Julie Lasky

Critic; Writer; Editor / United States / Design Observer

Julie Lasky’s Notable Books of 2011

The design books that interest me most these days play havoc with disciplinary boundaries.

Among my recommended sextet, one pretends to be about industrial design but is an environmentally motivated critique of consumerism. Another purports to be about interior design while appealing to enlightenment values that are too often neglected (along with illustrations from Diderot’s Encyclopedia) in other contemporary books on the subject. A third features the work of a rock star fashion designer who is equally persuasive as a sculptor. A fourth reveals designs for informal communities that are grounded in engineering and technology. A fifth argues for uniting architecture and landscape, disciplines that may abut one another in space but are weirdly disjointed in approach. And the sixth isn’t really about design, it’s about photography. You can draw your own connections.

1 book
Errol Morris

This collection of Morris’s Opinionator columns for the New York Times website is fascinating on multiple levels. Read it for the fresh perspective it offers on the timeless debate over photography’s value as a tool of revelation versus distortion, of consciousness-raising versus manipulation. Or read it to get into the mind of a truth seeker who has no tolerance for intellectual flabbiness or emotion-driven responses. (But don’t hang around there too long. It’s kind of scary.) If nothing else, read this book for Morris’s relentless quest to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding two Roger Fenton photos of a cannonball-littered landscape in the Crimea. You may never again make another easy assumption.

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