Lloyd Kahn
Shelter not Cabinporn

February 4 2023

Lloyd Kahn (born 1935) is arguably the most influential pioneer of the DIY building movement that emerged in the counterculture of the 1960s. Besides being trained as a carpenter and having built many homes by hand, he also has a special talent for presenting information in an easy-to-understand form, a skill he puts to use as editor-in-chief of Shelter Publications, where he releases books on building and fitness.

His first contact with the craft of publishing was in 1968 when he became a key contributor to the creation of The Whole Earth Catalog, which led him to publish two books on dome building and then, in 1973, the book Shelter (which went on to sell over 300.000 copies).

The name Shelter is significant here, as it describes the essence of why we build. When we speak of architecture we think of monumental structures or at least buildings for an elite, and not of the homes built to meet our most human needs. This is what I find so empowering about Kahn’s emphasis on building traditions outside the architectural canon: The message that you can still create your own home, without being rich or a professional. Much of what is presented to us today under the label #cabinporn has little to do with this utopian spirit that encourages a forgotten self-efficacy beyond what money can buy.

More on Lloyd Kahn’s Instagram or blog.

Steve Job’s Google of the 60s: Whole Earth Catalog + Homestead Tour with Lloyd Kahn (2011)