Saturday, 31 January 2015

The fluid lines of modernity

Some other books that cover the same subject.
The essence of this book are ninety-five heavily illustrated biographies of the designers and artists from around the world who produced the feel and look of mid-century creativity. The seven chapters cover: Furniture (109 pages) Lighting (42) Glass and ceramics (58) Textiles (46) Industrial and product design (48) Graphics (55) Houses and interiors (123). This is a very comprehensive coverage of modernity though, in my view, with some slight idiosyncrasies: why does the rather narrowly defined Lighting get so many pages and the broad scope of Industrial design only forty-eight and not one Case Study House is featured in the Houses chapter.

Each of the chapters has one or two essays with an overview of the subject with Furniture and Houses also looking at the collecting aspect. I thought these illustrated essays well worth reading especially Steven Heller's on 'Type, design and technology' and the author neatly sums up modernity with his six page intro. There is also a useful thirty-three page illustrated A-Z at the back of the book with about three hundred entries of individuals and companies, looking through these I found it hard to think of someone who had been left out.

Because the biographies are more or less standard detail, the sort of thing you can read in books by design historians Charlotte and Peter Fiell, it's the photos that made the pages come alive for me, there are over a thousand of them, all in colour and mostly big on the page. Slightly annoying that several hundred are cutouts floating on the page without a slight drop shadow, some do have this shadow effect and it makes them look much more interesting. The Houses chapter, the longest in the book, is particularly fine with plenty of wonderful interiors, rather the opposite of many architectural books that tend to favour just an exterior shot of a house.

Complete in the book's title is very true.

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