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Low Cost Design

Low Cost Design
vol.I

Low Cost Design vol.I


a book by
Daniele Pario Perra


with the partecipation of
Emiliano Gandolfi

texts by
Beppe Finessi
Francesco Morace
Pierluigi Sacco






Silvana Editoriale
www.silvanaeditoriale.it

introduction

This volume is founded on a principle upheld by leading designers: the best project is not necessarily the one that is patented, that is created by architectural firms or at the computer by leading companies, but rather the one that springs from the simplicity of daily life. Starting from this concept Daniele Pario Perra presents here the results of a vast research project carried out between Northern Europe and the Southern Mediterranean, in the course of which he documented thousands of examples of spontaneous creativity, creating a visual dictionary that strikes a constant balance between "poetic skill" and "technological skill". The ideas presented are the creations of authors we don't know. They are classified according to different levels of research (five different design levels for objects, six categories for actions) and stimulate reflection on the recovery and re-use of materials. Above all, they present a very interesting picture from a sociological, urbanistic and ethnographic stand point. This is a book that involves us by taking a far-reaching, free-ranging, eclectic and radical look at our daily life.

All images are selected from the archive Low-cost Design by Daniele Pario Perra and were taken by the artist - Images and photographic prints produced in the CentralColor laboratories, Catania

Low Cost Design is a work in progress: contributions feedback and suggestions staff@lowcostdesign.org

Low Cost Design
20 x 28 cm
216 pages
320 colour illustrations
paperback with flaps
italian/english edition
EAN 97888-3661665-7
€ 35,00

object one

elementary objects


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In this first part we find simple objects that change use from their initial design. Among the most interesting examples are a bowl that becomes a washbasin and a shutter converted into a wall-hung magazine rack, fishing nets used to keep out birds, a terracotta flowerpot used for a barbecue, and gym shoes cut down to be worn as slippers. All elementary objects, without special structural alterations but that suggest new designs or enhance the functionality of the original products.

object two

developed objects


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From this level on we begin to perceive a greater development of design and broader market applications. Here we also find objects that radically change their functions, revealing the extraordinary inventive abilities of their creators. Among the most interesting examples are rubber soccer balls used as floats for fishing nets and buoys, a bottle used to dose fertilizer for plants, and a wooden bridge for cats. Some objects, together with the novelty of the application, reveal important synergies between form and the material they are made of, like a bean can transformed into a grater or plastic bottle stoppers turned into a painter's palette. The first is hygienically valid because made of enamelled metal, the second is easily washable and perfectly convenient.

object three

optimized objects


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This level show us designs where the change in the original function is enhanced by the designer's capacity for abstraction and symbolization. In such objects communication revisited and evocation play an interesting part: this happens with the outdoor ashtray in the form of a cigarette, or the bench assembled out of used skateboards. Then we find the first "conceptual short circuits" which, by their capacity to break with the original contexts, include inventions with new added values. Examples are the diver's mask used for chopping onions or the compact disc used to scare birds thanks to the effects of refraction of light, or the woollen hood used as a coffeepot cosy.

object four

elaborate objects


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Elaborate objects, together with the complete objects which we will see below, clearly reveal the signs of interdisciplinary design. We have combinations in which a simple plastic funnel becomes the perfect instrument to protect the filters for collecting fine particles (PM), while keeping out the rain, but at the same time without reducing the exposure to air. There appear the first objects that function in relation to animal behaviour, like the bottles filled with water which, by distorting the image reflected, dissuade dogs from urinating on columns. Often a multi functional object is not equivalent to a technically more elaborate machine, but is a device useful to deal with more complex needs through an imaginative approach. Here, too, there is no shortage of objects reinvented which entail the development of the original functions, like the tennis balls set under chair legs to protect carpets, or a skidproof tray for waiters, or the corks fitted to saucepan lids with iron handles as protection against burnt fingers. Essentially this is a more mature stage of design directed to the satisfaction of needs through more complex approaches than before, whole also increasing the market applications.

object five

complete objects


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The fifth level is the summit of this design survey by its completeness and effectiveness, but above all by the high degree of simplicity, which is inversely proportional to the importance of the task or function performed. This is the case of the slice of bread that serves to absorb disagreeable smells and damp from clothing in a wardrobe in a way that no deodorant would ever succeed in doing. Also at this level we meet objects that interact with animal behaviour: the special handles to open doors for dogs, or golf balls used as nest eggs to stimulate hens to lay. And finally we come to those inventions that directly influence human behaviour. In this respect we have the antiparking systems or the sheet of polythene placed over displays of candies as sound alarms to deter theft. We have also discovered a large intercultural capacity for design, with spring-loaded chopsticks or corks with pins reused to winkle sea snails from their shells. This is the level at which intuition, technological simplification and interdisciplinary knowledge give rise to minor masterpieces of human intelligence, both by their conceptual quality and their cheap production costs.

action one

private territorial planning


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The chapter on private territorial planning groups together the actions of all social groups that plan or produce works in public space. Through processes of comparison and aggregation, conformity to the institutions and variations in habits, the groups reappropriate the places of everyday life. Before our eyes there appear familiar yet extraordinary and unexpected landscapes: where the washing lines are interwoven with the posts of bilboards, the windows of houses are converted into shopwindows, the beautiful statuettes of patron saints or little votive shrines dear to popular piety stand at the centre of neighbourhood piazzas. A reflection on the overlaps between public and private, between the regular and approved uses of places and alternative uses, entrusted to the independent and creative reinterpretation of individuals; a territory half-way between responsibility and the rights of all and the desire to affirm personal freedom regardless of the rules or established conventions.

