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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 12 January 2015
What a crazy but brilliant idea.

If, like me, you often wonder what components are inside things, this book could be for you. Whenever I dump something I often can't resist trying to dismantling it - not usually an easy task. So I admire the care and tenacity that must have gone into the photographs in this book.

The book does not set out to explain how things work, which could disappoint some people; but this is missing the point. These photographs of components are minor works of art to enjoy.
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A fascinating look at just what is inside everyday objects and what surprised me was just how many bits there are when they carefully laid out and photographed from above in one of Todd McLellan's shots. A nice touch was keeping a running total of all the pieces: a 1982 Walkman has 370; 2007 Blackberry 120; 1960 blender 147; 1970 sewing machine 482; 1980 bike 893. Oddly cameras seem to have a very similar number of components: 1973 SLR has 576; 2012 digital SLR 580; 2005 digital video camera 558. Admittedly all these totals do include every nut, screw, washer and bolt. Most of the products were hand-holdable except for three, a bike, piano and a Zenith two-seater light aircraft (the CH-650 with 7580 pieces) this was photographed in the company hangar and shown over three pages with a fold-out.

Take the book apart and you'll find it's in three sections. First the fifty products were disassembled and laid out in a precise and formal way, photographed and then a second shot taken with strobe lighting as all the pieces were dropped from a platform in the studio to create a free-fall photo of parts and the complete opposite of the other photo. Actually McLellan says he had more success creating these second images by dropping them in groups and using software to combine the photos. The third part of the book and the weakest in my view, are four essays looking at tech innovation, restoration, online repairs and product disassembly.

These short essays are interesting enough but I thought they were rather out of place in a strongly visual book of products in pieces. They really should have had some photos, too. Penny Bendall, a ceramics conservator, discusses how she repairs broken ceramics: a valuable antique vase or figurines. Gever Tulley, founder of the Tinkering School, talks about his summer camps where kids can learn how to use power tools and make things from scrap. Neither of these two essays had pictures of the things discussed.

This one of those wonderful books that can be opened at any page and you'll be immediately grabbed by stunning photos of hundreds of small items laid out with geometric precision or the same pieces floating in a spatial montage. I think the idea is good enough for second book (though without essays).

***LOOK AT SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
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on 10 May 2015
For anyone interested in design or just neatness in general, Things Come Apart will be a dream come true. It's very much a paper version of iFixit (a website which breaks down Apple products and other gadgets into component parts). It's endlessly interesting to see just how much goes into one product, and the chaos that ensues when you lay all of the components out. I must admit that I haven't read the three enclosed essays because the images are just too gripping. For me, the 1980 bike, with 893 pieces, is one of the most visually stunning: you'll marvel at the two-page spread for days to come.
The only note of caution is the quality of the book itself: the binding is not particularly glamorous, and the pages don't have a luxurious gloss. I feel that at this price and, considering this is a book aimed at the aesthetically-concerned, this is somewhat disappointing.
However, this is a spectacular new perspective on everyday objects.
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on 28 October 2013
Amazing to see all the innards of contemporary equipment laid out and photographed. How does anyone figure all this out and make them in the first place? No wonder ordinary folk like me could hardly consider mending new items.
Very interesting articles interspersed with the photographs that consider the issues around making modern equipment that could make them more recyclable. It's not just a collection of pictures; interesting as they are on their own, the words that accompany them are worth reading on their own.
Summing up, if you ever found yourself dismantling kit to find out how it worked you'll love this.
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on 8 July 2013
Fascinating. Excellent publication for anyone interested in how things work, symmetry, arrangement, visual order, complexity, and the underbelly of technology.
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on 28 June 2014
bought it as a present after seeing at the book store in selfridge's. recipient loves it.

very interesting book even if you are not a geek. pictures are amazing and you could look at them forever. good size for a coffee table book, although maybe on the slim side if you ask me. but such a creative book.
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on 27 December 2014
I was blown away by the size of the book aside from its printed quality, certainly making the book a far more immersive experience with all small details of the pictures visible. A must buy, seriously great! I would love to see the series developed further.
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on 5 March 2014
this is a large and beautifully created book. it is amazing how taking a product apart can be turned into an art form. the large pull out sections really highlight the complexity of some of the products studied.
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on 12 November 2016
Bought this for dad for Christmas. Showed my wife yesterday and we both agreed the concept and the photos are lovely however she did point out that there's no writing in it - it took us 5 mins to go through the entire book. I'm not sure you could spend much longer on it...
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on 25 December 2016
Stunning, beautiful, original, creative. It makes you marvel, and then makes you think. A perfect gift for anyone: to look inside everyday things and reflect on what we actually surround ourselves with.
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