Publication

  • Sifting through Trash and Diagnosing Sickness: A History of Design Criticism
    Alice Twemlow
    Author
    MIT Press, 2016
  • GRANTEE
    Alice Twemlow
    GRANT YEAR
    2015

Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, spread from participatory newspaper created at International Design Conference at Aspen, 1971, Aspen, CO. Image copyright: Sheila Levrant de Bretteville.

Assigning value and identifying social ills were two of the prevalent impetuses in late-twentieth-century design criticism. Using these motivations as thematic lenses, this book examines shifts in the intellectual, stylistic, and material constitution of product design criticism in the United States and the UK since the 1950s. Bookended by the formative mid-century years of product design criticism and the millennial era of blogs and amateur online product reviews, the book spotlights the work of previously unheralded critics, such as the American coeditor of Industrial Design magazine Deborah Allen, and re-examines the contributions of well-known bylines such as the British design and architecture critic Reyner Banham. In addition to critical writing, the book also considers other formats such as conferences, exhibitions, and the designed object itself. In identifying key historical moments of contestation in critical practice, therefore, this book assembles a time-lapse portrait of the shifting registers of design criticism, and aims to contribute meaningfully to the discipline's emergent historiography.

Alice Twemlow is chair of the MFA in design criticism and the MA in design research, writing, and criticism at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She earned an MA and PhD through the Victoria & Albert Museum/Royal College of Art History of Design program in London. She has authored numerous articles for publications, such as Eye magazine and Design Observer, as well as essays and introductions for titles such as Design Icons (Berg/Bloomsbury, 2014), The Aspen Complex (Sternberg Press, 2012), and Lolita: The Story of a Cover Girl (Print Books, 2013). She has directed and moderated more than twenty conferences on design and design criticism, and delivered papers at conferences, including those at CAA, MoMA, AIGA, and the Design History Society. She was critic-in-residence at VCU Qatar in 2013 and has served as a guest critic and lecturer at CalArts, Eindhoven Academy, RISD, Yale University, and Parsons The New School for Design, among others.