The success of the design process cannot be reduced to academic instruction, orthodoxy or algorithms. Rather, it is a messy business: involving people, ideas, capital, the market, resources and social dynamics. Form does not follow function. Form has to deal with the world.
Four Objects of Design is an exploration of the important interaction between design and the social realm. From the Valentine typewriter of the 1970s, designed by Ettore Sottsass and produced by the iconic Italian company Olivetti, through to the creation of Tupperware, with its success built more upon the social worlds of women than it being a design icon, to Massimo Vignelli’s subway map and the reception it received by the inhabitants of New York when they had to try and make sense of it, and finally Comic Sans, a typeface that is both loved and loathed, Four Objects of Design: An Exploration of Design & Social Interaction demonstrates that the success or failure of a designed object does not rest with its function and form alone.
Edited by Sophie Jung, with essays by Veronika Steininger, Daniela Baumann and Till A. Heilmann, along with Alison J. Clarke in interview, what is realised is the relative successes and failures of the objects examined in this book, from the fields of industrial design, communication design and from information technology, were a result of the interplay between their design and the people that engaged with it. The designed object does not live in a vacuum. It must deal with, as Daniela Baumann puts it, “the frequently very different expectations of designers and consumers.”