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200 × 120 × 10 mm
128 pages
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, weve 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, Flussers 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, hes made the digital legible in a time when its theorization is occluded and murky to say the least. Like de Koonings famous statement:History does not influence me. I influence it, its taken Flussers 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.

Also available from Reaktion by Vilem Flusser is The Shape of Things: A Philosophy of Design.

Introduction - Martin Pawley
About the Word Design
Form and Material
War and the State of Things
About Forms and Formulae
The Designer's Way of Seeing
The Factory
The Lever Strikes Back
Shelters, Screens and Tents
Design: Obstacle for/to the Removal of Obstacles
Why Do Typewriters Go 'Click'?
The Ethics of Industrial Design?
Design as Theology
Wittgenstein's Architecture
Bare Walls
With As Many Holes As a Swiss Cheese
The Non-Thing 1
The Non-Thing 2
Shamans and Dancers with Masks
The Submarine
Biographical Note