Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes and declares that Cambridge lived the modern life first."/>

Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
New Ideas
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments Posted 08.21.10 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Alexandra Lange

D/R, Back in the Boston Globe


Robert Campbell, the Boston Globe’s architecture critic, takes a look at Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes and declares that Cambridge lived the modern life first.

Actually, it was Cambridge half a century ago when a Brattle Street emporium sparked an American revolution in domestic taste.

A new book, just off the presses, recalls that era: Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes. The principal author is Jane Thompson, widow of Ben Thompson, the architect who created Design Research, or D/R for short.

Here’s where I feel compelled to point out that this book, while instigated by Jane, was a collaboration. It seems awfully rude not to mention Jane Thompson’s co-author, otherwise known as me.

The simplest way to sum up Thompson’s contribution to modernism is to say that he added sensuality. Much of modernism drew its inspiration from industrial technology, which was perceived as the new zeitgeist of the 20th century. That kind of modernism could be elegant, but it was often dry and intellectual. “Less is more,’’ famously said the great modernist Mies van der Rohe.

Ben and Jane Thompson liked modern clarity and simplicity, but nobody would accuse them of believing that less is more. D/R was a feast for the senses. There were always flowers, fabrics, music, colors, textures, patterns, and natural materials like wood, not to mention Bloody Marys and beautiful young Finns in Marimekko.

Much more, plus a lovely slideshow of the D/R products in Jane Thompson’s Cambridge home (including the Thonet cafe chairs, pictured above, which Ben Thompson painted all kinds of brights) here.

|
Share This Story

Comments

Design Observer encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.
Read Complete Comments Policy >>


Name             

Email address 




Please type the text shown in the graphic.


|
Share This Story



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.
More Bio >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY Alexandra Lange

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Design Research
Chronicle Books, 2010

More books by contributors >>

RELATED POSTS


The Public Library
“The public library is a singularly American invention.” An excerpt from the new book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay.

De Vinne at the Grolier Club in New York
A review of the Grolier Club’s quiet, yet noteworthy exhibition, “The Dean of American Printers: Theodore Low De Vinne and The Art Preservative of All Arts”.

The Filmic Page: Chris Marker's Commentaires
The French director Chris Marker’s book Commentaires is as innovative as book design as his documentaries are as films.

Why Tatlin Can Never Go Home Again
Raoul Hausmann’s photomontage Tatlin at Home is much pinned on Pinterest, but what has become of the original?

Speaking Typography: Letter as Image as Sound
Just as a poet weaves the intent of his poem into its sound and craft, so did Lissitzky, as designer, hope to marry intent with the typography and the design of the book itself. But did he?