Readymade, A Book of Sustainable DIY Projects

Readymade, the book by the founders of the magazine with the same name, is a perfect marriage between sustainability and stellar book design. It features dozens of useful projects (organized by material: paper, plastic, wood, metal, glass, and fabric) most of which can be created with discarded materials from around the house. Although the publication has been out for a few years, I constantly return to appreciating the clarity of its design vision. If you love DIY and/or an amazing book with tons of projects and humorous tidbits and facts, this is the must-have for your library.

Sample Project: Shopping Bag Rug
What are you going to do with all of those shopping bags you have lying around? Why, weave a rug of course! And then, you will stop using plastic bags altogether and buy a few canvas ones.

Sample Project: Take-Out Chandelier
Why do take-out places insist on giving us plastic spoons, forks, and knives when we all have silverware? Gather up your old plastic utensils and make a chandelier out of it. And then, the next time you get takeout, insist on not receiving plastic utensils.

Before launching into the projects themselves, each chapter begins with a history of that particular material, followed by clear info-graphics explaining its chemical breakdown. This may be the first time that seemingly tedious and boring information about raw materials is made accessible and interesting. For those who want to get into the projects right away, these pages may not be that important. If you’re like me, though, you love learning for learning’s sake.

Every project contains a header, showing the time, cost, and difficulty in a quick iconographic way.

The book calls Duchamp its patron-saint, since he invented the term “Readymade”. Remember the urinal? Every so often there’s a sidebar called Duchamp’s corner that lists alternative uses for ordinary materials; in this case it’s newspaper. Readymade pushes the concept of alternative use to the max by having the book itself function as a ruler and straight-edge. (notice the spine in the main image) Even the endpapers feature 29 alternative uses for the book, humorously mocking itself, yet simultaneously reinforcing this important concept.