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By Design: Why There Are No Locks on the Bathroom Doors in the Hotel Louis XIV and Other Object Lessons

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  13 reviews
An inspiring resource for design students, professionals or anyone else who could benefit from a fuller appreciation of the design process, By Design vividly shows how design affects our most significant human activities. A network of engrossing stories illuminate the process as it applies to industrial design, interior design, fashion design, graphic design and the design ...more
Paperback, 2nd edition, 267 pages
Published August 20th 2004 by Fairchild Books (first published December 31st 1982)
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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  106 ratings  ·  13 reviews

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David Rush
Caplan covers a lot of territory and makes some interesting observations, such as when he takes up what I assume to be a common topic in the design world of how different or alike is design and art.

“Art illuminates experience without asking us to become something other than what we are. The motive of all design is to change lives…even the most prosaic design always aspires to an ideal, while art address itself to actuality” quoting Hilton Kramer on Pg. 121
There is a depressing way to account fo
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must-read for any designer (print, web, industrial, whatever) that thinks he or she has it all figured out. There's a lot of well deserved smack-down for designers in this book. On one end of the spectrum, we have folks who claim to design things when they are only stylizing them; on the other end, we have folks who shed all style in favor of functionality. Both earn well-deserved smacks from Caplan (even Bauhaus designers are smacked around in this book, and yes, they, too, deser ...more
Vlad Golovach
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: Дизайн
Funny and well researched book on design both for designers and non-designers alike. The more you know design and design history, the more you will be appalled by its depth - lots of complex and non-obvious stuff is told in the passing.
I started reading this book to explore my own inclination to find much talk about "design" from "design enthusiasts" as irritating, snobby, and elitist. Isn't everything made by humans designed? If so, what makes an Eames chair any better than any other kind of chair? Aren't all of these things subjective, not objective?

Spoiler: This book did not inspire me to become a design enthusiast, and I still struggle with all of these questions, as well as a few other new ones.

That said, it was a general
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design
Очень специальная книга, сборник статей/эссе на разные темы, попытка понять, что же такое дизайн и где его место в мире.
Anton Shanaurin
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ещё одна из книг, которые я давно хотел прочитать, как, наверное, это видно, основа этого желания лежит в давнишнем увлечением ЖЖ Артемия Лебедева. Тот случай, когда увлечение прошло, а желание, как и интерес к этой области деятельности, не угасли.
Книга отличная, насыщенная не только точными жизненными наблюдениями, но и перспективой. В конце книги автор говорит о том, что все знают, что делать и главный вопрос для него, на который он не знает ответа, это как. Но дело в том, что мне, читателю, н
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and engaging book, one of those rare ones I've read that makes me view the world differently afterward.

In a nutshell, this serves as a great introductory answer to the question "Why does design matter?" I didn't fully grasp why and wasn't that interested in the subject, which is why I especially appreciated the auther's embrace of the idea "a subject important enough to warrant a large book should be introduced by a short one." This is a fairly short book (though that doesn't mean i
Sarthak Pranit
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Seriously! Why isn't this book famous yet? It's a brilliant work for the very thing enthusiastic designers look for - What was the problem and how did one solve it?

By Design is a book that practices humility - something that most designers loose their hold on. After a long time, I finally found a book that preached Dieter Ram's philosophy for good design while balancing Christopher Alexander's idea of honest design. And I truly loved the idea of 'handicapped design' that got coined in this book.
Glen Russell Slater
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ralph Caplan can flat out WRITE. I've read articles of his before, and he has a true talent of making the ordinary seem extraordinary. Caplan could write a book about a turd and make it into a "I couldn't put it down" kind of book. I am not in the least interested in "design" and such; in fact, ordinarily, no subject would bore me more. But Caplan is such a gifted writer with such a great dry sense of humor, I absolutely loved the book.
Jan 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: design, non-fiction
I attempted to read this book and stopped because it seemed to filled with incoherent ranting. I may have been distracted when reading it though, so I'll give it another shot in the future. For now though, I have to give it 1 Star.
Evgenia Pradel
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: design
there are some good ideas but a lot of blabla as well
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Ralph Caplan is a contributing editor at Print magazine, a regular contributor to VOICE: The AIGA Online Journal of Graphic Design and has written articles for Design Quarterly, Interior Design, The New York Times, and House and Garden. He began his long and distinguished career in design journalism in the late 1950's as editor-in-chief at I.D. Magazine. His books include By Design: Why There Are ...more
“The prospect of physical discomfort has not deterred anyone from buying, or sitting in, chairs that hurt. A painful chair, however, is more willingly bought and endured if it carries the imprimatur of a museum or some other respectable design authenticator. Randall Jarrell noted, with great wit but no exaggeration, that there are people who "...will sit on a porcupine if you first exhibit it at the Museum of Modern Art and say that it is a chair. In fact, there is nothing, nothing in the whole world that someone won't buy and sit in if you tell him that it is a chair...” 1 likes
“A long time ago Lewis Mumford wrote that "in a society that knows no other ideals, spending becomes the chief source of delight; finally it amounts to a social duty." What an outrageous exaggeration that must have seemed to those at whom it was aimed. Yet today you can hardly pick up a business magazine without finding similar statements never intended to be pejorative. As the photographic historian Judith Mara Gutman says, in a book called Buying,, "the whole process of buying ...determines our daily pace, dictates our nightly rhythm...Buying structures our lives.” 0 likes
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