Improvised Life » furniture If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 09 Sep 2014 22:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Formula for a DIY Donald Judd-esque Sofa Mon, 08 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000

Farrah Sit/Rebecca Atwood

Artist Donald Judd's austere, organic, ultra-simple furniture has been inspiration for lots of knockoff's and diy's and straight-out ripoffs. His iconic sofa, below, inspired the $6,000 Maple sofa, above, a collaboration of Brooklyn-based industrial designer Farrah Sit and textile designer Rebecca Atwood. Sit and Atwood have made improvments on Judd's design, from a practical comfort point-of-view. The sofa is definitely DIY-able.]]> 2
Plywood Swirls via Jigsaw Make Surprising Tables and… Wed, 06 Aug 2014 17:00:16 +0000


We stumbled on this lovely side table at the ever-illuminating Aqqindex. “Paint and parchment side table” was the only info. We instantly envisioned plywood, one of our favorite materials for its possibility and accessibility. You could make a table like this with three rectangles and two flat sides cut with whimsical swirls. (more…)

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Annals of Bad Design: Swing Day Bed + Wilcox’s GREAT Swing Chair Tue, 05 Aug 2014 20:00:41 +0000

Emma's Design Blog

Years ago, we clipped this image from a design blog thinking: How lovely that looks, in its minimalist setting. Then we imagined lying on a swinging bed hung in a nook so near to a wall and could feel how jarring it would be if/when the suspended bed actually hit the wall.  Much better it be a hammock placed so its arc would miss the wall but you could use the wall to push off…

Then we stumbled on a“Another Use for Old Chairs: Turn Them Into Swings” in Unconsumption, featuring old chairs that people had  literally suspended, mostly from trees. And that reminded us of designer/inventor Dominic Wilcox’s Arm Chair Swing, (more…)

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For Sale: Rare French Dining Table (Long, Narrow, Curiously Modern) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:16:25 +0000

Sally Schneider

We’ve had this fab, rare, 19C French dining table in storage, hoping that we’d have a place for it in the Laboratory. Unfortunately, it’s eight-foot length just won’t work in the configuration of our space. We’ve decided to sell it, for a steal. The buyer would arrange for an pay for shipping from Seattle (or pick it up, if in the area). We need to let it go.

We enjoyed many a wonderful dinner party in its original space in Ireland. Its 24-inch width makes for a rarity: (more…)

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Stylish Repurposed Tables from RioEtc Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:00:59 +0000

When we start poking around the google translate version of, a site meant to show the stylish side of Rio, we found, over several separate posts some compelling mashups of tables. The first, the coffee table, above, which appears to be made of mismatched crates, some with wheels, some not, and a cubist hunk of…is it foam rubber…with a glass top; curiously works.

Then we spotted this table made out of painted boards that had been stripped and affixed to the wall by what appears to be black pipe, (more…)

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big shipping pallet and concrete block outdoor table Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:00:10 +0000

Sally Schneider

Last weekend, we walked down to the Urban Garden Center to check out the pig roast they hold every Saturday in the summer. You many remember that the garden center is directly across from the two buildings that collapsed in Harlem last winter after a gas leak explosion. It was practically decimated and we wondered if they’d come back. We’ll they made it through and we bought ornamental grasses for our planters from them a couple of months ago. Ever industrious, they rebuilt their rough-and-tumble party pavilion and launched a weekly Harlem Seoul Pig Roast, serving a mashup of Korean/Southern Barbeque. The pavilion is made of all sorts of found and rustic materials, including mismatched chairs and junk store finds.

We especially loved the huge table made of shipping pallets and concrete block, two of our favorite building materials. It could easily seat twelve AND weather the elements.  (more…)

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Movable Wheelbarrow Bench Wed, 09 Jul 2014 20:00:14 +0000

Weltevree/Rogier Martens

Rogier Design the Wheelbench  with a built in wheelbarrow wheel.

“Moving a bench with two people has always been a chore… This is a bench you can easily maneuver into position. The eye-catching wheel is an invitation to find the best spot. An invitation to be active, to create your world the way you want it, time and time again.”


