Nomadic Furniture (1974, Pantheon Books) 4 stars

Nomadic Furniture

2 stars

Quite mixed feelings about this book. I want very much to like it, but I think it's severely limited by its conception of "nomadism" as moving between apartments every few years.

I get the feeling that this book may have been a victim of its success — many of the designs feel like DIY IKEA furniture, which I'm sure was novel in 1973, more than a decade before IKEA reached the USA. Today, though, it just feels somewhat depressing.

A lot of the book also relies on building furniture from materials that are widely and cheaply available, the idea being that they can be discarded upon moving, and recreated at a destination. Again, this is compatible with a definition of "nomadism" that emphasizes staying put for enough time to scrounge up the cardboard, polyurethane, etc that's needed to put together this furniture. Which is fine, I guess (if a little depressing, when you think too much about it), but not really what I was hoping for.

There are a couple useful ideas for a modern reader in here, but really not much more than that, and even those ideas largely are no longer novel, having made their way from IKEA to Target and Walmart these days.

I do think there are still novel ideas to be had in the field of nomad-friendly furniture — particularly, tensegrity designs can be extremely lightweight, collapsible, and strong — but they won't be found in this book, unfortunately. I guess it's maybe a blessing, in a sense, that this book won't deprive me the joy of discovering them for myself.