about

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rambling around, picking up scraps and asking: What could this be?
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Everyday resourcefulness:

re-making of frugal materials by non-specialists

an unfinishing resource for making and doing

Over the years I have been walking, discovering, appreciating real-world instances of everyday resourcefulness: the re-making of frugal materials by non-specialists. Often made by hand, by people who care, I have felt delight and moved through encountering these traces of human activities. Instead of being ‘designed’ by a specialist and manufactured through a system of extractive industries and alienated labour, they are specific human beings’ answers to these questions:

How do I live right now, right here? What can I do with the stuff around me?

I am slowly gathering, that one thing could be many1, that “things are not ‘fit for their purpose’2“; that “we can use everything for anything in a more or less successful way3“; that improvisation could be a technology4; that practicing an appreciative way of seeing could be a source of power5; that “building is a special way of suggesting6”; that there are many co-existing micro-cosmoses7, and “unbounded richness of variations still exist8”; that “the earth is a form of writing, a geography of which we had forgotten that we ourselves are the co-authors9”; that most of the time, we are “starting something we cannot finish10“.

With this ever-growing resource of making, I hope they could offer loose kindling for

gently speculating, suggesting, dreaming, playfully provoking other possibilities for improvising and modifying your own lives.

I am curious what you see in them, and what we could make, together.

I would love to hear from you: xin@makeshifting.net

about me:
xin cheng was born in China, grew up in Aotearoa/New Zealand. At university she studied biology and psychology, before going to art school, where the possibilities of making, seeing, walking opened out to her. Since 2007 she has done field research in Whenua Hou, Cambodia, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Mexico. She encountered Chris Berthelsen’s a-small-lab through a search of ‘Tokyo tyre park’ in 2014, and they have been collaborating since, rambling, making and dreaming with companions in many places. Currently she is working towards an MA at HFBK Hamburg, in Marjetica Potrc’s class Design for the Living World



1 A very important thing is not to make up your mind that you are any one thing. -Gertrude Stein
2 Things simply are not ‘fit for their purpose’. At one time a flake of flint was t for the purpose of surgery, and stainless steel is not for for the purpose yet.
Everything we design and make is an improvisation, a lash-up, something inept and provisional. We live like castaways. -Georges Canguilhem, ‘Machine
and Organism’, in Incorporations, 1992.
3 Brandes, Stich & Wender, Design by Use, 2009, p55
4 instead of a last resort, Christopher Dell
5 Kaijima, Kuroda &Tsukamoto, Made in Tokyo, 2001
6 BBC for Business
7 John Wood
8 Editorial, White Fungus, Issue 13, 2013
9 Georges Perec, ‘co-’ added by xin
10 James Carse, Finite and In nite Games, 1986

While I brush up on my wordpress skills and build this website, you can view the more of the photo collection here.

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