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Eva Zeisel On Design: The Magic Language of Things Paperback – November 29, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook TP; Reprint edition (November 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781590206898
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590206898
  • ASIN: 1590206894
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite having lived through both moderism’s advent and its ‘post’-ification, 97-year-old designer Zeisel advocates a pre-modernist concept of "magic design language" in this lavishly illustrated tribute to her inspirations, accomplishments and beliefs. The Hungarian-born Zeisel spent the early years of her career in the U.S.S.R., until she was accused of plotting to murder Stalin. After 16 months of arrest, she was inexplicably freed, and arrived in New York via Austria and England in 1938. Within 10 years, she was at the forefront of America ceramic design. Her work now resides in the collections of major museums. Throughout this volume, Zeisel compares the objects that she has designed with works from ancient and contemporary cultures. Her smooth, evocative forks, glasses, cups, irons, tea pots are juxtaposed with long-limbed cacti, the arches of a medieval cloister, the "ragged contour" of an Iranian village wall and an Etruscan "spiky pitcher." The photos unfold organically, loosely grouped around various design precepts. Alone, a tall teapot skewed on its axis "makes us feel ill-at-ease"; balanced with a second one facing it, "the teapots seem to be dancing," Zeisel writes—thus the magic. In one of the most amusing parts of the book, Zeisel shows how her students often resemble their own designs, deftly reminding us of the close link she advocates between works and the people who make them. With a film on her life recently completed, and further books on her work forthcoming, expect a Zeisel renaissance. 164 color and 85 b&w photographs.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"'[Zeisel] is absolutely one of the greats of twentieth-century design... Her work is about the emotional effect objects have on us. It is the most essential and meaningful activity' Christopher Wilk, Chief Curator, Department of Furniture and Woodwork, The Victoria and Albert Museum 'Zeisel has always been ahead of, or outside, her time... She is justly revered for enlivening the 20th century with elegant, expressive modern ceramics' The Washington Post" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Karl Becker on November 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Eva does not subscribe to the theory "newer is better." The artist/designer's observations "On Design," refined from years of experience in the world of art and product design, exhibit a warm attitude toward design along with a distaste for the modern movement she has seen develop since her birth in 1906.

Zeisel believes the modern movement focused too much on removing and simplifying. She discusses why the philosophy of `simplify, simplify,' and the expectation of modern designers to create a visual appearance entirely unique for each new product, has simultaneously increased novelty. "Our inherent belief in evolution has led to our appreciation of novelty. ... [Designers] often forget to tone down [a product's] over-interesting features, its novelty, because we ... want to show our skill." Creating products void of character, personality, and warmth is something Zeisel wants future designers to avoid.

Zeisel's reflection on evolution leading to appreciation of novelty is as applicable to 24 hour news channels as to the design of objects. Eva hopes the 21st century will bring beauty, harmony, loveliness, and elegance to design, qualities she believes were not aims of the 20th century's modern movement.

The book itself is well done. The 169 full-color and 75 black-and-white photos, the focus of the book, are printed cleanly and driven by a nicely flowing narration. There is no shortage of photos depicting Eva's creations, but there are even more pictures of objects that are Eva's inspirations or examples of ideas. One particularly jarring photo shows what the Chrysler Building may have looked like without the proper attention given to its structure.
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By J. Lee on June 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good information on the artist and good picture resume of her work. I recommend this book if you are interested in Eva Zeisel.
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By Art student on January 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I saw a www, interview with this delightful lady and got the book for use as a text book for my art studies. She is deceased now but was a women who made beautiful vessels
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