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200 × 120 mm
128 pages
Paperback with flaps
01 Oct 1999

The Shape of Things A Philosophy of Design Vilém Flusser

Introduction by Martin Pawley.

This book presents for the first time in English an array of essays on design by the seminal media critic and philosopher Vilém Flusser. It puts forward the view that our future depends on design. In a series of insightful essays on such ordinary ‘things’ as wheels, carpets, pots, umbrellas and tents, Flusser emphasizes the interrelationships between art and science, theology and technology, and archaeology and architecture. Just as formal creativity has produced both weapons of destruction and great works of art, Flusser believed that the shape of things (and the designs behind them) represents both a threat and an opportunity for designers of the future.

‘There is nothing difficult or obscure about these essays. They are as sharp and lucid as precious stones because they proceed not by argument but poetically, by metaphor, story telling and myth.’ – Architects Journal Books of the Year

‘In Flusser, we’ve found our Wittgenstein. By that I mean, in the ways that 1960s conceptual artists found his Philosophical Investigations as granting them the necessary permission to see the world around them with fresh eyes, Flusser’s forays into media have framed, theorized, and unpacked the new complexities of our digital world. By empirically questioning received knowledge and recasting it within crisp lines of history and logic, he’s made the digital legible in a time when its theorization is occluded and murky to say the least. Like de Kooning’s famous statement: ‘History does not influence me. I influence it,’ it’s taken Flusser’s analog-based investigations in the 20th century to show how to be in the digitally soaked 21st.’ – Kenneth Goldsmith, Los Angeles Review of Books

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Vilem Flusser was born in Prague in 1920. After emigrating to Brazil and then to France, he embarked on an influential career as a lecturer and writer on language, design, and communication. He died in 1991.