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Adirondack + Rietveld Chairs, for Outside or In, to DIY or Buy Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:00:02 +0000

We are struck by the many similarities between the iconic American Adirondack chair designed in 1903 and the Crate Chair Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld designed in the 1930's. We've investigated ones to buy, and plans that would allow you to make an interesting fusion of the two —all great, indoor and out.]]> 2
Cat’s Cradle-ish String Chair Repair (and Others…) Tue, 01 Jul 2014 17:00:01 +0000

Stumbled on at Mondo-blogo: a great little adhoc chair repair.  In addition to the cat’s-cradle-ish string design, we imagine numerous possibilities for fixing the seat of this bentwood chair carcass, using many of the materials we’ve come across over the years… (more…)

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Karl Lagerfeld’s Bathroom Parlour Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:00:58 +0000


We recently stumbled in this image of French fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s 1970’s Paris bathroom which interests us for its vision of bathroom as parlour or even work space.  It includes a sitting area with Panton chairs around a mirror table by the tub. The room is filled with mirrors and posters.

We love seeing a bathroom that EXPANDS the view of what a bathroom should be, according to his view and lifestyle….whatever that is. Why does a bathroom have it be just for bathing and… Did Lagerfeld entertain friends as he is bathing…work a bit…read the paper…?. Another view of (more...)]]> 0 Emergency Services – We’ll Be Back Soon (+ an Improv Phone Table) Mon, 23 Jun 2014 08:56:58 +0000

Sally Schneider

A couple of days ago, a dear friend called early in the morning having difficulty breathing and asking us to meet him at the imaging center the doctor advised. The results of the CT-scan had us accompanying our friend to the Emergency Room where we spent nine hours navigating his serious distress with a cellphone that could not send or receive due to all the machinary around, and mixed messsages from the attending staff who, we found out later, had ignored the doctor’s very specific instructions.

Luckily, it all worked out in the end: our friend is stable but still need lots of care and watching over…which we are going to continue to give him…everyday until he is released.

So we’re going to take a short time off — or post sporadically — while we continue to improvise in the hospital on behalf of our friend. Here’s a phone table we made by (more…)

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Nomad Designer Transforms Found Furniture Each Time He Moves Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:55:31 +0000

François Duquesnoy

Netherlands-based Designer Francois Duquesnoy is a nomad at heart. Instead of moving heavy furniture everytime he changes living space, he prefers to use whatever discarded items he finds in his new surroundings and transmute them. Sometimes, he splices objects together. More often, he simply paints what he finds, every detail in the same color. As with the spaces we’ve featured where the entire room is painted one color — moldings, ceilings, pipes, whatever — this simple technique truly does transfom even homely pieces of furniture into something…else… (more…)

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Nathan Frey’s Briliant Modular Workspace Thu, 12 Jun 2014 19:45:13 +0000

Nathan Frey

We recently came across the Frey Desk at Kickstarter, a flexible workspace that quickly transitions from sitting desk to drafting table to standing desk to easel. A vertical mast supports the desk and shelf. The shelf is handy for holding tools, books and speakers. The desk top is a spacious 30″ x 40″, perfect for a computer and large projects.

Frey’s modular workspace is decidedly brilliant and, to us, pretty homely. Nevermind. It’s design could be a jumping off point for forging our own. We LOVE Frey’s design thinking about how a creative person works, and learning about his own process in designing the workspace.   (more…)

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DIY? A Chair Frame Wrapped in Suspenders Tue, 10 Jun 2014 20:00:23 +0000

Outdoorz Gallery

Over the years, we’ve come across chair frames and carcasses — the structure without soft back or seat in place — and wondered what we can do with them. Sometimes we find beautiful sculptural ones discarded on the street, sometimes new versions, like chair forms meant to be upholstered that we discovered here (see below), or Ikea finds WITHOUT the pillows.

Recently we came across a compelling idea for transforming chair frames developed by Italian designer Luca Martorano in collaboration with craftsman Georg Muehlmann. In their ‘Bretelle’ chair (Italian for suspenders), they wrapped the back and seat of the wooden frame with a layered, intersecting network of suspenders to form the pan and backrest. The elastic framework provides comfortable, lightweight seating. (more…)

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