Wayback Books and a Jewel

September 3, 2010 § 6 Comments

As I mentioned yesterday I sought out the book “Design for the Real World,” authored by Victor Papanek. While I was at the handsome IUPUI library I paged through a few other design books and picked up what appeared to be another classic (my clue: at least 7 copies of the same aged book on the shelf), “What is a Designer,” by Norman Potter. My designerly intuition thought that a good place to continue my design thesis research was at the dawn of modern design writing.

Later in the evening I found a comfy chair and ended up spending nearly four hours scanning and reading, reading and scanning, Papanek’s, what turns out to be, timeless “alternative” essays on the roles, failures and successes of design and designers in the world. Considering that many of Papanek’s views would probably be considered extreme today I can only imagine how this blew people’s minds in the early ’70s when it was released. Papanek himself states, in the revised second edition in my possession, that the first edition was “derided, made fun of, (and) savagely attacked,” with one review referring to it as an “idiosyncratic pipe dream.” Regardless of those comments the book became one of the top selling design books of all time. What blows my mind is that even with it’s wide readership many of the same problems that Papank outlined still exist to this day. « Read the rest of this entry »

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