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Posted March 30, 2010
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"Talk About Design" is a smart, insightful look at design issues for those who want to be better informed on the topic.
Elisabeth Couturier is an art critic, journalist and TV producer who drew on her fine arts knowledge to explain trends, products, styles and the people who create the art. The items examined are extremely diverse, meant to catch your eye, amuse and surprise. There's a shopping cart converted to an armchair, a 1930 pressure cooker, a chandelier featuring black pendants and crystal, a metallic spiral staircase, an ergonomical plastic razor, an antique chest of drawers and dozens of other creations.
After explaining what constitutes design, how design issues work with technology, fashion and functional needs, and a short introduction to designs through history, the author moves into a quick account of design trends from the 1920s through the 1990s and into the 2000s. From there, we learn about baroque, minimalism, environmental, hi-tech and natural definitions, and are introduced to 30 key designers, including Gaetano Pesce, Ingo Maurer, Ron Arad and Pierre Charpin, with examples of some of their works.
An especially clever chapter entitled "A Front Row Seat to Innovation" takes us through chair design, starting with an 1859 Thonet Brothers basic chair made in Moldavia, through Eero Saarinen's 1948 Womb chair, to Frank Gehry's 1972 Wiggle Side chair to Patrick Jouin's 2004 Solid C'l Seat.
There's also an appendix timeline and an explanation of French style.
You will see things in a different, more informed way, after reading this book, and you'll walk away feeling educated, though not lectured.