Design Inspirations: Enzo Mari

When people ask me who is the best designer, I think of a 70 year old farmer who plants seeds of chestnut trees in his field. He works hard but he knows that he will not be there 15 years later, when the trees give out fruits, and shade and wood. Yet he does it anyway.” Enzo Mari to DaMn Magazine 2010

If someone tried to build something, they would learn something” Enzo Mari

The remarkable ideas of Italian designer Enzo Mari continue to inspire us on a regular basis which is one reason why he’s the designer opening our occasional Design Inspirations series of posts. In this post we see Mari exploring one of his key ideas - the concept of cheap sustainable do-it-yourself design. Despite first publishing his ideas on the subject in his pivotal “Proposal for Self Design” book in 1974 this dimension of his work has often been misunderstood. Mari intended his “Proposal for Self Design” as an educational tool. It was not intended to be merely a plan for people to build his chair. I believe Mari was saying “you too can do this” to the general man (or woman) in the street. His chair design was laid out and presented as a ‘case history’ example for us to learn from and go forth and make our own interpretation. Fortunately his ideas seem to be coming back into focus - the proposal was revisited in 2010 (pictures above / videos below) thanks to Finnish company Artek who have also made the chair kit itself available for sale. Now we hope his new 2011 autobiographical book of essays “25 Ways to Hammer a Nail” will be translated into English soon. This is one designer we can all learn something from.

Video: Enzo Mari talks about Autoprogettazione

Video: Enzo Mari demonstrates how to assemble the chair

Video: Enzo Mari AA School of Architecture lecture
[1506.06370] Sun-tracking optical element realized using thermally activated transparency-switching material

[ Authors ]
Harry Apostoleris, Marco Stefancich, Samuele Lilliu, Matteo Chiesa
[ Abstract ]
We present a proof of concept demonstration of a novel optical element: a light-responsive aperture that can track a moving light beam. The element is created using a thermally-activated transparency-switching material composed of paraffin wax and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Illumination of the material with a focused beam causes the formation of a localized transparency at the focal spot location, due to local heating caused by absorption of a portion of the incident light. An application is proposed in a new design for a self-tracking solar collector.

1.1 - Use critical and contextual perspectives to initiate a personal self-directed art and design project proposal

Pitch - Final Idea

This video clip is a short part of my pitch. This clip shows me explaining and pitching my two ideas to my tutors. I was unsure which path would be best to go down when creating my documentary but I knew it was definitely going to be about Crown Green Bowling. Also in my pitch I explained my inspirations for choosing to make a documentary on Crown Green Bowling, and showed evidence of some research I had done on the types of documentaries. Once I had pitch my tutors and I discussed my ideas and I received verbal feedback. I took notes of the feedback I received. These are some of the notes; Well presented pitch and powerpoint, an exciting and interesting idea, a feasible idea, well researched, fantastic that I am passionate and play Crown Green Bowling. I decided that I wanted to base the film more about the club than try to promote Crown Green Bowling.

Once I had received my feedback I began to further research to help me developed my idea but I also looked into potential interviewees. This research helped me to decided that I want to create a production based on Witton Bowling Club and the people involved with the club. As I am part of the team I know that getting interviewees will not be a problem. We play every Monday and Tuesday nights and every other Thursday night, so I can always gets shots of the players bowling during the week and also get the interviews and information I require. I would like my production to be a slow, smooth paced film with a voiceover giving information and guiding the audience through the documentary.

Brief 1 : 1.2 - Use analysis and evaluation to clarify and develop a personal self-directed art and design project proposal.

1.2: Use critical and contextual perspectives to initiate a personal self-directed art and design project proposal

After my proposal was approved by my tutor Graham, I designed a powerpoint presentation suited to my idea: identity - particularly in sexuality. This pitch was a chance for me to put all my thoughts and ideas out there for my tutors to consider and give me feedback on. 

I had the pitch filmed so that I have evidence. From this I decided to make some supportive notes from my brief, before I start my research (19-3-2015):

Why will my idea fit my brief? It will be between 2-4 minutes, it will be factual because the people I feature in my video will be sharing their experiences and opinions rather than telling a fictional story or making anything up. It educates people because it will feature facts that not everybody would have known before watching my video.

