Monday, November 29, 2004

From My Library

Because design is all around us, it often goes unnoticed unless it's strikingly awful--as in the case of an uncomfortable chair or a pen that's too large to hold correctly. Conversely, great design is commonly overlooked because it performs so well--the perfect typeface or an ever-present logo, for example. An Yves Saint Laurent woman's dinner jacket worn without a shirt and an Eero Aarnio bright orange ball chair from the 1960s, however, are two wonderful designs that won't soon be lost in the shuffle. World Design, an encyclopedia of some of the best designed objects and ideas of the 20th century, takes readers on a visual tour of smart things designed for living. Arranged alphabetically by designer, it begins with beautiful Aino Aalto (the wife of Alvar) ridged glassware from the 1930s. The pressed glass rings that encircle these pitchers and drinking glasses were originally conceived as a means to hide imperfections in the material, but the visual simplicity has been routinely imitated by other designers since then. At the other end of this thick book, readers will find a page for Marco Zanuso, the Italian industrial designer who created a yellow plastic portable television in 1964. In between, readers are treated to glimpses of iconic objects by Le Corbusier and Issey Miyake as well as newer, innovative designs such as a chair made of a transparent gel originally used only in medicine. Along with the beautiful, these pages document objects that changed our world: Earl S. Tupper's ingenious, now-ubiquitous containers revolutionized food storage when they were introduced with their airtight lids in the late 1930s. At a hefty 432 pages with 1,000 color photographs, this book is full of fascinating information and wonderful images that track the last 100 years of influential design.