The most famous designs of the twentieth century are not those in museums, but in the marketplace. The Coca-Cola bottle and McDonald's logo are known the world over and may tell us more about our culture than a narrowly-defined canon of classics. One of the world's foremost design historians, Jonathan Woodham takes a fresh look at the wider issues of design and industrial culture throughout Europe, Scandinavia, North America, and the Far East. Drawing on the most up-to-date scholarship, he explores themes such as national identity, the "Americanization" of ideology and business methods, the rise of multi-nationals, Pop and Postmodernism, and contemporary ideas of nostalgia and heritage. Woodham sets the proliferation of everyday design against the writing of critics as diverse as Nikolaus Pevsner, the champion of Modernism, and Vance Packard, author of The Hidden Persuaders. The history which emerges is clearly seen for what it is: the powerful and complex expression of aesthetic, social, economic, political, and technological forces.
One of the first six volumes of the new Oxford series, this is a useful and concise summary of 20th-century design in both the Western industrialized world and the Far East. Woodham (history of design, Univ. of Brighton) freely admits that some influences, such as multiculturalism, perestroika, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, have been omitted in hopes that this will enhance future studies in these areas. The work reads like a global who's who of designers, architects, cultural and national design organizations, and corporate icons. Each of the ten chapters focuses on a component of design, such as modernism, consumerism, reconstruction after World War II, nostalgia and heritage, and social responsibility. The illustrations fit the text and reflect classic design examples. Woodham successfully highlights design as a powerful marketing tool that has captured the international consumer through culture, socioeconomics, politics, and technology. Highly recommended.Stephen Allan Patrick, East Tenn. State Univ. Lib., Johnson City