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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 5 November 2011
After attending a lecture by Deyan Sudjic, I was interested in reading his book - The Language of Things.
Although Design is becoming an increasingly complex discipline to define, Deyan Sudjic not only introduces it in the context of the modern world and how it has evolved, but also discusses the emotive and practical overlap between design and its reluctant neighbours, fashion, art and luxury culture.
This book provides a broad contextual and historical overview with text peppered with fascinating and well observed specific examples.
This is an enjoyable, informative and thought provoking read - a must for anyone with an interest in Design and how it relates to Culture.
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on 9 November 2009
Deyan Sudjic can write! It's about design and yet it is written in an such an easy-to-read and inviting way that makes it unputdownable. Very well worth your time to read it.
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The Language of Things - Deyan Sudjic - Kindle Version

Most people don’t think about design, but Deyan Sudjic does. He probably thinks about design enough for the rest of us not to need to bother. He is a one man design book writing machine. I’ve read a few of his books, with their chatty insiders view of design and architecture, in his book on the architects of fantastical blobby buildings, Future Systems, he mentioned in passing that he had lived in one of their creations.

If you prefer a dry academic tone then this is probably not for you, his lengthy account of buying a new apple laptop at an airport will have you throwing away the book in frustration. However there is a real depth of knowledge and understanding on display, worrying away at vexed issues. Although he touches upon familiar items, the Thonet chair, Ives and Dieter Rams, he does so with insight and with something new to say about them.

The Kindle version has some black and white images throughout, the design is fairly standard, though the index with links to the relevant pages is a nice touch.

If you are looking for a primer on design issues then Hello World, by Alice Rawsthorn is probably a better bet, but if you are into design then this book is a real gossipy opinionated treat.

My main criticism would be that I am not sure it is really a book, it is more like a splendidly entertaining magazine column brought together in book format. It rather fizzles out at the end, but the Sudjic writing machine keeps rolling on, and for his fans, there is plenty more out there to read.
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on 5 August 2012
In five chapters -- language, design and its archetypes, luxury, fashion, art -- Deyan Sudjic provides a interesting view on design, beyond mere function, usability, aesthetics and commerce, in which objects are seen as carriers of meaning.

More an essay than an academic work, the first two chapters will be a feast of recognition for many designers. These chapters nicely describe meaning creation in a manner tacitly known by the design community but which is hard to find summarized in written format. The remaining three chapters dive into newer and more difficult territories: luxury in an age of perfected mass production, fashion as a driver of built-in obsolescence and continuous cultural change, and value creation in high design. In these chapters, Sudjic offers many intriguing arguments, accompanied by interesting examples.

Unfortunately, the author's writing is not entirely convincing, making a 'stream of consciousness' impression. Sudjic's argumentation sometimes wavers and its red thread is not always obvious. Subjects are often left behind with the same abruptness that they are dropped onto the reader. The author's decision to dispense with subchapters, sections or any other way to structure his reasoning certainly does not help and makes it difficult to retrace the steps in his argumentation. Though an essay on meaning creation can naturally be expected to take a post-modern approach, I found the chapter endings a little too fluffy and the take-away of each chapter unclear. The relationships between the chapters also remain vague.

Whilst I had expected the author to tie the constituent chapters together in the epilogue, Sudjic instead focuses on the impact of the economic crisis. Surprisingly he does this in an almost apologetic manner: "After excess comes sobriety". This is a rather unexpected turn of events as in the preceeding 190 pages the author does not touch anywhere upon meaning creation in relationship to back-to-basics design approaches, let alone sustainability. Though this did not feel like a glaring omission at any point whilst reading the book, the epilogue suddenly draws attention to it and unnecessarily causes meaning creation to be associated with glitzy superficiality, undoubtedly the exact opposite of what the author intended.

Sudjic may not be Roland Barthes (Mythologies (Vintage Classics)), Penny Sparke (Design & Culture), Adrian Forty (Objects of Desire: Design and Society Since 1750) or Peter-Paul Verbeek (What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design), yet this book still forms a nice, light-hearted complement to the existing literature on semiotics and design history. 'The Language of Things' should be compulsory reading for first year design students for its ability to popularize semiotics and to illustrate how design is about so much more than just aesthetics, engineering and business economics.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 July 2012
Deyan Sudjic managed to produce a very readable, well argued and interesting essay on the role of design in our consumer society, as well as on the evolution of it, which brought us to where we are today.

After a brief but truly intriguing introduction titled 'A World Drowning in Objects' he goes on deconstructing design, its influence and evolution through language, design archetypes, luxury, fashion and art. The sample objects used to demonstrate his points range from furniture, architecture, pocket calculators, cars, lamps, handguns to fashion items and modern art.

The book does a very credible job of summarizing the topic, even if it in my opinion does not quite fulfill the promise implicit in its introduction. Still, Sudjic writes compellingly and is certainly a knowledgeable observer, making this a recommended read for anyone interested in design in the 20th century.
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on 10 August 2009
I initially bought this book on a bit of a whim for the strange, yet highly interesting and appropriate (to design) content, and, I had seen it featured on the design studio, 'Yes' website, where it had sparked an interest as a rather important and luxurious object.

I am a Graphic Design graduate, and although it doesn't necessarily cover the ground that I'd be used to, covers a lot of design territory and artefacts, with an interesting perspective on the history and avenues in other areas of art and design.

Sudjic, writes from with an enjoyable wit and good values, sparing the academic jargon usually associated with such texts, opening it up to a broad audience, yet it maintains a lot fascinating knowledge that makes it so enjoyable.

Do it, do it now.
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on 23 February 2013
I'm a designer, and this is amongst the best reads I've had on the subject. The writing is succinct, lucid and simple enough to be understood by anyone passionate on the subject, and it's more about the objects that we use everyday than academic critique. I also felt that it's personal at some level; the very first chapter begins with a personal experience of Mr. Sudjic and often in the book, we are introduced to his world at appropriate junctures. I highly recommend this.
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on 20 December 2013
since aquiring this book, i have been flicking through it at every given moment for simple refferences to all things in the Art and Design field. i travel with this book to uni as it's a great source of ideas from some truly inspiring people and Artists in the general sense.
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on 3 April 2009
"The Language Of Things" defines a new and coherent language for design.
Industrial design has sub "text" that Sudjic exposes.
The language that designers speak, or in most cases don't speak but should- is clarified.
A must for working designers.
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A great read. An amusing, insightful and highly reflective discourse with our consumerist society/culture
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