Edited by Phaidon Editors
Phaidon Press, $19.95, 510 pages
Reading the title, you have no idea what to expect. Yet The Design Book is a fascinating, informative and absorbing reading, something you read little bit at a time. This small-format, hardcover book lists five hundred of the millions of products we live with, each having a half-page photo illustration and half-page description. The descriptions are very good, very readable, starting with a brief summary of the design with date of invention and name of inventor, if known. Each one gives us information of how the piece was designed, its history, sometimes its dimensions and even something about the designer’s life and achievements. The choices are much too heavy on furniture and home accessories, and since this is a British book, many of the designs are European most of us never heard of; those you are likely to leaf through. The designs are listed in chronological order starting with household scissors invented in China in 1663 to the Dyson Air Multiplier, invented in 2009. A few of the everyday items we use are included but many you would expect to see are missing. The target readers for this book are the British. The index lists the products in alphabetic order.
Reviewed by George Erdosh
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