In 1971 Victor Papanek wrote his seminal Design for the Real World, a book I'm hoping is still required reading for modern-day design students. (Sample quote: "Much recent design has satisfied only evanescent wants and desires, while the genuine needs of man have often been neglected by the designer." Still valid today, yeah?)
Two years later Papanek, along with co-author and fellow designer James Hennessey, released Nomadic Furniture. Coming out a full year before Enzo Mari's Autoprogettazione, Papanek and Hennessey's book shared with readers "How to build and where to buy lightweight furniture that folds, inflates, knocks down, stacks, or is disposable and can be recycled," and was loaded with diagrams of DIY plans to that effect. Some of the plans encouraged readers to explore the structural properties of cardboard:
Others looked at the use of non-furniture materials in furniture:
There were plans for plywood furniture that could be constructed without fasteners...
...and some using every last bit of a single sheet of plywood:
And clever double-duty items, like this beanbag chair that could be used, while moving house, to protect delicates:
Some plans focused on existing products, and either suggested how to make your own or revealed sources for less expensive DIY kits:
For the most part, the designs are still relevant today. This table/sideboard with pivoting leaves seems very similar to a modern-day Hafele product we captured on video at Holz-Handwerk:
But occasionally, some relics of the past do creep into the drawings, as we see in the audio equipment of this Entertaining Cube:
Used paperbacks of Nomadic Furniture can be had for as little as $4.49 on Amazon. The follow-up, 1974's Nomadic Furniture 2, goes for a little more at $9.45.
In 2008, ten years after Papanek's death, the two books were combined and re-released as Nomadic Furniture: D-I-Y Projects That Are Lightweight and Light on the Environment. That one'll set you back 25 bucks new. Alas, there is no Kindle edition.
Sample pages via Knitting Iris
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I used this book so much as ID student in the late 90s. It is great.
Viktor Papanek was a pioneer in green design and a courtly gentleman. I videotaped him lecturing at MA College of Art and Design in the 1990s. The tape is digitized and someday I might even put it online. So glad I took the opportunity to meet him and learn from him when he was in my neighborhood.
Hi George! Ping us if/when it goes online -- would love to post it here on Core77.