ReadyMade: How to Make Almost Anything book cover, 2005

Readymade Magazine

Location: Berkeley, California
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ReadyMade magazine’s tag line is “Instructions for Everyday Life.” On the surface, it is a publication about how to make things out of stuff that already exists, crafting clever constructions from the by-products of consumer waste. A closer reading, however, exposes the magazine for what it really is: a manifesto for life in the twenty-first century.

Founded in 2001 by Shoshana Berger and Grace Hawthorne, ReadyMade speaks to a new generation of consumers and post-consumers concerned with both the ethics and aesthetics of domesticity. Many readers of ReadyMade will never actually build a CD rack from a FedEx tube or a chandelier from VOS water bottles, but they are drawn to the magazine’s view of design as an inclusive, hands-on enterprise. Shopping is not enough; people want to actively engage their environments, finding personal pleasure and social virtue in putting together the pieces of their own physical lives.

Just as Martha Stewart Living, the masterwork of do-it-yourself lifestyle publishing, has always served to inspire as well as explain, ReadyMade delivers a message that runs more deeply than the projects that make up its core content. ReadyMade speaks of selfempowerment, self-education, and selfdetermination. A series of interviews called “How Did You Get that F*&%ing Awesome Job?” explores the career paths of creative people—from artist Andrea Zittel to filmmaker Mike Mills— and helps readers think about their own ambitions and how to realize them.

Berger and Hawthorne started the magazine with credit cards, playing a risky shell game with no-interest financing deals. They lived to tell the tale, and tell it with plucky charm in their new book, ReadyMade: How to Make Almost Anything. Like the magazine, the book mixes detailed project descriptions with humorous, pointed discussions of ecology and detailed advice about life skills, from starting a business to telling a story—two things Berger and Hawthorne certainly know how to do.