Did you know that Salvador Dali designed the logo and packaging for the Chupa Chups lollipop? Or that a boomerang’s local name is a ‘kylie’? Or that Rubik’s Cube was invented by interior designer Ernö Rubik? And that the Frisbee got its name from a pie-dish embossed with logo of Mr Frisbie the baker, which was flung around the playing fields of Yale? Curator of Architecture and Design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Paolo Antonelli, has transformed a popular exhibition into an entertaining and enlightening book, Humble Masterpiece, that not only offers up masses of trainspotting trivia, but also highlights the achievements of designers, engineers, mad inventors and wild entrepreneurs who have brought us numerous everyday objects that we simply can’t live without.
My favourites are the new ‘object types’, from Tetra Briks to Oxo Good Grips, Lego to Maglites. Others have been around since early history – chopsticks, dice, pasta – while others result from technological wizardry, such as LEDs, transistors and batteries. Plus there are things here that I’ve never seen, but that reveal Antonelli’s New York City lifestyle, where everything is at hand, be it the Kikkerland Staple-less Stapler or the beautifully sculptural Kadokeshi Plastic Eraser. Despite a US-slant, that a European reader might not appreciate, this is a handy primer, and an informed comment on the world of designed objects.
Humble Masterpieces, 100 Everyday Marvels of Design by Paola Antonelli is published by Thames and Hudson, price £12.95
By Liz Farrelly