Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review

The Language of Things
Dejan Sudjic

In The Language of Things, London Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic describes how “we live in a world drowning in objects.” This book provides insights into the role of things in our lives in the face of rampant consumerism and explores how objects shape us as much as we shape them. In an anecdote about his own impulse buy of a shiny new laptop while he was held captive in an airport lounge, Sudjic admits he is simultaneously “fascinated by the glossy sheen of consumption” and “nauseous with self-disgust at the volume of what we all consume.” We use the objects we gather around us to define who we are and who we are not – and design, which has traditionally been understood as a visual language, has become the tool by which those objects are shaped: “The soft touch of fabric, the coldness of metal, the quality of travertine that has been warmed in the sun, the sound of a keyboard in use or a switch operating, or a camera shutter, have also come to take on symbolic qualities which are considered and manipulated as much as any visual signal.” Looking at the realms of design, fashion and art, Sudjic skillfully explores the evolving meaning of luxury and the value we associate with it an age of abundance. As he ponders, “the question that is worth asking is, are these actually inherent qualities, or are their meanings acquired through constant repetition, through familiarity and convention?”

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