What research will I conduct? I will collect interviews of people that will either be in my film or have a connection to somebody who is homosexual. I will also hand out a questionnaire asking people if they support gay rights and other similar questions. Furthermore, using the internet I will gather as many facts and statistics and general information about homophobia and gay people as I can. Watching existing documentaries, promotion videos and music videos will help me get a clearer image of how I want to present my video.

Resources I will need? The basic essentials to any video are a camera, tripod and microphone, so those are the most important resources I will need to use. I will need internet access which I have and I will need to browse for websites and documentaries for some inspiration and supportive information. Maybe I will rent some documentaries? Or I could use Netflix and watch all the identity related videos on there? On top of them I will need access to an Apple Mac and Premiere Pro for the editing process. The problem I might face with that is I will need to make sure my mac is free when I need it to be because each mac is shared between my class (Level 3, year 2), Level 3 year 1 and level 2 year 1. 

How will I appeal to my target audience? I will appeal to my target audience by making to context obvious: I’ll conduct as much research as I can related to identity to develop into a storyboard/overall picture for the final video. I want my video to be subtle, but obvious at the same time. I would like the theme of my video to be represented by the interviewees and the shots rather than a title or a voice over explaining what’s going on- either way I need to take into consideration that people want to know what they’re about to watch, so I could use Mise En Scene to present my point to an audience? 

1.2 Use analysis and evaluation to clarify and develop a personal self-directed art and design project proposal

Slide 1 - the intro to the idea with relevant/random images/ 

Slide 2 - a brief explanation of my idea with images/the YouTube channel names of my contributors who the film will also be focusing on. 

Slide 3 - a further explanation into what the film will explore. 

Slide 4 - a summary of what i plan to include in the video.

Slide 5 - evidence of contact with my contributors who are on board for the idea. 

Slide 6 - an inspiration for a style of interview i want to use in my film from a “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” documentary.


My pitch was with Graham, so that I could start on my idea and start developing it. I filmed the pitch for evidence and so that it can be watched rather than explained (Although I have included in some parts). To help plan and prepare for the pitch I wrote down how I was going to go ahead in pitching to Graham, this included: the idea, the research and what I’ll be needing to make my project.

My Idea

After Graham took on board my idea I needed to show a visual representation of what I was going to bring to the documentary and a story too.

I will approach this project with a professional manner, because this is my FMP but it’s also a very personal project which is something which will encourgage and motivate me to achieve what I want. I will be very open and creative as I can so that my project will look unique and stand out, hopefully living up to my last project or maybe even better.

Resources I will need: I mentioned the fact that I will be needing equipment to help me overcome challenges that I will face in both production and post production, I’ll need a Panasonic camera, tripod and boom mic, sd card. This is the equipment I’ll need while in production before moving onto post production. In this stage, I’ll be needing an apple mac with premiere pro so that I can edit the footage and combine the clips together, I will also be needing after effects to achieve certain effects that I’ll be using in my film, I feel confident enough to use these programs because I’ve been taught over the past 2 years on how they both work. It’s also a great chance to do some secondary research on the internet which I can then add to my tumblr blog later.


I will be doing 2 different research methods. The first which is Primary will include 2 questionnaires. The first questionnaire will be about my subject/topic which is “Happiness” This will be given to a variety of people of different age groups, the purpose will be to find out more about what makes people happy and if not, why? For my second questionnaire I again, will ask a variety of people of different age groups what they like to see in documentaries so that I can get a good idea of trying to counterbalance this in my film.

My audience is a niche/mass audience, It is aimed at a mature audience, specifically teenagers + onwards. The reason for this is because my film deals about happiness and because of the content I will be putting in, could be quite confusing to a young child, I will be adding a variety of different techniques which would not appeal to that audience but instead would be much more engaging to an older more mature audience.

