Build More, 
Buy Less!

A Berlin architect designs inexpensive DIY furniture.

Cem Guen - Van Bo Le Menzel

Alternative lifestyle. Van Bo Le-Mentzel likes to look for new ways of doing things. This was already his style during his career as 
rapper and radio host. Another constant in the work of the Berlin architect, who comes from Laos, is his awareness of social issues. Is it 
possible to live a decent life with little money? Is there any room for creativity in the face of social adversity? Van Bo Le-Mentzel answers with a resounding “yes”. He has designed what he calls a Hartz IV collection of furniture; it’s named after Germany’s system of unemployment benefits. For example, you can download instructions on how to build the 24 Euro Chair (named after the cost of the components) free of charge from Le-Mentzel’s blog page. These and many other designs are now available in book form from the prestigious art publisher Hatje Cantz. You can’t buy the furniture itself: “Build More, Buy Less!” is Le-Mentzel’s motto. And the ideas keep flowing: financed by donations from the internet community (crowdfunding) he recently had shoes manufactured that conform to ecological and ethical stan­dards. And this winter he is giving a Berlin charity for the homeless a mobile wooden hut for their catering service.