New Books: How Designers See the World
Our roundup of new books covers James Dyson on his hits and misses, Stephen Bayley on the Age of Combustion, an exploration of vintage synthesizers, and a manual for ax lovers.
Enjoy this eclectic selection of new books, tackling everything from ancient technologies and modern stories, archival research, industrial might and cultural change. Each of these books tells fascinating stories about designers and the way they see the world.
Designing a world for all
Designing a world for all: 30 years of inclusive design explores the work of the Helen Hamlyn Center for Design at the Royal College of Art. Author Jeremy Myerson was one of the co-founders of the department, a pioneer in inclusive design research, and then led it for 16 years. The center has had a huge impact on all areas of product design, from ambulance interiors to beer glasses, clothing to app design, examining the often unintended consequences of well-intentioned products, social pricing. and economic concepts that are inaccessible and the means where research and inquiry can contribute to a more just world.
Until safety is proven
Writers Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley have always combined their interest in the built environment with a fascination with how spaces have evolved to serve very specific functions. Until Safety Is Proven: The History and Future of Quarantine is a timely look at the architecture of exclusion – spaces designed to save us from each other. As soon as the contagion and transmission were understood, physical measures were put in place to prevent the spread of plague and plague. This intriguing travelogue takes us from medieval lazarets, or quarantine stations for sailors, to spaces shaped by concerns of the modern era, from Ebola to HIV and Covid-19.
Buchanan-Smith’s Ax Manual
Buchanan-Smith’s Ax Manual gets right to the heart of why we love books. An ode to “the oldest tool known to mankind”, the Ax manual literally offers everything you need to know about the history, evolution, crafting, maintenance and use of this most essential everyday tool. The author, New York designer Peter Buchanan-Smith, created Best Made Co in 2009, a company dedicated to selling clothing and accessories that have endured for generations. This deep dive into a truly durable object is beautifully landscaped and should probably only be put aside in a true rural retreat.
Bjooks is a publisher of lavish music-themed monographs, each devoted to a specific aspect of contemporary electronic music production. Their titles include Patch & Tweak, Pedal Crush, and Push Turn Move, the latter examining the myriad of devices developed to shape modern sounds and the creativity imposed by limitations, tweaks, and hacks. The last volume of Bjooks, Synth Gems, delves into the graphic and industrial design of the golden age of small synthesizer makers, offbeat machines and timeless classics.
Patented: 1,000 design patents
Presenting itself as a practical guide to the art of patent application, Thomas Rinaldi’s new book is both a story of industrial design that we have and objects that have never been cut. – sometimes for very obvious reasons. Rinaldi’s investigation sometimes resembles an “origin of the species” for archetypal objects, as well as a chronicle of stylistic changes and a parade of mistaken ideas. Along the way, it includes familiar shapes and well-known names, reminding us that any innovation, no matter how small, has to start somewhere.
Invention: a life
Part an inspiring business book, part a personal story and all the engineering, Invention: a life is the autobiography of James Dyson. The enterprising British engineer is a pragmatist at heart, someone who believes in drilling until the right path or the right solution presents itself. Famous, Dyson and his team have built over 5,000 prototypes of the cleaner that made his name and fortune, but there have been many other products (and prototypes) that haven’t had the same impact. Dyson’s faith in progress shines through, and he is to be commended for devoting so much attention to failed projects – including a chapter devoted to the Dyson car, one of the most enticing “what ifs” in the world. recent automotive history – like those we know so well.
An alphabet of architectural models
Twenty-six essays on all facets of the role played by the architectural model, from history to digital design. Beautifully illustrated throughout, the book includes pieces written by Dow Jones architects Roz Barr and Spencer de Gray, and (unsurprisingly) concludes that the physical model will continue to have a role to play.
The age of combustion
Stephen Bayley has always had a fascination with the automobile, and in particular the fascination it exerts on us. In The age of combustion, the design historian, writer and curator engages the reader with a rambling collection of automotive design notes, filled with both personal and historical anecdotes, and plenty of wasp asides. Bayley has both industry connections and strong beliefs, and he sometimes feels adrift in the midst of an evolving automotive culture that no longer revere the idols of yesteryear. Nonetheless, there are still some fascinating stories on the road to be told.