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Comments Posted 12.05.09 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Alexandra Lange

Dumbing Down DIY


A propos of Todd Oldham and modernist innovation, and Duchampian transformations of the everyday into art, and the depressing packaging of creativity into neat little kits, I give you the DIY Anni Albers Strainer and Paper Clips Jewelry Kit. At Urban Outfitters. Part of a line of products, many now marked down to $4.99 This is cheaper than if you bought the parts at the hardware store like Albers did. This is also the dumbing down of the DIY movement. Yes, you have to thread those washers on a string yourself, but what else did you do? Click and ship.

I have long been meaning to try a washer necklace myself (instructions here at The Small Object)—Oldham features this very necklace as an inspiration piece in Kid Made Modern, but instead has kids make a version of her bobby pin necklace using mardi gras beads, a trinkety project — but I would have gone to the hardware store and browsed the different sizes of washers, perhaps used some of that ribbon that I picked out of the crush of wrappings after Christmas (I never buy new ribbon). My result would have been derivative, sure, but I would have made it my own. UO isn’t offering that option. If you read the website’s fine print, this is a product licensed by the Albers Foundation. Is this the only way?

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Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.
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BOOKS BY Alexandra Lange

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Design Research
Chronicle Books, 2010

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