Excerpt: Magazine
Geoff McFetridge in Apartamento #04

The fourth and most recent issue of Apartamento, one of our very favorite publications, includes a special kids’ supplement called Kinder, curated by Andy Beach, one of our very favorite bloggers. Apartamento bills itself as “an everyday life interiors magazine,” and Kinder follows suit: There’s an acid-trip of a coloring book illustrated by Andy Rementer; the Memphis-esque results of a furniture-building workshop for kids; and a story about a collection of objects that Los Angeles graphic designer Geoff McFetridge made for his daughter Frances, which is excerpted here in its entirety. The words are by McFetridge himself, and the photographs were taken by Ye Rin Mok.

“There’s nothing I like better than to build things for my 6-year-old daughter Frances. As an artist and designer, I spend much of my time making things, or helping other people make things. In making these things for her, I feel like I’m putting these skills to good use.

“Mindlessly swinging a hammer and cutting wood is always fun and, unlike a wobbly homemade bookshelf, with these things it really is the thought that counts. I built her a tree house out of the cherry tree in her grandparents’ backyard, but I didn’t want to hammer any nails into the tree. If I had planned it out, the measuring and complexity of the cuts would have taken a long time… days. Instead, I made it up as I went along. It was improvisation; a tree house, built as the tree grows. It looks like a hobo shanty, which actually makes it look more fun, not less fun. And fun is the goal of all these things.

“Frances loves most of the things I have built for her. Which, of course, is the reward; watching your daughter enjoy something that you made. But there’s also something deeper that comes out of the experience. The sensation I get when making these things feels the same as when something I am doing in my studio is going RIGHT. Simple, improvised, handmade, mindless things made in the spirit of fun for someone I love… The things I make for my daughter are maybe just a pure form of the things I try to make in general.”

“Things I Make For My Daughter” is excerpted from Apartamento magazine’s Autumn/Winter 2009-10 issue, with minor modifications to fit Sight Unseen’s format. Click here to subscribe to Apartamento magazine.

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Clothes Drying Rack 2006. With this, I had to go to the hardware store to buy the dowels. Ideally the things I build for Frances are made of the many pieces of scrap wood I keep in our garage. This was not actually a big hit — it ended up a bit too tall for her, but now it’s making a comeback as she gets taller.

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Play Kitchen 2004. I made this mini-kitchen out of a piece of our real kitchen that I ripped out, so it exactly matches. I love the grain and color of aged plywood. This plywood is 50 years old. To finish it off, I bought a real top and a real burner; the knobs are just plywood. I like that some parts are very real and some are very fake. Your imagination is sparked, but you have to take it the rest of the way.

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Recent Random Drawings 2009. I make something next to her and we take turns coming up with what will happen next. These were little collage drawings. I love to see how she interprets what I do, it’s a bit like seeing something through a kid’s eyes, which is mind-blowing. On the right are a couple of snowflakes and a little guy with a black beret she made on her own.

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Reading Chair 2007. Frances and I went to see Barbara Bestor’s house being built. Frances was really inspired and started to gather up scraps of wood that were lying around. She kept asking me, “Dad, can we build a house?” When we got home, we put all the scraps we had in the backyard and I told her the house was going to be small. She was disappointed. I suggested we build something else. Soon this reading chair took shape. She came up with the little stopper that holds the book open. That blew my mind. She was 4!

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EZTP 2007. Frances was really into making forts, and we came up with this design for making a Teepee out of a quilt. You put it together on the bed then throw the quilt over the top. Frances would hide inside her teepee and have a snack or look at books. This is Phoebe. She is less than 1 here. She’s going to be fun to make stuff for, but she’s still a bit young. I’m sure she’s going to have some great ideas.

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Frances’s Art Table. My wife bought this table on eBay. It’s an old-school table from Ohio, I think. It’s sad that they surely replaced all these nice wood tables with plastic crap. You could park a car on this table, it’s so solid.

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Step Stool 2004. I think every kid needs their own step stool. They’re so short but desperately want to be a part of the action. With a step stool they can be self-sufficient. Frances can help make dinner or do projects at the table, or wash her hands. It’s gotten a lot of use. This is also made out of the old pieces of our kitchen that I didn’t use for the mini-kitchen, so it also matches as well. It has wobbled a little since day 1, but it doesn’t seem to get worse.