action two

creative commerce


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In this section we have brought together some examples of street vending revisited in creative and original ways: trades with a very old tradition that have withstood the test of time and can be considered the ancestors of today's "flexible working". Vendors travel at regular intervals through neighbourhoods, towns and cities, considering mobility their strong point.The forms of transport they use to enable goods to circulate are skilfully equipped to promote a real communication advertising campaign on the streets. Their sales strategies, commercial rhetoric and skills are not exercised in complete anarchy but governed by a complex set of unwritten rules, though tacitly respected by all.The guaranteed supply of goods is often backed up by supplementary services tailored to customers' needs: assistance and home deliveries, repairs in case of defects in the products sold, sometimes even hire purchase facilities without bills of exchange. These "laws" are the result of the close relations between the parties which have always typified all kinds of commerce in established societies.

action three

interactions between public planning and private design


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Public planning and the design of the city by individuals influence each other. This is one of the most complex chapters, because it reflects on behavioural differences between two entities, sometimes separated only by very narrow boundaries. It is a creative type of interaction that represents both a meeting point and a clear line of demarcation between public and private. Individuals often plan public spaces, behaving as if they were state institutions, while institutions draw on solutions undertaken by private citizens in the management of the territory and services. We find illegal garbage skips placed by citizens at the roadsides and regularly emptied by the municipal garbage service. Or palm cut down to a chair by council workers and parking barriers converted to support flower boxes and a table by the owner of the nearby café. Or we find mailboxes attached to the posts supporting road signs, so saving the mailman the trouble of entering side streets to deliver the mail. These initiatives produce an exchange of roles and functions: they assign greater responsibility to private citizens in the logistics of public services, while inviting the institutional authorities to make more flexible and less bureaucratic administrative arrangements.

action four

personal solutions to the shortcomings of public services


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At times the residents of the city make up for the shortcomings of public services and the design deficiencies in their territory by dealing with matters in their own way, using their own resources, because of the lengthy delays in the public sector. Some citizens, for example, themselves repair bush shelters and make them more comfortable. Others take measures to deter parking on the boundaries between public and private property. Still others install mirrors to help guide both pedestrians and drivers on dangerous corners, or paint street names where they are missing. All private initiatives, and the fruit of self-management of the territory, but equally embodying an idea of collective service that already has the value of a political response.

action five

social and commercial communications


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This section brings together different ways of communicating through the use of objects that become symbolic vehicles of artistic expression or advertisements. These are effective messages with strong visual components transformed into new codes of urban communication. Examples are mailboxes in the form of national or religious symbols intended to convey the origins of the owner, or soccer balls cut on church doors, used as warnings. These objects define social status and community loyalties through symbols with an ideological, political, cultural, religious or merely commercial value. These signs, taken all together, and their codes of interpretation form the stratified and complex identity of a broader human environment that continually projects its image outwards.

action six

personal security and control of the territory


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When private citizens work to maintain their personal security or influence, the control of the territory is no longer treated only as an issue of law and order but as a form of expansion and appropriation by the groups living there, both legally and illegally. Though of different kinds, they both share a defensive attitude, a need for protection. Some put rear vision mirrors on the balconies of their homes to monitor the entrance for outsiders; others position reflecting surfaces at the street corners so as to keep an eye out for the (unwelcome) arrival of the police. The underlying problems, excluding illegality, remain security and lack of respect for the written and unwritten rules that control the relations between the residents of a single territory.

bio

who


Daniele Pario Perra is a relational artist, researcher and designer engaged in exhibitions, research projects and teaching. His work ranges across different disciplines: art, design, sociology, anthropology, architecture and geopolitics. For some years now he has been exploring spontaneous creativity, cultural trends and patterns of urban development in a constant relationship between material culture and symbolic heritage. In 2001 he started the Low-cost Design database, which contains over 7000 photographs of the transformations of objects and public spaces in Europe and around the Mediterranean, published in two volumes by Silvana Editoriale. Low-cost Design is also a travelling exhibition with more 100 objects worldwide collected starting from the same year. Daniele Pario Perra studied the performances and rituals of street trading in Sicily in the "Economic Borders" project. He investigated spontaneous communication in various European cities with the "Fresco Removals" format, teaching people, in real urban actions, how to store notable examples of wall writing and graffiti before their cancellation. His first monograph, Politics Poiesis, was published in 2005: it contains a long list of ideas, stimuli and projects devoted to contemporary art in urban contexts.

Daniele Pario Perra has taught at the Faculty of Architecture of La Sapienza University in Rome, at the Delft University of Technology, at the Milan Polytechnic and at the Denver Univeristy in Colorado. His workshops – Fantasy Saves the Planning, Art Shakes the Politics, Anarchetiquette/ Fresco Urban Removals, Design on the Cheap and Politics Poiesis – have many editions in major European cities. Between 2000 and 2010 he exhibited works, devised urban actions and coordinated projects between Rome, Milan, Turin, Sarajevo, Barcelona, Chicago, Rotterdam, Berlin, New York, Bern, Paris, Marseille, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, Ljubljana, Denver, Belgrade, Budapest and London.

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Cost_Design
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniele_Pario_Perra

contact

contact



Low Cost Design:
Staff@lowcostdesign.org