Inga Sempé

Product/Industrial Designer; Lighting Designer / France / Inga Sempé

Inga Sempé’s Book List

I am mainly interested in books for their text. I never buy or read “design” books. Books have always been important to me (although I'm finding less time to read at present).

Almost 95 percent of the books I have read were given to me by my mother. Usually books that have been suggested by others have turned out to be disappointing and heavy. Now I hardly trust people when they say they liked a book. I am becoming more interested in reading autobiographies—to hear the voice of a person talking about his or her life.

4 books
Grisélidis Réal

An autobiographical account of a woman who chose to become a prostitute in Switzerland in the second half of the 20th century. She fought for the rights of sex workers for whom she became a militant leader. In the book she describes her daily work in Geneva and the sexual misery of the men she tried to help, outlining all the squalid aspects of her activity with a precise clear-sightedness. Grisélidis Real offers a very interesting view of a subject that is seldom discussed and far too often obscured by a prevailing Manichean moralism.

Marta Hillers

First published with the author listed as anonymous, this diary describes the life of a young woman in Berlin while it was occupied by the Russians immediately after World War II. What I liked was that her voice sounds so contemporary—I had the feeling I knew her, and that she was of my generation.

Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski’s autobiography, which illuminates the ups and terrible downs he endured throughout his life—from his childhood in the Warsaw ghetto, to his life hidden in the countryside during World War II, up to the 1980s. His strength is impressive. I found especially interesting all the problems he had to work through to produce his movies. This reminds me of the difficulties designers also face in bringing a product into existence. Just like movie directors, we depend on many different people in the design fields, whose aims are not the same as ours.

Pierre Bourdieu
Translated by Richard Nice

In the same vein as Kitsch by Gillo Dorfles, this book contains more sociological explanations about the differences in taste among social classes

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