• Steven Heller

My First Design History Primer

Back in 1970, over a decade before the first edition of Philip B. Meggs’ A History of Graphic Design (1983), Ann Ferebee published the first edition of A History of Design from the Victorian Era to the Present (below). It was my first design history primer and still sits well paged on my shelf.

Forty years later Ferebee with Jeff Byles have authored the second edition, this time in full color.  It covers four additional decades and serves to underscore the developments in the design history movement, which it prefigured. Here is a description:

A unique cross-disciplinary survey of design history, A History of Design from the Victorian Era to the Present offers a concise overview of the modern milestones of architecture, interior design, graphic design, product design, and photography from the Crystal Palace of 1851 to the iPhone at the turn of the twenty-first century. This abundantly illustrated volume traces modern design across continents and cultures, highlighting the key movements and design traditions that have shaped the world around us. From the whirlwind of innovation that gripped Victorian England at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the book details design’s rich evolution through more than a century and a half, including Art Nouveau’s breathtaking ornament, the “new vision” of the Bauhaus, the rise of the International Style, and postmodernism and contemporary currents in the graphic arts and landscape architecture. Major design figures are framed against a background of evolving aesthetic idioms. Especially attuned to how technological innovations catalyzed daringly conceived skyscrapers, bridges, and cantilever chairs, the authors also chart the impact of technical advances in the disciplines of industrial design, typography, and photographic portraiture.

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