This week I was pleased to discover The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design in the ‘New Books’ area from the circulation desk at Humber College’s spiffy new Library. Perhaps hard to see in the shadows of the lower shelf, this recently-published three-volume set offers a credible, scholarly option for design students starting their research on academic and studio projects. It presents short essays about a wide variety of design-related subjects: design dissemination; design history; design practitioners; design concepts; geography and design. The list of subject editors and contributing authors are well-known in the field of Design History and Theory. Industrial design students will recognize David Raizman, Kjetil Fallan, Tony Fry, Rachel Gotlieb, and Grace Lees-Maffei, to name a few; interior design students will recognize Clive Edwards, DJ Huppatz, and Tiiu Poldma, among others. The brief essays are well-researched and provide suggested scholarly resources, as well as connections to other entries in the Encyclopedia.
While The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design includes many of the standard overviews of design themes and styles, as well as biographies of designers, this title’s most exciting content can be found in many of the new perspectives on contemporary design. Thinking of the two first year classes that I teach in the design degree programs – History of [Industrial] Design (IDSN1005), and [Interior] Design Theory 1 (INTD1002) – I did a quick search of Encyclopedia of Design entries relevant to this week’s material in my classes. For instance, when considering week 10 in History of Design, I found helpful overviews of Alvar Aalto, Art Deco, Norman Bel Geddes, Harry Beck, Consumption and Consumerism, Donald Deskey, Henry Dreyfuss, Ergonomics, Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), New York World’s Fair (1939-40), and Streamlining. When remembering this week’s discussions in Design Theory 1, I discovered Laura Scherling’s relevant essay dealing with “Design Grammar.” In this piece, Scherling acknowledges the historical foundations of this topic, especially the design grammar of abstract form pioneered by Bauhaus contributions. She expands her coverage to include the grammar of Universal Design Principles and then brings the discussion up to date by concluding that “the language of design also reframes itself in context to twenty-first century issues surrounding postcolonialism, gender studies, sustainability and colonial resilience, and social and civic engagement.” (Scherling, 2016)
For those keen first year students working on their end-of-term papers in Design History and Theory, here is a sample bibliographic citation (APA style) to follow when using this resource:
Scherling, Laura S. (2016). “Design Grammar.” In C. Edwards (Gen. Ed.), The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design (vol. 1: 381-383). London: Bloomsbury Academic.