The design idea of "counter-constraint" is to create things in such a way as to get around some constraint — for example, open source hardware works without patents or copyrights.
A brilliant example of counter-constraint is Italian designer Enzo Mari's "democratic furniture" manual, autoprogettazione? [PDF], which explains how to make beautiful furniture out of unfinished lumber and nails, made almost entirely with squared-off cuts (no fancy mitering or curves that you can't easily make with a handsaw).
The folks at Crapfutures have been building many of Mari's designs (shown above, a ping-pong table), and using the projects to talk about counter-constraint in design practice.
The book is full of beautiful stuff – we've already made two ping-pong tables and a couple of chairs from his instructions. Taking Mari's lead, it is possible for anyone – without sophisticated tools or machinery – to sidestep the usual trip to Ikea.
Well, almost anyone – you still need basic building skills. The Enzo Mari example also relates to another constraint we've discussed, that of education. We've used his book to teach students the kinds of skills that are becoming rarer these days thanks to over-digitalisation, the consequential focus on 3D printing and laser-cutting, and the rapid shift toward sealed-box design.
autoprogettazione? [Enzo Mari]
(via Bruce Sterling)