Book List of the Week

Consuming Design: Stefano Giovannoni’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter December 13, 2012

Stefano Giovannoni

Product/industrial designer Stefano Giovannoni: Giovannoni Design (Milan)

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On industrial designer Stefano Giovannoni’s book list for Designers & Books are five titles by the French philosopher, sociologist, and cultural commentator Jean Baudrillard. Why? Giovannoni thinks it’s very important for a designer “to open one’s vision to the philosophical and sociological aspects related to the evolution of our society.” “I’ve never found a design book deep enough for a broad vision of our profession,” he says in the introduction to his book list.

So, along with Baudrillard’s famous early work The System of Objects (also on the book list of architect Neil Denari), we find The Consumer Society, The Ecstasy of Communication, The Disappearance of Art, and Il Sogno della Merce (The Dream of Goods), in which, Giovannoni says, “Baudrillard analyzes the concept of ‘merchandise’ . . . as a crucial issue of consumer society. This book has been central to my design approach and the most important for my background.”

Baudrillardian thinking carries through to a comment Giovannoni makes about another more recent book on his list, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat (2005), which examines the effects of globalization on the world economy at the beginning of the 21st century. The book prompts the designer to observe: “We can visualize and communicate in real time with anyone all over the world, making a reality what Baudrillard had imagined and defined 20 years earlier as ‘the ecstasy of communication.’”

Stefano Giovannoni, Lilliput salt and pepper shakers for Alessi, 1993

With this background the Milan-based Giovannoni, who was trained as an architect, has created internationally award-winning and highly successful furnishings and home accessories in metals and colorful transparent plastics, recognized for their expressive and narrative qualities, for a range of companies. Notably, these clients include Alessi, for which Giovannoni has produced, among other designs, the series “Girotondo,” “Family Follows Fiction,” and the recent “Orientales.”

Inspired by works in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, “Orientales” is also the subject of a book of the same name published in 2008 and featuring texts by Giovannoni, Alberto Alessi, Li Mun-Lee, and Alessandro Mendini.


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