international newport group latest reviews, Where Design Meets Life by Alice Rawsthorn
Victor Papanek argued that all men are designers. None perhaps more effective than the early 18th-century pirate Edward Teach, the formidable Blackbeard. Teach's reputation as an indomitable pirate relied on the visual persona he created. Not just the beard itself but the whole ensemble of heavy coat, big boots and huge dramatic hat with lighted matches sputtering beneath the rim struck such terror in his victims that resistance fell away. He had no need of a degree in graphics to realise the long distance effect on those who saw the Jolly Roger. This kind of basic human instinct for designing is one of the main themes of Alice Rawsthorn's lively and stimulating book. This is a welcome publication for many reasons. First, deluged as we are with ever more enormous books on architecture, there are very few intelligent books about design. In this area Stephen Bayley was the pioneer, with a constant stream of witty, erudite and challenging writings on design from the 1980s onwards. More recently, in 2008, Deyan Sudjic entered the arena with The Language of Things. Rawsthorn's approach is different, more socially concerned, wider ranging in her interests and, yes, more feminine. It was Rawsthorn, don't forget, who created such a storm during her years as director of the Design Museum by promoting an exhibition on the flower decorator Constance Spry.