joseph grima: manifests self-production

Entry hall of “Adhocracy” – a strong word that carries the definition of “Organisational philosophy or style characterised by adaptive, creative, integrative behavior which (in contrast to a bureaucratic style) is flexible and non-permanent and which, therefore, can respond faster to a changing environment. See also adhocism.” Source:

Joseph Grima, curator of Adhocracy & Domus editor-in-chief during a guided tour

The exhibition “Adhocracy” at the first Design Biennale in Istanbul underlines a new collective mindset of designers and artists that uses rhizomatic networks to improvise and produce. The idea of this collaborative network becomes reality in this show. It is a reference of a revolution that just started or that finally got various names. Earlier this year we saw the first approach in The Future in the Making, also curated by Joseph Grima. The Machine curated by Jan Boelen, artistic director of Z33, states the same course, as I know from being the project manager of it.

I was pleased to see a familiar motivation to what we have done at The Machine on page 89 of the ‘Adhocracy’ exhibition catalogue. It shows a list of questions that were asked within the selection process of the projects: We are looking for projects that “adapt existing designs to new uses”, “that destabilise the traditional, balanced, trangular system between designer, producer, consumer”, “that empower others to design self-organise and collaborate”. Similar to what we asked for The Machine. It seems that there is more of it to come.

After I left Istanbul, a city that is full of magic, I wonder if the locals are able to recognise the value of the show. A city that screams imperfection that much, is a perfect backdrop for all the foreigners who came to witness what ad hoc design is. But will the people in Istanbul understand that amateurs and activists will make a difference? Probably not, they live in their own magic… Here comes my selection of revolutionists from the point of a visitor:

Halic Center by Yona Friedman, 2012

An enormous structural work made of styrofoam: Istanbul upside down on the ceiling of the Greek School, the location of “Adhocracy”.

‘Introducing transparency to everyday objects can make them more understandable. As objects become understandable, we can redefine how they are used and produced’, says the catalogue.

Transparent Tools by Jesse Howard, 2012

The project is a set of household appliances that users can produce and repair by themselves by a combination of DIY products and rapid-prototyped elements.
The system is based on the grid-based OpenStructures system. The designs, for example the toaster and the vacuum cleaner above, come with a simple manual that enables “the user to source, recycle, or 3D-print the parts locally.”

Global Village Construction Set by Open Source Ecology, 2011 – ongoing
Above: LifeTrac, a low-cost, multipurpose open source tractor

A similar approach like the OpenStructures system and the transparent tools from Jesse Howard is a project on Open Source Ecology. The platform presents a set of essentials to make construct your very own industrial machine. Much cheaper than the ones on the current market. You might impress your neighbours with a turf tractor.

From the Adhocracy catalogue

Toaster Project by Thomas Thwaites, 2009

First he takes a toaster apart that cost him 3,99 Pounds and then he makes one of 5 materials – iron, copper, nickel, mica and plastic that costs 1187,54 pounds, realising that it melts down after 5 minutes – this projcts presents how our lives are linked with massive networks of interrelated production lines.

Watch a TED movie about the Toaster Project here.

OS Coffegrinder 1 for OpenStructures

Thomas Lommee’s OpenStructures is a system that gives designers a framework to collaborate with each other: ready made components together with improvised and found elements in order to assembly a product. The structure is given, the rest is an open puzzle to play with.

The Coffegrinder is done by Unfold, the OS parts are designed by Fabio Lorefice

Dries Verbruggen from Unfold – porcelain 3D printing

Stratigraphic Manufactory by Unfold, 2012 – ongoing

A “distributed global network connecting small-scale producers with programmers and 3D model fers.” Dries Verbruggen and his partner Claire Warnier say that choosing the expression manufactory in their project title was essential. The manufacturing site that they set up for the time of he Design Biennale will be run by local craftsman and 3D nerds, aiming to bring together technical innovation and tradition in craft.

Keystones by Minale-Maeda, 2012

It is an element or connection that is able to assembly any kind of design – from chair to table, without skills of joinery.
The final product can be made from materials at hand.

prodUSER by Tristan Kopp, 2012

A set of connections – these connection parts are located at the junctions of the four tubes that make a bicycle frame.
It is a system that has potential to develop into an open source community. The objcet can be to changed by the user.

Improvisation Machine by Annika Frye, 2012

The Improvisation Machine is a flexible device that produces vessels without a fixed mould with help of rotation molding. During dinner Annika Frye told me that she found the right material by accident. She nagged her workshop teacher for so long, that he announced the existence os polymer plaster which was perfect for her project.

Secondary Use Project by John Haaraken, 1963

Initially this Heineken bottle was menat to serve as a brick for construction purposes in third world countries like Curacao. The owner of the brewery observed how locals use discarded materials and objects as construction material. In the 50ies that there was “no financially viable approach to collect and refill exported bottles.” The marketing department was afraid that WOBO (World Bottle) might damage the Heineken image. “It wasn’t good to associate wit with waste and poor people. The project unfortunatly didn’t succed and the 60.000 bottles are now called a ‘collectors item’ – how ironic. They thought that the only way to prmote this would be to convince Mariylin Monroe to live in one of them – even more ironic.

Imagine by Pedro Reyes, 2012

Reyes transforms confiscated weapons into instruments. This is his way to address the crime rates in his native country. Weapons become objects of social engagement through a second life.

Thomas Lommee and Jan Boelen in a self-reflective conversation on the roof of the Greek school

Temporary office at Turkish Airlines: Mac Book Air, Adhocracy catalogue & Orphan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence (we were seated at the emergency exit)

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