Article magazine # 95


Editor’s: A small economy and do it yourself

Post de: Constantin Goagea

Do it yourself (or DIY, the equivalent of “Fa-o tu insuti”, or FTI in short) stands for a popular culture, a kind of vernacular attitude on top of an industrial system. Although it does not get its own resources or technologies (similarly to the vernacular sytem), FTI-DIY is that way of making things following simple instructions (such as cartoons), on cheap tools and technologies (low-tech) – screwdrivers, hammer, drills etc. and a finite number of people to move and use the tools, components (e.g. the members of a family).

Starting with building or fixing things or furniture at home, gardening or miniproductions without a commercial purpose on mind, this type of self-housekeeping started as a whole anti-consumerist revolution in the 60s.

Emerging in the United States under the power flower trend, FTI-DIY meant a whole movement politically committed, with festivals and protests, and other types of resistance to the technological invasion. What one could not deny in this movement is the fact that it encourages a certain technical awareness, the initiative and organization of people in a network, where they can support each other and make a series of information and practical examples available to the group. The resistance to marketing, and the questioning of the authority of experts come to balance some world consumerist trends. In a way, FTI-DIY work at a low cost keeps up and stimulates the microeconomics socially, and on the other hand it acts like a type of creation, or cultural authorship. One should not ignore the personal achievement as well, the feeling of something being accomplished when you have done something by your own hand, with personal effort. The advantages of this thinking applied to architectural buildings could stand for comfort at a low cost, recycling and saving up resources. Actually, the last edition of the Ars electronica festival was entitled Repair_repairings, a title that drew the attention of the viability of those systems in which one survives carefully under hard times. Although it has social and personal highly committed components, what needs to be clearly separated from the eco radical movements is this tempered cohabitation with the industry which, perhaps it is hardly to believe, yet is covers a rather regular consumption.

Based on data and statistics, FTI-DIY lives prosperously in Romania. People buy more from those shops, to mend up, build, fix, and rearrange things, so more and more similar shops are opened. At the other extreme, the design of new houses, residential projects, hotels and offices warms up after a rather fogged and unfriendly winter.

Though this type of architecture and interior design does not come up with major innovations technically speaking, or aesthetically, the stakes are somewhere else. Four years ago when people aimed for great things, we proposed the Small ideas for a large city project. We had then a very FTI attitude at that time, a life-buoy for the money of the city town in case of difficulty: low costs, few people and ideas to work without a major effort. Yet none of those actually happened, although the exhibition was successful and Mr Oprescu, the mayor, signed some of those projects. And when I say that they did not happen, it means those issues were never sorted out. Now I start to think if they are good again or at least to debate on them. Those or others which you have. We hardly move economically and a learning point in this FTI system which is functional around us would be quite useful. I see that we are going to have an electoral year though, and we are once again aiming for large scale projects, drawing lines, making up a new city. The demolitions are fine, we prepare the area for the grand project at Bucharest, for instance.

For what buyers, for which economy, for what investors? I simply ask the question, but I’d really like to forget about this terribly tempered or rather suffering era. Let’s hope for the better.