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The Art of Things

Product Design since 1945

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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.

Holiday Gift Guide Selection -- The Wall Street Journal

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 function 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 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 700 vibrant color plates, illustrating both iconic designs and lesser-known but still influential creations.

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Branding and Design in Cigarette Packaging

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This volume presents more than 300 cigarette packs showing how designers have used words and pictures and eye-catching graphic design to make smoking irresistible.

For more than a hundred years, the well-heeled cigarette industry has hired some of the world's cleverest designers to make smoking appeal to as many different types of people in as many different cultures as possible. The result is compelling graphic design that employs a startling range of images, from saints to skeletons, golden bats to butterflies, tartans to top hats. This compendium of some of the best examples is an additively entertaining resource for designers, typographers, commercial artists, and branding professionals, as well as collectors.Complementing the striking images is a flavorful text that explores the changing ways that specific cigarette brands have been promoted over the years. What factors distinguish a successful brand from a flop? Who smokes Life cigarettes, and who picks up a pack of Death instead? Why did the industry market both Uptown and Downtown brands simultaneously? What makes certain symbols popular across far-flung national boundaries — Tiger cigarettes, for example, pop up from Latin America to Indonesia. And how much has the packaging contributed to the fact that cigarettes are still consumed with fervor by people all around the world, regardless of class, culture, and the well-known health risks?

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Fine Art of Wood

The Bohlen Collection

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A showcase of contemporary creations in wood by nearly 100 international artists.

With more than 130 works created during the past decade, The Fine Art of Wood celebrates a pivotal artistic breakthrough: artists working in wood now claim the same freedom of expression long enjoyed by ceramists and glass artists. These innovative new pieces, which feature strikingly handsome shapes, unusual finishes, and woods from every corner of the world, have been beautifully photographed and reproduced here in conjunction with an upcoming exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts

The book's intelligent introduction also breaks new ground, tracing the evolution of these works away from traditional crafts and putting them in the aesthetic context of the fine arts by persuasively linking them to such recent movements as Pop art and Minimalism. An extensive catalog section spotlights the visual pleasures of the works themselves, by artists ranging from David Ellsworth, Ron Kent, and Mark Lindquist to Rude Osolnick and Bob Stocksdale.

 

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