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By Cliff Kuang | 11-10-2009 | 2:19 PM
Phaidon's most recent design compendium landed in bookstores with a thud: Spread over three volumes, it's a compendium of 1000 design classics, under three themes: Pioneers, Mass Production, and New Technologies. Drawn from its mammoth, very expensive Design Classics collection, this one is cheaper and smaller--each book comes in at a manageable size of just under 10"x9"; each one costs $40.
Mass Production is dedicated to the period right after WWII, which was marked by industrialized fabrication that gave design objects a greater reach than ever before. Pictured: Bruno Munari's Cubo Ashtray, designed for Danese in 1957 and still in production today.
16 Animali by Enzo Mari, which was a miracle of machined woodwork when it was first unveild in 1957.
Timo Sarpaneva's Cast Iron Pot looks primeval and handsome...
...and the handle detaches to lift the pot lid--thus getting maximum ergonomic use from a single design detail. (Just don't lose the handle.)
One of the most successful packaging designs of all time: Kikkoman's Soy Sauce Bottle, designed by Kenji Ekuan in 1960. It's worldwide spread can hand in hand with that of Chinese restaurants.
The TS 502 Radio by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper.
New Technologies brings us from the 1960s through to the present day--a period marked by the explosion of personal technology.
Ettore Sottsass's masterpiece, the Valentine Typewriter for Olivetti, designed in 1969. Note the picture, which shows the typewriter as a tool for high-powered businessmen--the kind able to afford a plane flight. Typing has changed from a menial function of the typing pool, to a universal business skill--and that heralds the rise of the personal computer.
The Rubik's Cube, from 1974, designed by Hungarian architect Erno Rubik. The design hinges on a central rotary mechanism--Rubi's previous attempts at a system using elastic bands failed. As the book points out, part of the cube's runaway marketing success depended on a Western fetish of Eastern European brainpower--which largely remained mysteriously hidden by the Iron Curtain.
If you've got an iPhone, the ET 44 Calculator by Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs should look familiar. Designed in 1978 at the dawn of the personal computer, it's design was lifted for the iPhone's own calculator. Jonathan Ive, Apple's current chief designer, has consistently raided Rams's genius, to create everything from the iPod to the iMac.
Strap, designed by NL Architects in 2004. Storage doesn't get much more minimal or functional--and yet the product's an icon of lighthearted surprise.
Pioneers focuses on the turning point between the Industrial Age and WWII.
Toblerone's legendary packaging, which has been central to the brand since its introduction in 1908.
Hard to believe that the Ticonderoga pencil was first created in 1913.
Archivio Fondo J. Vodoz and B. DaneseArchivio Fondo J. Vodoz and B. DaneseEnzo Mari e AssociatiEnzo Mari e AssociatiKikkomanBrionvega Archivo Storico OlivettiRubik PR Seven TownsBraunDroog/NL ArchitectsTobleroneDixon Crucible