March 1, 2010
New and notable books on architecture, culture, and design.
Architecture of Change 2: Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment
EDITED BY Kristin and Lukas Feireiss
DESIGNED BY Bureau Mario Lombardo
Gestalten, 240 pp., $65
The editors have gathered together an impressive variety of architectural and landscape projects, representing an international collection of best practices. The projects and images are well curated, the scales are diverse, and the text for the most part is clear and concise—no easy feat given the complex nature of the technologies and building systems described. To broaden the cultural sweep, the Feireisses intersperse project descriptions with interviews featuring the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk and Chris Luebkeman, Arup’s director for global foresight and innovation. Unfortunately, these sections prove difficult to read, due to poor page-color and type choices.
Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams
BY Keiko Ueki-Polet and Klaus Klemp
DESIGNED BY Tamotsu Shimada
Gestalten, 808 pp., $78
The title seems especially fitting for this latest release of the book, which is in wider distribution and costs almost $25 less than the version originally published by the Suntory Museum of Art, in Tokyo. Otherwise, little has changed; there are stunning photos, clean design, and meaty essays—only the Japanese text on the left pages has been replaced with German. (The right side remains in English.) There’s still no word on whether the exhibition, currently showing at Lon-don’s Design Museum, will make it to the United States, but the book is a more than reasonable stopgap measure.
Design Ecologies: Essays on the Nature of Design
EDITED BY Lisa Tilder and Beth Blostein
DESIGNED BY Paul Wagner and Bree Anne Apperley
Princeton Architectural Press, 256 pp., $35
This series of short essays by architects, graphic designers, and critics treats artificial ecology as an unexplored and undefined subject, which, in many ways, it is. The essayists cover a lot of ground, from the specific (Work AC’s Public Farm 1 project) to the general (a short history of “open source”), but what emerges is an expansive definition of building ecology as the integration of nature into existing architecture and urban design. The stress here is on the big picture: questions of infrastructure and societal norms or, as one writer puts it, “ecological innovation as a civic action.”
Design Studies: A Reader
EDITED BY Hazel Clark and David Brody
DESIGNED BY William Joseph
Berg Publishers, 572 pp., $39.95
Starting with turn-of-the-century British printmaking and progressing through Taylorism and text messages, Design Studies covers just about everything that could fit into a semester of design theory. There’s not too much depth here, but it’s enough that you’ll get more than a superficial grasp of the subject. The book features essays and excerpts by everyone from Karl Marx to William McDonough (and Metropolis’s own Susan S. Szenasy), grouped into seven sections, including chapters on labor, globalization in design, and new technologies.