The Art of Things: Product Design Since 1945

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9780789212085: The Art of Things: Product Design Since 1945

The most ambitious survey of its subject ever published, The Art of Things is a monument, and a key, to the objects that surround us.

For most of human history, the form of a useful object was determined by its maker, usually a single artisan working within a long cultural tradition. However, the Industrial Revolution saw the development of a curious new profession, that of the designer, whose job it was to decide the appearance and even the functional aspects of goods—whether typewriters or tableware—that would be manufactured by others or, increasingly, by machines. When the so-called consumer society emerged in full force after World War II, designers took center stage; some, like Charles and Ray Eames, became celebrities and icons of the new lifestyles they were helping to create.

Within the burgeoning design community, national tendencies emerged: The Germans and the Swiss, heirs to the Bauhaus, favored a modernist aesthetic in which form followed function, and the Scandinavians pioneered a warmer type of functionalism with their distinctive wooden furniture. The U.S. pursued a double strategy, in which home furnishings influenced by European modernism coexisted with frankly exuberant cars and kitchen appliances. Meanwhile, the Japanese consumer electronics companies took an early lead in the branch of industrial design that is perhaps most influential today—and is perhaps best represented by the image of Steve Jobs holding aloft an iPhone before an adoring crowd.

This splendid hardcover, slipcased volume, itself a striking object, narrates the history of modern design in each of the major industrialized nations in turn. Its engaging text, written by leading historians of design, is accompanied by more than 650 vibrant color plates, illustrating both iconic designs and lesser-known but still influential creations. The most ambitious survey of its subject ever published, The Art of Things is a monument, and a key, to the objects that surround us.

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About the Author:

Dominique Forest is chief curator of the modern and contemporary department at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. She has organized exhibitions of the work of Konstantin Grcic, Jasper Morrison, Maarten Baas, and other prominent designers.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Excerpt from The Art of Things

Introduction

The first use of the word design” to mean a plan or pattern for a manufactured object appears in nineteenth century England, in the writings of Henry Cole, the organizer of the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 the original World’s Fair. Two years earlier, Cole had launched the Journal of Design and Manufactures in collaboration with Richard Redgrave.

The definition of design” has evolved over time and now embraces a broad range of associations. It was in the United States, in the years before World War II, that it came to describe a creative discipline whose purpose was to shape products so as to enhance their appearance, and possibly their performance. A professional in this field was now referred to as a designer.” Not until the 1950s, though, did the word design” take its place beside the term industrial aesthetics” in continental Europe.Soon the expression became interchangeable, and design” ultimately triumphed, becoming commonplace in the parlance of architectural and home furnishing circles. However, many people still did not understand exactly what the word encompassed, and additional clarification was needed. The Centre de Création Industrielle (CCI), established in 1969 by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, was thus inaugurated with an exhibition titles Qu’est-ce que le design? (What is design?). Charles Eames, Joe Colombo, and Roger Tallon, all legendary figures, were invited to give their own definitions and provide illustrative examples.

The history of design is inseparable from the vast changes that swept through the Western world between 1850 and 1950, particularly the extraordinary acceleration of the production of manufactured goods. Remarkable efficiencies arose from mechanization and the mastery of new materials. In the 1860s, the English Arts and Crafts movement started a debate about the respective qualities and production conditions of artisanal crafts and industrial goods. This controversy was taken up again in Germany in the early twentieth century, and figured into the new ideas and experiments that, in the 1920s, were synthesized in that laboratory of forms for the modern age, the Bauhaus (plate 16). From then on, a powerful tide of modernism would progressively eradicate the forms and styles of the past, ultimately severing ties with tradition. Because modernism established itself on the rejection of ornament, one strand of the history of design concerns the movements back and forth with respect to one enduring question: whether form and function should have primacy, or decoration.

The first study of the conditions of modernity that led to the emergence of design was Pioneers of the Modern Movement (1936), by the art historian Nikolaus Pevsner. The objectives to a pragmatic approach to design, servings the needs of industry and end users, were explored in the writings of American designers, including Horizons (1932) by Norman Bel Geddes and Designing for People (1955) by Henry Dreyfuss. Theorists, critics and architects soon made their own contributions to the debate, including the Italian Gillo Dorfles, in Il disegno industrial in Italia (1957), and the Briton Reyner Banham, in Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (1960). In the 1970s, the history of design began to arouse particular interest in many countries. The French scholar Jocelyn de Noblet produced on of the first syntheses of the subject in Design, introduction à l’histoire de l’evolution des forms industrielles de 1820 à aujourd’hui (1974).

