Do-it-yourself design projects that are less crafty, more cool
Design for download
Since Droog launched its game-changing Design for Download website, it will likely do for design in the 21st century what Ikea did in the 20th—democratize it—in this case by bringing design directly to anyone with an Internet connection, with no international shipping or middlemen required. Just choose and configure your design, download the schematics, and either take them to a nearby fabricator or give it a try yourself. Among the first online offerings is an open-source decorative electrical sockets, tables and chairs made with wood and 3-D printable brackets, and shelves whose composition can be customized using Droog's new software.
Design for Download; droog.com
To create its customizable Pinha lamp, the London studio Raw-Edges took advantage of cork's unique properties. As an insulator with low heat conductivity, it's safe to wrap around virtually any bare lightbulb without the risk of burning the whole house down. And the fact that it makes a great pincushion gave the duo the idea for its shape: Four tiers provide the perfect platforms for tacking on a shade of your choosing, from graph paper to vintage maps.
Pinha lamp by Raw-Edges for Materia, price available upon request; raw-edges.com
Planter and garden table
The pair behind Scout Regalia have a distinctly Los Angeles mentality. In addition to the beachfront condos, back-yard decks, and open-air home extensions they've built for private clients, their downloadable wood-planter and gardening-table schematics are all about making it easier to commune with nature, no matter what part of the country you call home.
Plans for the SR Cutsheet planting table by Scout Regalia, free; scoutregalia.com
When American designers make things by hand, they turn to parts catalogs like Grand Brass and McMaster-Carr for everything from shims to tube benders to lathe bits. Known for her sculptural blown-glass fixtures, New York phenom Lindsey Adelman was so inspired by these types of resources that she's sharing plans for her similarly chic brass chandelier. All of its components are only a mouse click away.
You Make It brass-chandelier plans by Lindsey Adelman, free; lindseyadelman.com
The London brand Very Good & Proper's modular aluminum table legs were originally created for the city's popular Canteen eateries, allowing the restaurant owners to periodically swap out any damaged parts. For everyone else, the appeal is more personal than economical; create your own look by screwing them into any tabletop, whether it's a pristine slab of timber or an old weathered door.
Canteen table-leg set by Very Good & Proper, $325; verygoodandproper.com
Coil lamp DIY kit
Technically speaking, there isn't much to the Chicago designer Craighton Berman's Coil Lamp. The package contains only a bulb socket and a few pieces of serrated plastic that form the skeleton of a light fixture. The magic happens after a short run to the hardware store to procure 100 feet of utility cord and a CFL bulb. Wrap the cord around the frame and plug in the bulb, and suddenly it's a full-fledged design object.
Coil Lamp DIY Kit by Craighton Berman, $79; craightonberman.com/
While it requires one less step than most DIY projects—a pile of pre-cut wood is included—Londoner Max Lamb's flat-packed, self-assembled platform chair for Japanese manufacturer E&Y is still a good excuse to play with tools.
Third Chair by Max Lamb for E&Y, $230; eandy.com
Young Swede Pål Rodenius was a carpenter before he enrolled in design school, and his latest project merges those two worlds. It consists of a large plywood sheet printed with a color-coded network of lines that tell you where to aim your saw; the same board can produce a bookshelf, chair, bed, coat rack, bench, table, or side table, depending on which outline you choose to follow. Then the pieces slot together without screws or glue.
2440x1220 Saw Assemble by Pål Rodenius, $150; rodenius.se
Most of the furniture in London designer Nina Tolstrup's portfolio is made from simple materials like glass, steel tubing, and raw or reclaimed wood; it's the forms she sculpts them into that are so unique. Her Pallet chair and lamp, for example, are ingenious reinventions of the ubiquitous shipping pallets that so often end up tossed out on the curb. A downloadable PDF from Tolstrup's site teaches you how to make your own for about $16. To try before you buy, download free plans for a plywood mobile outdoor kitchen, whose bucket sink draws water from the garden hose.
Pallet lamp by Studiomama, $16; studiomama.com