DIY and disorder: NATØ’s approach to making and materiality

Claire Jamieson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Be not a dummy in an aspic of bought aspiration. Select instead and adapt and
resurrect and rearrange so that you may move the way you want. Even if penniless,
revel in the available alter-splendour. Exploitation of the landlord, the granny, the
friend, excavation of the garage, the tip, the skip and the market, the farmyard even,
these will readily furnish your space with the excreta of your own condition. And
now use the clever weld, the stupid contrast to make it all that much more peculiar.

Ð ‘Albionize Your Living Room’, NATØ, 2, (1984) pp.12–13.

NATØ – Narrative Architecture Today – the last radical architectural group of the twentieth century, who emerged from the Architectural Association at the start of the 1980s, promoted an approach to architecture and the city predicated on DIY and an adhocist approach to making and re-making. In their ‘stimulator artefacts’, designed for complex spatial installations, NATØ designed through improvisation and material salvage – combining foraged materials like plastics and metals with ready-made elements such as radios and video equipment. Echoing contemporaneous designers including the Creative Salvage group, Daniel Weil, and Ron Arad, this was a generation driven by the decaying fabric of de-industrialising London – the physicality of disorder and entropy suggesting subversive new forms.
Defining NATØ’s works as distinctly urban, the paper proposes the idea of a street vernacular that sought to mirror the language of the city – celebrating informality, primitivism and obsolescence. Exploring original archival material and articles from NATØ magazine, the paper will consider NATØ’s anti-design ethos and their dislike of ‘tastefully designed goods’ – theorising a strand of postmodernism based on self-determination, self-build and participation. Drawing on theorists including Dick Hebdige, Tim Edensor, Ben Campkin and Richard Sennett, the paper will consider how NATØ’s work opposed the structuring efficiency of global capitalism and celebrated the diversity of urban life.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 8 Sept 2017
EventMaking and Unmaking the Environment: Design History Society Annual Conference - University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 7 Sept 20179 Sept 2017


ConferenceMaking and Unmaking the Environment
Internet address


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