Along with countless publications on design, a number of exhibitions have, since the early 1980s, responded to the growing public interest int he decor and products of a changing world. In 1983-84, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presented a show entitled Design Since 1945. Its very instructive catalog was written primarily by the leading figures of the time, designers and manufacturers both European and American: Ettore Sottsass, George Nelson, Max Bill, Timo Sarpaneva, Olivier Mourgue, Bruno Danes, Hans Wegner, and Marco Zanuso. Ten years later, Design mirror du siécle opened at the Grand Palais in Paris. It had the ambitious goal of demonstrating and explaining the principles of design, by means of more than 1,600 designed” objects, ranging from coffee cups to cars.

Design has won its place slowly in the permanent collections of museums. The Museum of Modern Art in New York was among the first to add the everyday objects that are now associated with design” to its collections, in the 1930s. Gradually, other museums of modern and decorative art, in cities ranging from London and Paris to Rotterdam, Montreal, and Munich, began to follow suit. Specialized museums devoted exclusively to design appears considerably later. The Vitra Design Museum, design by Frank Gehry, was established by the furniture company Vitra in Weil am Rhein in 1989, the same year that London’s Design Museum opened its doors. While Italy boasted a number of company-sponsored museums (those of Kartell and Alessi, for example), it had to wait a long time for the Triennial Design Museum to open in Milan in 2007. In Tokyo, the Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake inaugurated the center known as 21_21 Design Sight in 2008, to host temporary exhibitions on design.

While museums have certainly played an important role in raising awareness of design among the public at large, designers themselves have come together to advocate for recognition of their work by manufacturers and governments. Professional organizations have likewise contributed to the recognition and understanding of design. Over the course of the twentieth century, then, design has defined and encompassed a vast undertaking: that of constantly renewing products and adapting them to their times. Moreover, design has continued to expand in scope, which now extends from vehicles to furnishings, and from high tech to the routine objects of daily life. Because this process has manifested itself in different forms, and at different paces, in Europe, the U.S., and Asia, the contributors to this volume were given the latitude to present the history of design in each region as they saw best. Each writer has picked out the salient features and personalities indeed, the highlights of design in these places over the long period covered in this volume, which extends from the end of the World War II to the present day. We have called upon acknowledged experts in the field, scholars with many important works already to their credit, to contribute to this comprehensive study.

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Descripción Abbeville Press Inc.,U.S., United States, 2014. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The most ambitious survey of its subject ever published, The Art of Things is a monument, and a key, to the objects that surround us. For most of human history, the form of a useful object was determined by its maker, usually a single artisan working within a long cultural tradition. However, the Industrial Revolution saw the development of a curious new profession, that of the designer, whose job it was to decide the appearance and even the functional aspects of goods--whether typewriters or tableware--that would be manufactured by others or, increasingly, by machines. When the so-called consumer society emerged in full force after World War II, designers took center stage; some, like Charles and Ray Eames, became celebrities and icons of the new lifestyles they were helping to create. Within the burgeoning design community, national tendencies emerged: The Germans and the Swiss, heirs to the Bauhaus, favored a modernist aesthetic in which form followed function, and the Scandinavians pioneered a warmer type of functionalism with their distinctive wooden furniture. The U.S. pursued a double strategy, in which home furnishings influenced by European modernism coexisted with frankly exuberant cars and kitchen appliances. Meanwhile, the Japanese consumer electronics companies took an early lead in the branch of industrial design that is perhaps most influential today--and is perhaps best represented by the image of Steve Jobs holding aloft an iPhone before an adoring crowd. This splendid hardcover, slipcased volume, itself a striking object, narrates the history of modern design in each of the major industrialized nations in turn. Its engaging text, written by leading historians of design, is accompanied by more than 650 vibrant color plates, illustrating both iconic designs and lesser-known but still influential creations. The most ambitious survey of its subject ever published, The Art of Things is a monument, and a key, to the objects that surround us. Nº de ref. de la librería AA99780789212085

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