Objects of Desire: Design and Society, 1750-1980

Objects of Desire: Design and Society, 1750-1980

by Adrian Forty
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

"One of the most significant contributions to design history in recent years."—Financial TimesObjects of Desire looks at the appearance of consumer goods in the 200 years since the introduction of mechanized production, whether in Josiah Wedgewood's use of neo-classicism for his industrially manufactured pottery or the development of appropriate forms for

…  See more details below

Overview

"One of the most significant contributions to design history in recent years."—Financial TimesObjects of Desire looks at the appearance of consumer goods in the 200 years since the introduction of mechanized production, whether in Josiah Wedgewood's use of neo-classicism for his industrially manufactured pottery or the development of appropriate forms for wirelesses. The argument is illustrated with examples ranging from penknives to computers and from sewing machines to railway carriages. In opening up new ways of appraising the man-made world around us, Objects of Desire is required reading for anyone who has any involvement with design and a revealing document about our society.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A social history of industrial and consumer design, this provocative study opens up new ways of looking at thousands of objects in our daily environment. Forty, a British architectural historian, notes that design changes have played a key role in gaining acceptance for products and creating wealth. Eighteenth century manufacturers drew heavily on archaic models to overcome consumer resistance to new technology, whereas contemporary makers of high-tech gadgets design utopian images promising a better future. The Victorian home, a sentimental ``palace of illusions,'' was stuffed with theatrical furniture and intricate harmonies that smothered all associations with the unscrupulous world of commerce and work. Notions of cleanliness and hygiene have figured prominently in design, from Le Corbusier's polished exteriors to the streamlining of railway compartment upholstery to remodeling of bathroom fixtures and vacuum cleaners. Forty shows that much more than artistic taste goes into design considerations. Hundreds of illustrations are interwoven with the text. (March 28)
Library Journal
Intriguing for its illustrations of oddities in the history of industrial design (e.g., the Squirrel sewing machine, 1858), Forty's analysis is basically soft-sell Marxist ideology, written for general readers. The author's research is based primarily upon secondary sources, with comments added to demonstrate his thesis: ``To make sense of design, we must recognize that its disguising, concealing, and tranforming powers have been essential to the progress of modern industrial societies.'' Chapters are thematic: ``Hygiene and Cleanliness,'' for example, treats refrigerators, bathrooms, railway coach cars, school chairs, and vacuum cleaners. Recommended, with reservations, for large collections. Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Art Dept., Goucher Coll., Towson, Md.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394507927
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/12/1986
Edition description:
1st American ed
Pages:
256

Meet the Author

Adrian Forty is Professor of Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning, University College, London.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >