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Reinventing the Wheel
     

Reinventing the Wheel

by Jessica Helfland
 
As inventive as instructive, information wheels-or volvelles-have been used since the fourteenth century to measure, record, predict, and calculate everything form time and space to military history and recipes. In this fascinating book, designer and critic Jessica Helfand offers and in-depth look at these unique artifacts, which are not only clever and amusing-where

Overview

As inventive as instructive, information wheels-or volvelles-have been used since the fourteenth century to measure, record, predict, and calculate everything form time and space to military history and recipes. In this fascinating book, designer and critic Jessica Helfand offers and in-depth look at these unique artifacts, which are not only clever and amusing-where else could you dial-in ingredients to concoct "Creamed Oysters and Celery"?-but, Helfand argues, relevant as a model for modern interactive design.From circular mathematical slide rules to Captain Marvel phonetic decoders; from nuclear bomb blast calculators to gestational breeding planners; and from astronomical planispheres to presidential trivia plotters, Reinventing the Wheel demonstrates the astonishing range and remarkable utility of these ingenious "interactive" tools.

Author Biography: Jessica Helfand is partner with William Drenttel in Jessica Helfand/William Drenttel, a design consultancy. She has been collecting wheels for several years.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This thoroughly unusual book by designer and critic Helfand will delight graphic, information, and book designers. It will equally fascinate those interested in intellectual history, history of technology, and popular culture. Helfand begins with an essay that interweaves the history of wheel charts with humanity's fascination with the circle. The earliest volvelles (graduated movable paper circles-within-circles), as they are also called, are found in Renaissance astronomy texts. They offer data on celestial cycles, movements of the heavenly bodies, and the tides. Illustrations of these early texts are beautifully reproduced here. Other volvelles, such as the planisphere, a kind of manual computer used to reveal the portion of the night sky visible from a particular spot on earth, are discussed. The 20th century saw a mass audience develop for volvelles, representing an enormous range of topics from astronomy to American history to zoology, and the major portion of this book is devoted to full-page illustrations of these. Readers interested in information design will seek this out, while those interested in book and graphic design will be thrilled by the surprise. Includes footnotes and bibliography. For large libraries. Michael Dashkin, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
The origin of graphic design critic Helfand's book on every type of circular interface originates in her own extensive collection of these ubiquitous objects. Sandwiched between the lengthy introductory and concluding essays is a catalog with color plates, dimensions, manufacturer, and descriptive entry of the "movable, concentrically-aligned" wheels that allow you to dial for information of all sorts, including dial-a-weight, dial-a-word, dial-a- remedy, and dial-a-recipe. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781568983387
Publisher:
Princeton Architectural Press
Publication date:
06/28/2002
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
7.85(w) x 9.81(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Jessica Helfand is partner with William Drenttel in Jessica Helfand/William Drenttel, a design consultancy.

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