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Humble Masterpieces: Everyday Marvels of Design Paperback – November 29, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins Design; 1st edition (November 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060838310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060838317
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 7.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,462,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It takes seven days to create the flavorful, jewel-like cabochon of candy known as a Jelly Belly, seven months to fashion a worthy champagne cork, and no time at all to become enthralled by the 100 ubiquitous objects portrayed in this book. Antonelli, curator of the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Design and Architecture, imbues the text with reverence and passion befitting these revolutionary objects. Whether elaborating on modern design icons like the Post-it Note and the Chinese Take-out Box, or on designs so ancient their genesis is lost-the boomerang and chopsticks, for example-the author illustrates how each object's design fulfills its promise. The objects showcased here are significant because either their functionality has made them essential to peoples' lives (the safety pin, the condom), or because "like the Slinky or the Rubik's Cube, they have added so much delight to the history of our material culture that they deserve a prominent space in our world." Antonelli focuses on common designs that are used all over the world; consequently, the universality of good design is underscored. The author emphasizes the visceral and tactile qualities that make each object appealing, while the striking close-up photography shows how "their form efficiently describes their function." Antonelli has succeeded in showing how everyday design has both beauty and agency in this visual wonder of a book.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Antonelli imbues the text with reverence and passion befitting these revolutionary objects. . . . Visual wonder of a book.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A must-have compendium for the aesthetic perfectionist in you.” (City Page One)

“A heartening read.” (New York Times)

“Humble Masterpieces, like the designs it highlights, does its job smartly, eloquently, tidily.” (Cnn.com)

“Brilliantly conceived, impeccably executed, comprehensive, authoritative, chockablock with gorgeous photography and fascinating, surprising information.” (Kurt Andersen)

“Delightfully illustrated.” (Virgina Postrel)

Merit Award, Special Trade-General, New York Book Show (No Source)

“Cleverly designed.” (The Architect's Newspaper)

“Short but fascinating vignettes on each object’s creation or lifecycle. Inspirational.” (Business Week)

“One of those surprising books we never imagined we needed, but we do.” (Interior Design)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
Very nice book with loads of pictures and lovely illustrations.
Helle Abild Ulstrup
The way in which design has created enduring solutions to problems & how items as simple as the sugar cube have true power in their design.
DONALD
The book features 100 ordinary objects for their special designs.
Virginia Allain

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Allain on December 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book could be a guessing game. Look at the close-up photo and see if you can guess what humble, everyday object it is (don't peek at the text). The color and textures and shape in the photos are gorgeous on their own.

The book features 100 ordinary objects for their special designs. The book originates from a 2004 exhibition of the same title at MOMA. It celebrates objects familiar (scissors, lipstick, zipper, ballpoint pen, coffee cozy) to all of us.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Chirag on December 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
I spotted this book at my college Library and promptly went and grabbed it from the bookstore. The book talks about how simple things like the bobby pin, chopsticks were invented.

Goes to show that innovation exists all around us.

A definite must have for a marketeer, or a business person dealing with consumers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By emk on December 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
compact and concise, this small gem of a book gives star power to the everyday object. great for those who appreciate the little things.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By rebecca channel on March 21, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have bought a total of 8 of these books, the last batch from Amazon. I still need to get another because I have ended up giving them all away. Thoughtful, creative people love it! Also, it is a great gift for those who seem to have everything.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bronx book nerd VINE VOICE on March 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
I couldn't make it past page 71 of this 203 page book. I was attracted to the book based on the author's comments about the need to have designers get involved in policy making. Her claim that designers always keep the human component in mind was convincing. So I started this book thinking that I would get more details on this insight from Antonelli's description of these "humble masterpieces". The first score or so items are actually very attractively designed, although they have become commonplace and maybe have lost their luster or appeal as a result - the Swiss Army Knife, the ice cream cone, for example. And the stories of how some of these creations came about can be as attractive as their physical design. Unfortunately, the number of common items to which you can apply this criterion should be limited, and this becomes obvious as Antonelli tries to talk up other common items, like Q-tips, coffee cup lids and post-its. I'm sorry, but to some degree we need ugly and mundane things to appreciate the beautiful and the sublime - there is no Beauty without the Beast. By elevating such dull items like the bobby pin and the Chinese food take out container to design masterpiece status, Antonelli levels the playing field to the point of incoherence. Perhaps life is just more interesting to her because of her ability to do so, but for the rest of us, I think the vast majority of the items she portrays will continue to be humdrum and uninspiring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Kimbrough on February 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
My curiosity was piqued by the title of this book. When I opened it up on the left page was a wonderful photo and on the right the "story" behind this object. And too my surprise the first item was a Swiss Army Knife, the same one I having been carrying in my pocket for most of my life. As you go from page to page, you start to realize how many of these items you have used or owned in your life time and begin to appreciate the "wonder" of the design behind them, usefulness and in some cases the "breakthrough" concept someone made to develop it.

As the author states, "If they work well, chances are we won't pay them much attention. However, in spite of modest prices, some of these things are true masterpieces of art & design and deserve our unconditional attention."

This "little" book is well worth the price. I never had the chance to the see this exhibition at the Museum, but I have it in this book.
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