My biggest inspiration was from the film “As I was moving ahead occasionally I saw brief glimpses of beauty” (2000) which is a filmmaker voicing over home video and the memories he had and of happiness he enjoyed about it. I wanted to use a similar voice over of this in mine so included this example and talked about how I want it to come from their perspective, kind of like POV of what they think of happiness.

 I also included examples of abstract art that I wished to include too, these being San Francisco (1968), which used a variety of coloured lighting to create streaming effects, and neon glows which I really want to experiment with and possibly use in mine? I included another called An Optical Poem (1938) who used fake cut outs to create the effect that the cut outs were actually moving in a space like location.

To ask different people because different people have varied views on happiness, older simpler things make you happier Younger – striving for ambition.

He said keep the film upbeat so make the audience feel happy and that if I had access to VHS to then ask Brian to transfer it to the computer. Great idea and carry on what I’ve been doing. He said that everything I do is very visual and complex. Worked hard on presentation and thought about what I wanted to include. Despite this however he thought that I could be carried away and do more Style over substance – chance of it becoming a experimental film – this would not meet the parameters of the brief

First step: get the interviews done and get a lot of interviews, maybe get them into the studio and create some lighting techniques which he said I’m more than capable of doing but I need to get the interviews first and then I can start focusing on my abstract art. He suggested that I could have a planner and keep asking people to come in at certain days. But is still excited to see it and says I’ve got great skills in creating styles

He even suggested that I research “Happiness” as a whole and gave examples of these in popular media, such as: The governments campaign on happiness, It’s a wonderful life (1940), So i will research into films that have an uplifting ending and a powerful message on happiness.

1.2 - Use analysis and evaluation to clarify and develop a personal self-directed art and design project proposal.

This is the proposal I have created for my project. Section 1 is a review on everything I have learnt during my time on the course, how my knowledge has advance during the 12 units, outline what I plan to do in the future and what pathway I have chosen.

Section 2 is the project concepts and what the aims are for my project, what research I will do, what I anticipate creating, how my work will be presented and the resources I require for my project.

Section 3 I explain how I will reflect and evaluate my work throughout my production, how the evaluations will help me throughout my project and how I will use the evaluations during my project.

Brief 1 : 1.1 - Use Critical and Contextual Perspectives to Initiate a Personal Self-directed Art and Design Project Proposal

Nerds -

The idea for a documentary about this subculture stemmed from watching a talking head short about self esteem nearly a year ago . The idea started off as a joke about how it would be funny if the people in the film were replaced with nerds talking about the way the world views them. This idea was aimed to be a funny mockumentary but over time as I thought about the views of nerd from society I came to the realization that the views have changed over the years. I am part of this subculture myself and I can honestly say that at this moment in time, I don’t know what nerds are in societies eyes. “Nerds” and “Geeks” are more popular than ever before but they are also still seen as not normal. I feel that as I am a part of this subculture I’m not going into this film blind and I would be fully in control.

Domestic Abuse -

The idea of a point of view film about abuse came from the idea that the films we’re shown in school and college that were aimed at helping young people to understand bullying or abuse were terrible at engaging with the audience. After being shown a cyber bullying campaign in college I realised it was a big problem because lots of people in the class laughed at it. It was cheesy and used slang that was out of date which caused jokes between members of the class. Domestic abuse is an extremely big problem in the UK and shouldn’t be laughed at even if its a fake video.The problem I had with this is that its very hard to make such an emotional piece and if i mess up in anyway it could cause a lot of emotion damage, such as, an audience member being in this situation but a quote I use to help maybe make them feel better back fires into hurting them.

1.1: Use critical and contextual perspectives to initiate a personal self-directed art and design project proposal

Brainstorm 1 (27-2-2015)^

It was too soon to decide the overall topic of my final major project, however, I felt like I should make a note of what I would prefer to base my film on and started to brainstorm ideas that could come in handy if I am to use either of these ideas.

Brainstorm 2 (27-2-2015)^

This is the original version of my project proposal that I emailed to my tutor (12-3-2015):

Why are proposals important? Proposals are important because they’re a way for our tutors to asses how clear an understanding we have on the project. Not only that, but it’s a good way for US to ensure we are confident about the project and what we are to do for the months to come. 

