Wry Humor, Good Design: designPOP

The cover says it all.

Padded, neon pink and vinyl-covered, its title – designPOP – is de-bossed.

There’s a wry sense of humor at work here, and more of that to come inside.

“The whole idea of humor and of simplifying design is to bridge an industry that’s often complicated for the average person,” says Lisa Roberts, author of the new book, due out from Rizzoli tomorrow. “It’s to help readers understand, and to make it clear for people not in the industry.”

She learned about humor in design from her television producer for her 2011 docu-series, My Design Life, a show that followed her around as she visited museums, exhibits, trade fairs, and design stores.

“My producer said: ‘Entertain first, and educate second,” she says.

And so she has in the new book, using her own wit and insight to explain why a particular design is good and why we should pay attention to it. Among the items featured are a bladeless fan by James Dyson, an iPhone from Apple and a pill bottle designed for Target. The idea is to show how game-changing designs are popping up everywhere – using works by Gehry, Starck and the Campana brothers, among others, as examples.

Roberts started out in the 1980s as an architect, shifting gears in a recession to product and graphic design. “I capitalized on my architectural training when Graves and Meier and Starck were starting to design household objects,” she says. “I witnessed an explosion of new designs in the marketplace.”

She began to design products for the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney, then wrote a book called Antiques of the Future. The television series followed, and from that comes the new book, which intends to opens up the conversation between art, design and craft.

“Sometimes these conversations get heated because the boundaries are disappearing,” she says.

And designPOP’s cover is a walking, talking example of that.

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All images (c) DesignPOP, Rizzoli 2014