A stupefying collection of design from the patchwork of Northern European nation states vaguely known as “Scandinavia,” Scandinavian Design is both eye candy and an education.
Through 700+ biography-driven illustrated pages we’re led from the decorative to the industrial, from the design we live with every day and rarely consider, to the pieces we covet, and to the innovations that never made it past their prototype.
When we think of Scandinavian Design we tend to think mid-century – the sexy bent wood furniture of Alvar Aalto, the smooth forms of Dansk, the irresistibly groovy world of Verner Panton – and while the book does give ample space to the iconic, we’re reminded that Scandinavian design doesn’t begin and end mid-twentieth century. The authors cover every significant Northern European design influence over the past 100+ years, from the arcane to the ordinary, from slippers to Saabs, while providing an important and intriguing contextual relationship that allows for a more meaningful understanding of the influences and evolution that informs one design development to another. And because there are never more than two or three pages devoted to any one designer or design house, you can jump in anywhere and get a design fix on the fly.
Highlighting the modern while encouraging us to contemplate the simple, functional, everyday beauty that is Fiskars scissors, Electrolux vacuums, Legos, or a set of stacking spouted melamine mixing bowls by Rosti, there are surprises here of all stripes – like the design of early mobile phones and Hasselblad cameras, to ambitious efforts like Timo Salli’s Jack-in-the-Box television.
Warning: May induce design fatigue even among die-hards, but every time you pick up this volume you’ll discover something new.
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Over the past decade or so, Lauren McLaughin (previously) has written a handful of outstanding YA novels, each dealing with difficult issues of gender, personal autonomy and the casual cruelty of teens, starting with Cycler (and its sequel, Re-Cycler) (a teenaged girl who turned into a boy for four days every month); Scored (a class-conscious surveillance dystopia); The Free (a desperate novel about a teen car-thief in juvie) and now, her best book yet: Send Pics, a gripping thriller about sextortion, high school, revenge and justice.
Wendy Liu grew up deeply enmeshed in technology, writing code for free/open source projects and devouring books by tech luminaries extolling the virtues of running tech startups; after turning down a job offer from Google, Liu helped found an ad-tech company and moved from Montreal to New York City to take her startup to an incubator. As she worked herself into exhaustion to build her product, she had a conversion experience, realizing that she was devoting her life to using tech to extract wealth and agency from others, rather than empowering them. This kicked off a journey that Liu documents in her new book, Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism, a memoir manifesto that's not just charming -- it's inspiring.
Matt Ruff is one of science fiction and fantasy's most consistently brilliant and innovative authors, whose recent work includes The Mirage (an incredible alternate history in which the Global War on Terror is kicked off when Christian crusaders from the blighted, tribal USA fly a plane into the United States of Arabia's Twin Towers in Dubai, giving the hawkish CIA chief Osama bin Laden the chance to launch the all-out war he's been champing for), and Lovecraft Country (an anti-racist reimagining of Cthulhu set in Jim Crow America where the real horror is white supremacy -- now being adapted for TV by Jordan Peele). In his new novel, 88 Names, Ruff adds to the canon of MMORPG heist novels (Charlie Stross's Rule 34, Neal Stephenson's Reamde, and my For the Win, to name three) with a unique take that he dubbed "Snow Crash meets The King and I."
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