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Humble Masterpieces: Everyday Marvels of Design Paperback – November 29, 2005
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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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“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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Top customer reviews
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This book is a great light read, An excellent tool for inspiration and well worth the price
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.