Book List of the Week

Ultimately for People: Sam Hecht’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter May 29, 2012

Sam Hecht

Product designer Sam Hecht: Industrial Facility (London)

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“I believe that too many designers have lost the ability to realize that projects are ultimately for people—not the company,” states London-based product designer Sam Hecht in a comment on The World as Design, which is on the book list he recently sent Designers & Books. Hecht’s own work, covering kitchenware for Whirlpool, furniture for Herman Miller and Yamaha, and numerous products like appliances and tableware for Muji, is known for its clarity and is definitely “for people” and the lives they live. Design is important, Hecht says, “as a means of simplifying our lives in an inspirational way.”*

The books on Hecht’s carefully edited list echo these ideals of simplicity and focus. Several, he notes, he has reread—two of them (including Peter Zumthor’s Thinking Architecture) four times. Reading Enzo Mari, a book in Hans Ulrich Obrist’s “Conversations” series, is rewarding in unexpected ways, but “you need to give it time.” While the Italian designer Mari “comes across as very hard and uncompromising, I believe he is very playful in his mind.” Another book on Hecht’s list, The Art of Papercraft, by Muji founder Ikko Tanaka, impresses because of its “presentation and simplicity.”

Usefulness in Small Things: Items from the Under a Fiver Collection by Kim Colin and Sam Hecht, 2011 (Rizzoli International Publications)

Hecht, with Kim Colin, his partner in the design firm Industrial Facility, is the author of Usefulness in Small Things: Items from the Under a Fiver Collection (2011, Rizzoli International Publications). The book showcases a collection Hecht assembled of everyday mass-produced items—such as nails, plugs, toothbrushes, soap, and gloves—from around the world, each item costing under five British pounds. The collection, shown at London’s Design Museum, reveals how things are made and how they are sensitive to the tasks people carry out. Usefulness in Small Things is “full of inspiration not only in the context of design but also as a work of cultural anthropology,” says Daijiro Mizuno, who named it a Designers & Books Notable Book of 2011.

*Quoted in Sam Hecht’s Profile

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