Design it, produce it and consume it
Despite being some years old I still think this book offers a reasonable overview of the subject and one reason I've always enjoyed using it for reference is that the editorial is very accessible. It doesn't fall into the trap of being too elitist and nicely a lot of the text relates to everyday items.
The editorial runs from 1851 up to 1993, with these years divided up into sections: 1851-1879; 1880-1917; 1918-1945; 1946-1973;1974-1993. Each of these opens with a year by year timeline mixing important design developments with the social and political aspects of the times. This is followed by essays from various commentators and within these essays is one of the strengths of the book because there are seventy-four Design Classics that look in detail at products in text and photos. For example the products in mid-century include: electric guitar; Vespa scooter; Christian Dior; Eames chair; shopping trolley; Barbie doll; Braun products; Lego.
I think it's worth pointing out that the book was published in conjunction with an exhibition in Paris so the editorial is obviously European focused though a clearly American design style: Streamline has been written by design historian Jeffrey Meikle.
The book looks good with a well selected eight hundred photos and graphics but a few of the Design Classic pages rather annoyingly have text overprinted on photos making some of the words a bit unreadable. Overall a fascinating history of things that surround us in everyday life.
Other books on industrial design.
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