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

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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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.
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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 209 pages
  • Publisher: ReganBooks; 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
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #831,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is about simple elegance. 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.

This book is a great light read, An excellent tool for inspiration and well worth the price
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