It’s highly probable that the genius of Dezeen lies in its simplicity — an inspiring jumble of random people, products, and buildings fly by in a constant, daily stream, uncluttered with concept or commentary. For most of us in the design industry, it’s like an IV drip of news and information, easy to process and vital for understanding what’s going on in the world outside our studios. On first glance, Dezeen’s new Book of Ideas, edited by founder Marcus Fairs, could be mistaken for a direct translation of that ethos; a kind of excerpt of the site’s greatest hits, repackaged at print resolution. But while its 116 entries do represent many of the most popular posts since Dezeen launched in 2006, this — as its title makes plain — is a book about ideas, not simply news, which gives it a specific point of view that the site has never really purported to have. Inside, Fairs personally guides readers through the wonders of innovations like a balancing barn, a textile-skinned car, and the first aesthetically pleasing CFL — all of which share an “I wish I’d thought of that” awe factor — meditating on how they’ve impacted design and how websites like his have empowered them do so. We asked Fairs to go one step further for us and identify five of the book’s projects that have made an especially big impression on him. Read his answers here, then follow this link to purchase your own copy.
Pewter Stool by Max Lamb
“I’m fascinated by this object and the narrative attached to it. Max cast the stool directly into the sand on a beach in Cornwall, and if you Google “Pewter Stool Max Lamb,” the first thing that comes up is a bunch of links to the time-lapse movie he made of its fabrication. In other words, the performance that created the stool is better-known that the stool itself. You could argue that the movie of the performance is more interesting than the stool; it has a mystery and a beauty that the object doesn’t have. It’s a powerful media statement rather than a design statement — the movie is a great bit of content, and these days, content rules. In many ways, design and media are merging, and when I make this argument in lectures, Max Lamb’s Pewter Stool is always my Exhibit A.”
Champions by Konstantin Grcic
“Konstantin Grcic is always one step ahead. I’ve been thinking a lot over the last couple of years about how design languages tend to exist in silos: Colors, forms, textures, and patterns that are of the moment in domestic interiors, for example, don’t correlate in any way with those in sports equipment, or airline liveries, or electronic gadgets. I always wondered why and thought it might be a good subject for a book (although not one I’d ever get around to writing). Then earlier this year, Konstantin came up with this range of tables decorated with a graphic language of invented logos and symbols suggestive of ski gear or Formula 1 racing. It’s brilliantly executed and very funny. I can’t wait to see a photo of one of them in a domestic setting — I’d love to see someone try to pull that off.”
Honeycomb Vase by Studio Libertiny
“I saw this vase (or rather an earlier version of it) at the Droog show in Milan in April 2007 and was mezmerised. It’s not often that happens to me; usually I’m pretty unmoved by design and I get very bored traipsing around shows. But this was different: both beautiful and revolutionary. A vase made by bees! Around this time, stories were emerging about the mysterious collapse of bee colonies around the world, and this gave the vase a whole new poignant meaning. There aren’t many non-functional objects I wish I owned, but this is one of them.”
Eiffel DNA by Serero Architects
“The speed of the internet means it’s easy to get things wrong. Over Easter weekend in 2008, I discovered online that the Eiffel Tower was going to be temporarily redesigned. French architects Serero had won a competition to build a structure at its top in celebration of its 120th anniversary. Their proposal, a giant Kevlar viewing platform, looked plausible, especially as it had already appeared in reputable publications including The Guardian in the UK. it did strike me as odd that the Eiffel Tower’s own website made no mention of the competition, but I put this down to the fact that it was a holiday weekend.
“A few days later it became clear that the story was a hoax: The architects had invented both the competition and their victory, and gullible news desks (whose senior staff were no doubt on their Easter holidays) lapped it up. We published a correction but left the post up, as it seemed to me the story had become even better than the reality. I put it in Dezeen Book of Ideas partly because it illustrates the way news works on the internet, but also because — despite being phony — it’s still a great idea.”
Mojito Shoes by Julian Hakes
“Julian Hakes is an architect, but in 2009 he came up with a concept for a pair of shoes without soles. His design, which features a spiral of rigid material that wraps around the foot, bears more relation to structural engineering than to cobbling, and most people in the footwear industry thought it would be unwalkable. Julian emailed me his early renderings of the concept and we published them; within hours they had caused a global sensation online. I kept getting emails from Julian saying that supermodels had phoned up asking for pairs, that he’d been invited to appear on chat shows in the US, that fashion stores had started placing orders. Two years later, the Mojito shoe (so-named because it resembles a spiral of lime peel) is now in production. The story is a testimony to the viral power of blog posts and is just one example of how sites like Dezeen can help designers fast-track their careers — even if, as in Julian’s case, it’s a totally unexpected career direction.”
Click here to read more about or purchase the Dezeen Book of Ideas.