Design of the 20th Century is one of those books that ought to be on the shelves of every designer, design student, teacher, historian, enthusiast or newbie. Hefty and sweeping yet affordable and compact, this veritable Bible that covers design from the past hundred years is, at the very least, 750 pages of pure eye candy. At its best it's an approachable wealth of information that "highlights the pluralistic nature of design and the idea that, historically, design can be viewed as a debate between conflicting opinions about such issues as the role of technology and the industrial process, the primacy of utility, simplicity and affordability over luxury and exclusivity, and the role of function, aesthetics, ornament and symbolism in practical objects for use."
Written by Charlotte and Peter Fiell, who've penned several of Taschen's comprehensive design tomes (including 1000 Chairs, Industrial Design A-Z, Graphic Design for the 21st Century), define design "in its most global sense as the conception and planning of all man-made products." With that in mind the duo takes the reader through the entire 20th century from Aalto to Zsolnay, a journey that includes design movements like Art Deco, Arts & Craft and the International Style as well as profiles on the most significant designers in every field, from furniture and lighting to typography and graphic design. Design of the 20th Century is an accessible introduction to design for newcomers as well as an indispensable desk reference for design professionals. Even veterans in the field who think they've learned it all in school and seen it all over the course of their careers will enjoy rediscovering old favorites and perhaps even stumbling upon something new.
Design of the 20th Century is available from Taschen for $19.99.
Vico Magistretti's Atoll lamp
Marcel Breuer's cantilevered wicker and wood chair
Wolfgang Tumpel's Teamaker
Eric Gill's study for Gill Sans
Ben Bowden's Bicycle of the Future
Erich Dieckmann's Drawings of Chair Profiles
Michele De Lucchi's Siner Pica lamp