A living manifesto in ten objects.

#1 armchair


A manifest

I believe design is a form of storytelling. It’s strength is to give life to matter and get it weave relationships with people. Design is a storytelling capable of activating industries, workers and craftsmen, persuading CEOs, attracting investors, producing market shares, changing costumes and innovating traditions. Sometimes design is also capable of triggering and giving shape to social transformation. Carte Blanche pursues the idea of design as a storytelling able to transform ourselves. An idea of design which is not intended to produce objects but knowledge. Each storytelling establishes an intimate relationship with the listener. Here, my designer voice and language will tell the story. Drawings, diagrams, schemes, they will all tell a poem of living made of objects which you will create by your own, and with my help, if you wish.

A poem engraved in marble has not more value than a poem written on the back cover of a book, on the pages of a crumpled notebook or on the rear of a wrinkled receipt. I do not believe in the material determining the universal value of poetry. On the contrary, I believe that a poor nature of a material better tells the urgency and fragility of poetry in all its immensity. The simple fact of being «here and now» where the poem itself occurs, the context in which it is conceived and lived. The same can be said of the peculiar poetry of objects which we refer to with a word of very ancient origins. A word that we sometimes use as a noun, sometimes as an adjective, but also as a verb: «design». Its meaning is somehow vague, but at the same time assertive. It refers to that form of art which was born at the beginning of the last century during the so-called industrial revolution. Based on this assumption, I selected the poorest and easiest to work construction material to produce an object for living. A fresh wooden profile. Something that grows fast and is easy to shape, whose base and height are related to each other. A humble material which is used to build the roofs of houses, partition walls, cellar doors, the illusions and the expectations of theatre stages.

This narrative approach to the project, to the material, to the relationship between things, can be seen as a form of self-liberation. It is typical of designing archetypes, which I believe can be traced back to the great tradition of ancient treatises. In our area, this was inaugurated by the most ancient document of its kind reaching us, i.e. the De Architectura, written by Marco Vitruvio Pollione between 15 4 and 30 BC. The book describes i.a. architecture as an art of construction and as a kind of civilization process of humanity taking place through it. In more recent times, however, I believe we can refer to the first avant-gardes and to the attempt of Thayaht, an artist who tried to dress society with an autarchic cloth made of hemp, which all the peasants in Italy produced and wove at that time. The TuTa (1918) which word represented the motto tout-de-même, i.e., all the same, was like a unisex dress. It was intended for all kind of activities and all seasons. It was designed to be self-made by following the patterns and precise instructions given by Thayath. Its distribution took place through the newspapers of the time. Its scope was to reach production delegated to the resilient manual skills of a finally modern world. Several excellent episodes followed during the twentieth century in this sense.

Carte Blanche, it will include a collection of ten objects for living that can be made by anyone, anywhere, following a few suggestions made by me. It is a nude collection, with the idea that there is no specific design intended for the rich or the poor, a democratic and authoritarian design, a critical and an uncritical design, a committed and an uninvolved design, a political and an apolitical design, a sustainable and an unsustainable design. I think these are the essential qualities that define the nature of design nowadays, as a poetic form that infuses the soul into objects. Ten objects to live as a set of scenes for our drama or daily comedy, of which each of us can be the author. Find here some instructions.


A, B, C: FSC-certified fir strips, planed and sized 2×4.5x60cm. The profiles are available in length of 1 m or 2,5 m and can be bought in any DIY store (e.g., Coopbau, Jumbo, Migros DoIt, Bauhaus etc.). With this scheme you can get the pieces cut on site. Try to select the profiles with fewer knots and as straight as possible. In total 11 pieces are required: 4 of each type A and C, and 3 of type B. The difference between the three profile types is only given by the different wood processing which will follow.

D1, D2: Fir wooden panel of class B, 40 cm wide and 1,8 cm thick. Length is variable. We suggest to choose a 120 cm wooden board and get it cut on site. Taking into account that 3 mm is required for cutting, the result will be two 59.85 mm pieces.

E: Drywall screws, 3.5×35 mm, black.
F: Electric drill / screwdriver with a 3mm wood drill bit.
G: Hole saw drill bit, ø80 mm.
H: Screwdriver; we recommend to use an electric screwdriver.
I: Pencil.
L: Extensible measuring tape.
M: Drywall screws, 3.5×45 mm, black.


Mark with the pencil the measures shown on each end of profiles type A and B.


Use the 3 mm wood drill tip to drill the holes on each end of the strips according to the measures of point II. Use the two first profiles A and B as an example to drill following strips. We suggest placing a scrap under the profiles while drilling to avoid damage to the underlying surface.


Fasten profile B to the end of a profile C. Check perfect perpendicularity of the joint. Fasten second profile B at 35 cm from the bottom end of profile C. Repeat these steps to obtain the two «portals» forming the base of the chair structure.


1. Turn the previously assembled portal by 90 degrees and insert a profile A under profile B, in perfect correspondence with profile C. We suggest to place a profile under to create a levelled surface to facilitate the screwing of the profile. 2. Repeat these steps for the other portal. 3. Fasten another profile A under the crossbar B. 4. Repeat these steps but pay attention to the fact that: profile A must now be fastened above crossbar B to grant the inclination of the chair.


Take the two boards D1 and D2 and use the pencil to mark the place for drilling. Drill the holes by using the 3 mm wood drill bit for D1 and the 80 mm hole saw drill bit for board D2.


Place and centre the previously assembled seat. The rear part of the seat will be flush with the frame, while the front will protrude by a few centimetres.


Take board D2 and place it on the seat. Fasten it with the screws from below through the holes drilled according to point VI.


Fasten the back of the chair with two screws from the rear. Do not forget to drill the frame profile first. Make coffee and seat down. You deserve it.

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Illustration: Antonio Scarponi