“How-tos”, short sets of instructions on how to solve a narrowly defined problem, are immensely popular. Affectionate and equally ironic exploration of the popular, in this case the generally understandable common sense conveyed by the ten rules in How to Work Better, is among the most important artistic methods employed by Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Their fascination with the object found on the wayside and transferred to the art context also plays a role.
In 1990/1991, it was David Weiss who came across the ten rules on the facade of a ceramics workshop in Thailand and photographed them. Peter Fischli later pinned a copy of these mantras on the wall of the studio, prompting the two artists to spend several months using them as a way of taking the mickey out of each other. It was not until the architectural office Suter & Suter approached the artists with a private art-in-architecture commission, that what had been a mere curiosity was transformed into a serious work. In 1991, the ten manifesto-like maxims of How to Work Better were painted on a nondescript office building’s rear facade, facing the railway line, in Oerlikon, Zurich. As the office building was right beside the busy commuter route between Zurich and Winterthur, the work was exposed to the public eye like a gigantic billboard.