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How things work better

Designers on Design Terence Conran and Max Fraser Conran Octopus, $39.95

October 28, 2004

In this refreshingly opinionated reference book, 110 designers who make a living dreaming up consumer goods say that they are not fueled by a desire to fill store shelves with more products. Instead, they want to encourage social responsibility, discourage our throwaway mentality and replace it with life-enhancing, intelligent solutions.

The handsome, 256-page tome gives each contemporary designer a two-page color spread to explain his or her belief that new products need to last longer, work better and look smarter than what is already out there. Almost 400 photographs and illustrations back up their ideas.

Where do they turn for inspiration? Struggling designers and civilians will appreciate the honest answers from such leaders in the field as Jasper Morrison of London and Toshiyuki Kita of Japan.

Some of the answers may surprise you. For instance, Yves Behar, a Pasadena Art Center College of Design grad who works for San Francisco-based Fuseproject, says the dreaminess of the classic book "The Little Prince" helped him think up such products as Toshiba's sleek Transformer laptop and Birkenstock's bubbly Birki clogs.

Janet Eastman

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