozenge-shaped plugs which
filled a massive gap in one of the the
shelves? I think that will be the tables
dog footprint.

Ikeaness: Ivar shelf corner post, with scarf joint [image: greg.org] enzo_mari_x_ikea_mashup_ch_6_
[Thats how the original precut wood square with the artful flaw, a footprint after spending so much time finishing
kits from Simon Intls Metamobile se- from a wandering dog. this wood, Im starting to dig its indus-
ries were put together.] trial qualities, its intrinsic Ikeaness. Ch. Last
Woodworking aficionados get off on
What is obvious, but I didnt think of things like grain patterns and joinery, Ikeas IVAR shelving system is made posted by greg at November 24, 2009 11:28 AM

beforehand, is that the center truss the more intricate the better. So its at from unfinished pine, but thats barely
needs room to pivot. Id kind of as- once surprising and totally not that half the story. When you start looking A quick recap:
sumed the side truss diagonals could
be freehanded in, and that their angle
and distance from the center didnt re-
ally matter. But if theyre too close--as
they almost are on one of my trusses-
-they might not give enough radius
for the center truss, and youll have to
rubber mallet it into place. [And then
back out, since youre not done. And
by you, I mean me.]

These assembled trusses will all get 2-3

additional coats of tung oil varnish be-
fore the table comes together. The top
will get 4-5.


Ch. 6:
posted by greg at June 7, 2009 11:00 PM

The tile in the guest bathroom in North

Carolina was handmade and sun-dried
in Mexico, as you can tell by the single
Ikeaness 2: Patch-on-patch automated repairs [image: greg.org]
Mari X IKEA 11

Done. November 24, 2009 [image: greg.org]

An EFFE table based on a 1974 design side trusses. [The center truss uses two Though Enzo Maris original design
by Enzo Mari, but made entirely from trusses intact, while the end trusses calls for the low-grade pine to remain Related: Enzo
unfinished pine components of Ikeas use disassembled pieces.] The top is untreated, I decided to finish the en-
Ivar shelving system . The vertical and glued up from four Ivar shelves, which tire thing with Sutherland Welles tung Mari X Rirkrit
diagonal elements are the square cor- are braced underneath. [compare to oil varnish. Components received five
ner posts. [ Some revisions were made Maris original design below.] coats of wiping varnish, with sanding Tiravanija
mid-construction. ] Horizontal ele- in between, before the trusses were
ments are the pre-assembled shelving constructed [finishing nails and #10 posted by greg at April 25, 2009 5:01 PM

stainless screws]. The trusses and top

then received six more coats of medi- As Ive said before , the first Enzo
um lustre varnish. The top will get two Mari autoprogettazione furniture I
more, then a final sanding with steel ever saw was by Rirkrit Tiravanija. He
wool. had tables and chairs fabricated from
polished stainless steel, which his gal-
Not only did the varnish cost more lery from Mexico City, kurimanzutto,
than the wood, all this hand-finishing showed at Basel and a couple of other
turns out to be an insane amount of fairs a few years ago.
time and effort. Even so, the incredibly
uneven quality of the Ikea pine resists They weighed a ton and cost a fortune-
a fine finish. This top may be concep- -as furniture, anyway; as sculpture,
tually ideal, but a more practical solu- they seemed like a bargain--but they
tion may be required if we decide to looked spectacular.
use the table daily.
Rirkrit hit a zone in his work then
http://greg.org/archive/2009/11/24/ where he was re-creating various ex-
enzo_mari_x_ikea_mashup_ch_last. amples of modernistic furniture and
Maris book contains labels to be used for completed projections. [image: greg.org] html architecture in mirrored stainless steel;
12 Mari X IKEA

Untitled (Autoprojettazione, 1123 xE/1123 xR), Rirkrit Tiravanija, 2004 [image: kurimanzutto] Just builting 32 Enzo Mari tables [image: peter nencini]

there was a ping pong table ; several Then theres Wallpaper magazine few 1 or 2% understood the meaning that those two tiny, so-enlightened
corner assemblages using three Smith- [http://www.wallpaper.com/gallery/ of the experiment...Enzo Mari hoped populations are the same, but Im not
son-esque, non-site mirrors; and an interiors/autoprogettazione-revisit- that the idea of Autoprogettazione at all sure Mari would agree with her.
entire chrome pavilion in Bilbao. The ed-at-the-aa-london/17051392/21803] would last into the future. Autopro-
effect was to simultaneously aestheti- swooping in with Autoprogettazione gettazione Revisited reveals that it has
cize the original and dematerialize Revisted at the Architecture Asso- done just that. Not all of the artist/de-
the substantial object on display, turn ciation in London, where AA students signer responses in Autoprogettazione
them into non-objects. Which is kind and a few name designers show off Revisited can be duplicated by the en-
of ironic, since theyre among the most their Mari-inspired hacks, and theres thusiast, but they are inspirational and
atypically beautiful works the suppos- even a lecture by Mari himself, which without a doubt follow the Mari prin-
edly non-object-oriented [heh] artist is alternately animated and tedious, ciple that by thinking with your own
has made. and thanks to the on-the-fly transla- hands, by [making] our own thoughts
tion, twice as long as it would normal- you make them clearer. [http://www.
http://greg.org/archive/2009/04/25/ ly be. aaschool.ac.uk/Downloads/Autopro-
enzo_mari_x_rirkrit_tiravanija.html gettazione_Revisited_instructions_
But even as I worry a bit about miss- web.pdf]
ing a trend--or worse, finding my-
Autopro- self caught up in one--Im reading Ive always understood Maris project
the AAs catalogue and instructions to be a critique of the self-important
gettazione for the show --because yeah, Id to- distinction between the artist/de-
tally make Kueng-Caputos awesome signer and the enthusiast. In his
Updates From
la lampada a stelo, Kueng-Caputo, 09.2009 [image:
lamp [http://www.kueng-caputo.ch], lecture, Mari actually said that of the aaschool.ac.uk]
wouldnt you?--and I find this: many thousands of requests for Au-
All Over toprogettazione plans, only 1-2% of [thanks andy for the links.]
Mari was ultimately disappointed them were from design professionals.
posted by greg at October 28, 2009 1:21 PM with the original response to Autopro- I can totally imagine the head of an http://greg.org/archive/2009/10/28/
gettazione, believing that only a very architecture school gallery thinking autoprogettazione_updates_from_all_
Autoprogettazione Updates From All over.html

Sheesh, as if I wasnt painfully aware Credits

of the nearly finished Enzo Mari x Ikea
Mashup table sitting behind my sofa, I Enzo Mari X IKEA is an anthology of
get this, from Peter Nencini [http://pe- posts from greg.org: the making of. It
ternencini.blogspot.com/2009/10/joint- is published in a limited edition.
effort.html], which frankly just hurts:
The Enzo Mari X IKEA table, 2007-9, is
A couple of weeks ago we reassem- the first in a series.
bled 32 studio tables, originally built
last year to Enzo Maris Autoproget- Copyright 2010 Greg Allen and greg.
tazione plans, published in 1974. org. Images are copyright as credited.

Ill assume that theyre not putting

twelve coats of hand-rubbed tung oil
on theirs. At least I can hope my next
31 tables will go much more quickly. Lot 73, Enzo Mari PROPOSTA PER UN AUTOPROGETTAZIONE Milan, Galleria Milano, 1974. Cat. in-16

litalienne, Vendu EUR 497 [artcurial.com]

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