Glenn Adamson Thinks You Need Less Stuff

Glenn Adamson Thinks You Need Less Stuff

When it comes to collecting, decorating, feasting, and celebrating, even fans of Modernism are apt to flip Mies van der Rohe’s famous dictum on its head: More is, actually, more. For people who really love design, it’s hard not to covet the fresh and the novel: a new collection, an updated color palette, a different material to give our homes a fresh look. We’ve been trained by generations of annual upgrading (for everything from cars to iPhones) and the long-established practice of shopping for leisure to browse, admire, and acquire things, whether our survival depends on them or not. (It usually doesn’t.) In his inspiring new book, Fewer, Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Object (Bloomsbury, $27), writer, curator, and former director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Glenn Adamson, confronts such long-ingrained notions of materiality from several angles. Adamson invites readers to follow along on a series of thought experiments about the objects in our lives, our relationships to them, what they mean, and how we might go about distilling them so that our material footprint is greatly reduced. And this isn’t just an exercise—the future of humanity might depend on it.

Read More

How Furniture Shapes What We Teach Children

How Furniture Shapes What We Teach Children

How long have children had designed objects to call their own? Ancient toys from Greece, Rome, Egypt, and the Indus Valley suggest that kids in the ancient world were playing with tiny horses on wheels, bird-shaped whistles, dolls, and even yo-yos several millennia ago. Portrait paintings of well-to-do and royal children from the Renaissance onward suggest that privileged kids wore custom-made clothing, and sometimes had their very own picturesque pets. But the mass marketplace for furniture, books, clothes, and games, as well as public spaces designed specifically with children in mind, is a surprisingly recent phenomenon, as Alexandra Lange explains in her fascinating new book The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids (Bloomsbury, $20). The playgrounds, video games, and tiny T-shirts that populate the world of contemporary childhood all exist today because we believe that childhood is a phase of life worth celebrating and taking seriously.

Read More

Artful Furniture Takes the Stage in Philadelphia

Artful Furniture Takes the Stage in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is no stranger to exquisite handmade furniture: It’s a city full of design galleries and renowned university craft programs. In the colonial period and in the early days of the Republic, Philadelphia craftsmen made some of the finest furniture in the New World. Later, nearby Bucks County was home to the furniture makers Phillip Lloyd Powell, George Nakashima, Wharton Esherick, and Paul Evans. So the city of Brotherly Love is a natural fit for the Philadelphia Furniture Show, which, for the past 24 years, has showcased the work of top independent designers from across the country.

Read More