1.1 Use critical and contextual perspectives to initiate a personal self-directed art and design project proposal

This is my project proposal for my revitalised idea. It was easier for me to write this proposal since my new idea is revolving around my most frequently involved hobby, so I could explain in more detail what i want to do. 

1.2 - Use analysis and evaluation to clarify and develop a personal self-directed art and design project proposal.

This is a scan of my written time sheet. I will use this time sheet throughout my project to set myself deadlines and make my working process a lot smoother. This is my initial starting point of my time planner where i show that I will finish my proposal and pitch by a certain date. I have also stated what resources/materials I will need in order to complete this task. I didn’t state on my time planner what date I’d like to complete it by but I gave myself an extension to the 13th of March to complete it.

1.1 - Use critical and contextual perspectives to initiate a personal self-directed art and design project proposal

Powerpoint Pitch and Feedback

This is my powerpoint that I created for my pitch. I decided to use powerpoint to help guide me through my pitch and so my tutors had a visual aid to help them understand what I was pitching. The first slide in my pitch included the brief, I included this to show that I understand the task I have been set to my tutors. On my second slide I included the inspirations for my idea, I believe that this showed that I was passionate and would give all my effort to create this production. I explained that both my grandpa and grandad were my biggest inspirations along with my Dad. It’s because of my Grandpa and Dad that I took up bowling, and my Grandad enjoyed coming to watch me play every week. My third and second slides were the two ideas I had come up with. Both ideas were on the same subject but just different ways of portraying a message. One was informational and the other was promotional. I researched the different types of documentaries to help me decide what type I should create for my FMP. During pitch I also included some questions that I could potentially ask and the potential interviewees that I could get for my production. I also spoke about some of the shots I had thought about and explained why I thought these could work. After I pitched the two ideas to my tutors we had a discussion about which one would work best and be most interesting. We agreed that the first idea I pitched, which was my favourite one, was the best. But we also discussed the idea of combining the two ideas together. 

1.1 - Use critical and contextual perspectives to initiate a personal self-directed art and design project proposal.

Verbal Agreement

For our Final Major Project, our task is to create a moving image piece that is factual and has a duration of 2-4 minutes. I chose to create a documentary because when we made one for the last unit I found it to be the most enjoyable task to date. When generating ideas for my FMP I tried to think of a topic that is entertaining and interesting so it will attract a vast audience range and keep them all enticed. I also attempted to come up with an idea that was feasible so that it wouldn’t be extremely difficult to shoot. I wanted to include a wide range of content in my video so that it would always be changing, could hold a lot of information and doesn’t allow the audience to become disinterested. Lastly, I wanted to create a documentary on something that I am passionate about so that when it comes to creative it, it gives me more of a drive to get it to reach a more professional level.

After thinking for a while I found that I could create my documentary on the 1950’s and how it has impacted modern lives. Before creating my proposal and my PowerPoint pitch, I gave a verbal pitch to my tutor Graham. When he heard what I wanted to create he was a little dubious about the idea because he couldn’t really see the image I wanted and didn’t think i’d be able to get enough footage if i was just looking back on the 50′s. I felt the same at this point because I was unsure as to if I wanted to focus it more around life in the 50’s or specifically on film. Graham then allowed the idea if I showed development with it within my pitch and my proposal.

1.2 - Use analysis and evaluation to clarify and develop a personal self-directed art and design project proposal.

This is my proposal for my project. In section 1 I discussed: what I have learnt throughout college year in the first 12 units; what I know now and what it means compared to what I knew and could do prior to the course; my reasons for choosing a certain pathway and outline my long term aspirations. 

In section 2 I explained: the concept and aims for my project; the ideas that will support and nourish it’s development; the research I will undertake; what I anticipate producing; the levels and types of resources I will need and an indication of the form in which I will present my work. I also talk about how i will document the changes I make in my work. 

Lastly, in section 3 I explain: how i will reflect on and evaluate my work as a continuous activity and in in the conclusion of the project.