Sheets of plywood overprinted with a network of coloured lines are the basis of 2440x1220 Saw, Assemble: an ingeniously simple do-it-yourself furniture range by Swedish designer Pål Rodenius. The lines correspond to a set of shapes that can be cut around with a jigsaw to create seven pieces of basic home furniture.
Rodenius, a graduate of Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, explains: "If you use your jigsaw to follow the green line you get a chair and a table, the red line gives a bench and a shelf and following the blue line gives you a bed, bedside table and clothes stand. To do the complete collection you need three sheets of plywood."
The idea for Rodenius' playful project emerged from studying clothing patterns published in the German magazine Burda. Inspired by their simplicity, he was compelled to adopt the pattern system for furniture production. "The challenge for me has been to make furniture that is as simple as possible to inspire people to build things on their own," says Rodenius. "I developed this project as a starting point for people who want to get into furniture design and carpentry."
With this aim, every aspect of cutting and assembling the pieces has been designed to be child's play. Like a model aeroplane or scaled-up version of something you'd find in a Kinder Egg, the rounded parts slot together without the need for glue or screws. Like Philippe Nigro's cardboard chair and table range for Skitsch (2009), it's a neat study in standard sizes, economical layouts and the possibilities of flatpack. Decorated only with the traces of redundant lines, the finished furniture brings to mind the marks of tailors' chalk on raw fabric, no doubt the graphic influence of the Burda clothes patterns.
2440x1220 Saw, Assemble comes out of an established school of counter-consumerist philosophy. In 1974, Italian designer Enzo Mari (Icon 078) gave away instruction books for his Autoprogettazione, self-design furniture that could be made using pieces of pre-cut pine and a few nails. In 2006, embracing the open-source potential of the internet and desire for sustainable design, Studiomama made a success of its celebrated Pallet Chairs – offering cheap downloadable instructions for creating furniture from reclaimed wood pallets.
Rodenius says: "People are starting to question what they consume and what role designers have these days. And that's a good thing. I think the gesture of doing things yourself makes things more personal. I love to see that happen."