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Back of the book index

  • Summative text demonstrates the designers standing within the design world
  • Touches on his most recognised accomplishments
  • Narrative style sets the tone for the book
  • Firstly writers demonstrate their analysis of design theories in relation to his methods of design as a retrospective narrative to begin the book
  • Each passage is a concise opinionated thesis on a relevant element within his designs
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  • Introductory text sets the tone for 20th century design
  • Demonstrating the century as a “period of discoveries, inventions and renewal”
  • Developments within technology have initiated the progression of material use and production methods.
  • Text goes on to express a need for products to surpass the tests of time
  • Constant need for new developments means new products are constantly replaced creating an unstoppable production line of new design.

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  • Engagement between designers and contemporary attitudes towards design creates  need for new intriguing products,  pushing the boundaries of the possible.
  •  Design engagement with the product as opposed to realistic necessity has become a minority.
  • Directed by aesthetic appeal and financial aspects, design is now further being tailored to the consumers needs rather than an individualistic representation of form.
  •  Text further mentions how a designers duty is not to just produce yet another product, but to benefit areas of social need through ingenuity and solving problems.
  •  Lifespan of design taken into consideration, now a designers duty to engage their designs as they age , through this process the product gains meaning and cultural quality.
  • Through this initiative the eventual outcome is to not create superficial streams of meaningless product, but to redirect a perspective towards sustainable design that withstands the tests of time.

New attitudes to Nature and Technology

  • Symbiotic relationship between “technology and nature”
  •  Technology has developed a newer spectrum of possibilities with infinite results towards the future
  • Nature however has surpassed the tests of time continually resonating its innate advances
  •  Extract demonstrates the importance of the development of the two as harmonious tools for design developmentWP_20160316_21_09_28_Pro
  • Driven by “a number of questions I couldn’t answer and dreams i wanted to make real”
  • To continue a belief within design questions needed to be answered to make new discoveries
  • Considering ecological issues Marcel contemplates how each design will be of worth to society, creating useful products that stay useful
  • He reiterates the importance of not contributing further to the throwaway culture with an emphasis on the renewal of design
  • Visions of products connecting with their consumers through significance or importance
  • “In short: products worth bonding with for a life time” a quote that’s resonated the most, echoing the importance of design with a purpose and the designers prerogative to investigate and recreate renewable products to stand the test of time.
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“Nothing has meaning but the meaning you give it” Marcel Wanders

  • Demonstrating how he perceives the world in relation to meaning
  • Drawing from experiences as influential discoveries
  • “I can only change my world by renewing my thoughts, by casting doubt on certainties, by mobilising what is static and by asking myself what all the things around me really mean” – reiterating the need to constantly question as a way of evolving
  • Personal choice to perceive the world however you choose gives individuals the opportunity to give meaning to certain aspects of their surroundings, dependent on the individual
  • “Designers specialise in renewing the meaning of everything around them” – the renewal of ideas and concepts creates the constant flow of newly developed products, giving meaning to otherwise meaningless design
  • To create a meaning for something is to create a functional aspect, a relate-able understanding between designer and user, this element within design forms the relationship between product and consumer


  • Attitudes towards durable design
  • How the product will age and how the product effects its environment
  • Opinions towards the old and new divide within design
  • 20th century design being fixated around sleek modernised forms that no longer resemble any characterful quality
  • Explains design as a progression of the latest development, reiterating the fixation about new products resembling a newer aesthetic


  • Example demonstrates this”new” aesthetic that’s intrusive to its surroundings
  • “Baby-face fixation” encompasses the renewal of new structures and their inability to age gracefully
  • Designed to cater to the need for new, rather than considering how the design will contribute once its aged
  • The need to look back as well as forward to consider how consumers will bond with these products given their short life expectancy
  • A designers aim is to create a product for life, not to just add to the ever growing stream
  • Reiterating the need for durable design to create lasting relationships between product and user


  • Attitude towards archetypes as an influential aspect to design
  • Combining older aesthetics of well known products to bring to new design as recogniseable developments
  • Taking from the old to bring to the new as a technique for idea renewal
  • Generic forms that comprise well known structures form the forefront of design
  • Influenced by the need to create products from existing things
  • Creating relationships between familiar designs and the consumer as they relate to existing products


  • Suggests products form initiates their meaning
  • “my need to give meaning to culture is greater than my wish to package it in opaque disguises”- interpreted as designs of each age representing a specific aesthetic as a lasting reminder of the meaning of the times
  • Expresses growing need for designs to meet consumer needs, as a key influence for product progression
  • “when materials are scarce, thought can be the active creator of the future” – interpreted as proposing ideas through design
  • “the artist will become the typesetter of our culture”- presenting artists/designers as pillars of future development, manipulating the future around ideas

Marcel Wanders idealistic perceptions of design within context to consumers and the world its designed for present intriguing notions. This series of themes within the design process, catered to the development and ecology of design form a thought provoking structure of concepts and approaches to design. The narrative style provides factual content combined with personal experience and relative connection between designer and consumer.


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