Evolve & Co.

Stories of small-scale making

Antoni Aparicio
What does a ‘bricolage shop’ look like? This kiosk displays an assortment of items such as toothbrushes made of wood and pig bristles, or slippers made from cork and bike tyres. Despite being displayed in blisters, within easy reach, they are not for general sale, as each one has been made to measure for a specific client, attending to their personal needs and employing materials provided by them. Materialising these everyday products from a bricoleur standpoint, that is, producing them from a range of different techniques and available materials, I attempt to envision a way of making and designing that rejects overconsumption and resource depletion. 

During my research I observed that fabrication methods influence consumer dynamics more than the other way around; careless and automated production promotes careless and automatic overconsumption. Craft, then, can be a way of producing in a slow and careful manner in order to influence a slower pace of consumption. But what if I stop trying to influence consumption altogether? This question led me to explore what I define as ‘evolutive’ design methods.

The traditional industrial design methodology can be seen as a ‘creationist’ approach to making, aiming at an ideal outcome and channelling all available resources to make it possible. This chase of the ideal product, iteration after iteration, fuels a constant exploitation of resources. This project proposes bricolage as an alternative way of producing material goods, which cares for the needs of its immediate community and employs only the most locally available resources. Bricolage, as described by anthropologist and philosopher Claude Lévi-Strauss, represents an ‘evolutive’ approach to design, which looks at the minimum requirements for a particular solution and uses the closest available resources to satisfy them. By attending to manifest needs with site-specific making, one can minimise the impact of fabrication but also question how urgent those needs were in the first place.

I consider the role of the bricoleur to be distinct from that of the designer and the artisan in their way of approaching the birth of a new product. Growing up, I saw many items being crafted by my parents using the materials they had at hand. I always wanted to make things too, which eventually prompted me to pursue a creative career, and during my research I found that the missing links between product design, craft, and the examples of creation carried out by my parents have been conceptualised already as bricolage. Positioning myself as a bricoleur, I take on requests from clients visiting the kiosk and use materials provided by them to provide ‘good enough’ solutions. It is precisely the spontaneity which embeds them with beauty – after all, evolution aims for sufficiency, not ‘excellence.’

During my period as a Master of Industrial Design student, I have come to expand my understanding of design as a method of critical exploration and communication. I have also had the opportunity to observe many examples of beautiful and inspiring spontaneous solutions. In the future, I would like to expand this form of design as a situated and site-specific practice.