Space Replay is a floating black sphere that follows people around and plays back ambient sounds it has recorded. It was designed and built by Francesco Tacchini, Will Yates-Johnson and Julinka Ebhardt.
The idea that the form of a product should correspond to its essence does not simply mean that products should be designed with their intended use in mind. That a knife needs to be sharp so as to cut things is a non-controversial point accepted by most designers. The notion of essence as invoked by Jobs and Ive is more interesting and significant—more intellectually ambitious—because it is linked to the ideal of purity. No matter how trivial the object, there is nothing trivial about the pursuit of perfection. On closer analysis, the testimonies of both Jobs and Ive suggest that they did see essences existing independently of the designer—a position that is hard for a modern secular mind to accept, because it is, if not religious, then, as I say, startlingly Platonic.— Form and Fortune is an essay about Steve Jobs and Apple's design philosophy by Evgeny Morozov.
The Art of Penguin Science Fiction is a historical guide to the design of book jackets in the Penguin SF line by James Pardey. But before reading the essay I recommend looking at some of the wonderful cover designs, for example We, Deathworld, Rork!, The Drowned World, Star Maker, The Evolution Man, Fifth Planet and Alternating Currents. They certainly don't make SF book jackets like they used to. All hundred plus covers can also be browsed alphabetically by author. [via The Guardian Books Blog]
Over 2500 dust jackets of American and European books from the years 1926 through 1947. Here are some that caught my eye: Burned Evidence, If You Know What I Mean, Ikaria, Murder for the Millions, Dream of the Red Chamber and A Farewell to Arms. Finally, I can't help but link to a German book about Russian book jackets, the subject of an old post by Alvy Ampersand.
The UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History has an extensive, searchable online collection. It focuse on material art and household items and has objects from all over the world. The website can be browsed either by geographic orgin: Africa, Asia, North and Central America, Pacific, South America, or through its two exhibits, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives and Fowler in Focus. Some of my favorite objects (but really, everything is entrancing) are The Blind Scholar (a Taiwanese handpuppet), Chikunga (a Zambian mask) and a stirrup spout bottle which looks like a puma eating a piglet (Peruvian). All items have accompanying descriptions and some have short texts or audioguides with further information.
Art Deco was the dominant style of the interwar era, coming out of Paris in the 1920's and ruling the roost until World War II broke out. Randy Juster's Decopix - The Art Deco Resource has enough pictures of Art Deco architecture to send one hurtling into The Gernsback Continuum. If that's not enough then there's always the 11000+ images of the Flickr Art Deco Pool. But Art Deco wasn't just about architecture. On the Victoria and Albert Musem's Art Deco site one can view Art Deco objects in great detail, rotating them and listening to audio lectures on each object. But before Art Deco was a design aesthetic it was an art-style. Illustrations for the Art Deco Book in France has more than 170 images from the proponents of that then-new style (some images are not safe for work, especially in the George Barbier section).
Design and the Elastic Mind is a MOMA exhibit of cool objects, gadgets, websites and ideas. Some personal favorites are The PainStation, The Religious Helmet, Body Modification for Love, The Minutine Space and Lightweeds.