BY MARK FRAUENFELDER
Make Like Picasso
Recently I came across a quotation about
making things, attributed to Pablo Picasso.
I found it in a wonderful, hand-lettered
how-to book from 1973 called Nomadic Furniture 1:
How to Build and Where to Buy Lightweight
Furniture That Folds, Inflates, Knocks Down, Stacks,
or Is Disposable and Can be Recycled, by James
Hennessey and Victor Papanek.
Picasso was right, and the authors of Nomadic
Here’s what Picasso said: “When you make a
thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated
making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that
make it after you, they don’t have to worry about
making it. And they can make it pretty, and so
everybody can like it when the others make it
Furniture were wise to quote him, because a lot of
the furniture pieces in the book are functionally
clever, but they’re eyesores. That’s not surprising
for first generation, proof-of-concept prototypes.
The authors included the quote as a challenge to
the reader: we worked hard to design this easy-to-build furniture, now it’s up to you to improve
on what we’ve create and make it look pretty.
Some of the projects in MAKE aren’t beautiful
to look at. They do what they’re supposed to do,
but they lack aesthetic appeal. I know that many
makers are more interested in function than in
form, because the challenge of getting something
to work the way you imagined it can be an all-consuming activity. That’s great, but when you
create something that’s amazing, it makes sense
to honor it by endowing it with physical appeal, too.
The object shown here is an example of an
attractive package for a neat homebrew gadget
called the Multari ( retroactive.be/multari). It’s a
handheld Atari 2600 clone built and designed by a 3. “Action is the foundational key to all success.”
teenager named Marshall H. from Kansas. Marshall
packaged the circuitry for the Multari in a vacuum- Have you come up with a way to make your projects
formed styrene plastic case, and it looks terrific. look pretty? We’d love to see them. Please show us
(To create your own vacuum-formed 3D parts, check at makezine.com/14/welcome.
out MAKE, Volume 11, page 106, for instructions on
setting up a Kitchen Floor Vacuum Former.)
Throughout his life, Picasso never stopped challenging himself to learn new ways of doing things. Mark Frauenfelder is editor-in-chief of MAKE.
Photograph by Marshall Hecht
When you create something
that’s amazing, it makes sense
to honor it by endowing it with
physical appeal, too.
Why not challenge yourself by learning how to make
your creations look better?
Here are three more pieces of good advice often
attributed to Picasso (found on paintalicious.org)
about becoming a better maker:
1. “He can who thinks he can, and he can’t who thinks
he can’t. This is an inexorable, indisputable law.”
2. “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in
order that I may learn how to do it.”
12 Make: Volume 14