Monday, 2 December 2013

History Of Design

History Of Design
History Of Design: Decorative Arts & Material Culture 1400-2000, edited by Pat Kirkham and Susan Weber, is an international history of the decorative arts, organised chronologically and geographically, with individual chapters on each continent. The book itself is superbly designed, and illustrated with more than 700 large and carefully-selected photographs.

The scope of the book is unprecedented: it's a definitive global survey of the decorative arts. The co-editors both explain that it was intended as the first comprehensive history: Kirkham laments the "lack of a broadly based "textbook" or "survey book" on the model of those in other educational fields", and Weber cites "Janson's History of Art" as an inspiration. Given its worldwide coverage, John Fleming and Hugh Honour's A World History Of Art might be an even better comparison.

Fleming and Honour's Dictionary Of Decorative Arts is equally extensive, though it hasn't been updated since 1989, and it has an encyclopedic structure rather than a chronological narrative. David Raizman's History Of Modern Design is slightly less comprehensive: it covers America, Europe, and Japan from the 18th century onwards. Judith Miller's Decorative Arts is a buyer's guide rather than a historical survey. Owen Jones's The Grammar Of Ornament and Stuart Durant's Ornament cover the history of, respectively, pre- and post-industrial ornamentation. Decorative Arts, Taschen's reprint of Carl Becker's Kunstewerke & Gerathschaften, illustrates decorative objects from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

History Of Design is the most wide-ranging survey in its field, though there are other histories of individual disciplines within the applied arts. These include 5,000 Years Of Glass and 7,000 Years Of Jewellery by Hugh Tait, 5,000 Years Of Textiles by Jennifer Harris, 5,000 Years Of Tiles by Hans van Lemmen, Tiles: A General History by Anne Berendsen, 10,000 Years Of Pottery by Emmanuel Cooper, The Book Of Pottery & Porcelain by Warren E Cox, Porcelain and Glass by Edward Dillon, A History Of Tapestry by WG Thomson, Tapestry by Barty Phillips, A History Of Interior Design by John Pile, World Furniture by Helena Hayward, The Papered Wall by Lesley Hoskins, Jewellery by H Clifford Smith, The Worldwide History Of Beads by Lois Sherr Dubin, A History Of Industrial Design by Edward Lucie-Smith, and A History Of Graphic Design by Philip B Meggs.

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