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An icon in the making

Karim Rashid Marisa Bartolucci Chronicle, $12.95

August 26, 2004|David A. Keeps

This slim, square and exceedingly hip hardcover volume is the 10th entry in Chronicle's "Compact Design Portfolio" series, which is clearly taking a run at the market established by Taschen's wildly successful Icons Series of paperbacks. While the visual-heavy Icons examine subjects as diverse as Tiffany glass and '50s cars, the Compact Design Portfolios focus solely on 20th century industrial designers such as Rashid, who created Umbra's shapely plastic Garbo garbage can, of which more than 3 million have been sold since 1996.

As a co-editor of the series, Bartolucci strives to create look-books that also act as authoritative guides to a designer's aesthetic and work. Or, at least, as authoritative as one can be in an essay of 3,000-plus words and a timeline biography. Other releases in this series, such as a recent edition on the Danish design superstar Arne Jacobsen (1902-71) serve as an engaging introduction to the storied career of a master.

With Rashid, a designer who has only become a household name in the last decade, this is somewhat problematic. Bartolucci convincingly casts the Cairo-born, Canadian-schooled designer as a Prada-clad 21st century maverick who makes "techno-organic blobjects" as well as CDs of his own electropop music. There is little doubt that Rashid is a provocative thinker, intent, as he says, on "creating products for everybody, in creating a designocracy."

Perhaps one day, he will. For the present, however, a book on such a young designer, however prodigious, is more eye candy than brain food.

-- David A. Keeps

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