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Chasing the perfect: thoughts on modernist design in our time

by Natalia Ilyin, Susan Szenasy
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Metropolis Books
  • Publishing date: 15/01/2006
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781933045214
  • ISBN: 1933045213

Synopsis

In Chasing the Perfect writer/designer Natalia Ilyin delivers her astute, incisive, and humorous observations on design and the world it has molded. According to Ilyin, "Modern design is based on deeply idealist notions, and its inherent perfectionism has dovetailed beautifully with our commodity-based economy's need to keep people itching so that they will buy things and keep the society chugging along. I began Chasing the Perfect because I started to become aware of this collusion, this silent pressure that a language of design based in perfectionism had brought to bear on how I developed as a person." Chasing the Perfect is especially relevant in our times as interest in graphic, industrial, and architectural design moves more and more into mainstream culture. Each of the 10 chapters features Ilyin's accessible and often hilarious writing, which is highlighted with a broad range of images--some quite unexpected--from the designed world around us. An excerpt: "The choices that designers and architects have made in the last hundred years silently mold us, silently direct us through the tunnels of Penn Station or up to the fifty-third floor of the Sears Tower. But they direct more than our movements. They direct us to notice one thing and not another, to value one thing over another, to identify with one thing rather than with another. Modernism, the guts of it, the strength of it, the egotistic beauty of it, carries with it effects we did not expect and fosters attitudes about ourselves and others that may have been dandy in a utopia, but do little good in our world. Why have we not changed this idea, moved on with our thinking? For even after the disbanding of the Bauhaus, the disintegration of the International Style, the exhausting of postmodernism, we're all still chasing the perfect."

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  • Excellence All the Way Around
    From Amazon

    In ordinary hands, modernist design theory might be a dry and dusty topic, but Natalia Ilyin brings it to life and makes it fascinating. She draws you in with beautiful writing, humor, and razor-sharp perceptions; and along the way, she delves deeply into art -- and into life itself. It took courage to stand up to the current mode of design education. As a writer, Ilyin chased the perfect, and she caught it. And she did it with insight and grace.

  • will make you see the world in new ways
    From Amazon

    I LOVED this book. Ilyin weaves together BIG, thought provoking ideas and deeply personal insights (that resonate as much for me as they do for her), and does it in amazingly elegant prose. This book is profound, thoughtful, and beautifully written. AND fun to read! I recommend it highly!

  • Great quick read on visual design education and Modernism
    From Amazon

    Natalia doesn't delve deep into intellectual arguments here, but she does open many doors leading to rooms of questsions about the state of design education in America and it's seemingly unwavering championing of Modernism. She ties this in with her personal life and how she came to question her modernist education - this might be a turn off for academics seeking pure thought and data.
    I'm looking forward to her expanding on the ideas she brings up in this book!

  • Book report
    From Amazon

    I'm finishing up with "Chasing The Perfect" by Natalia Ilyin and when I'm done, I'm going to read it over again.

    In my periodic browsing of the Graphic Arts section at B&N I became a statistic and fell for the cover. Bauhaus period minimalism...always gets me. Hmmmm, words on Modernist design from a nutty professor at RSD? Cool.

    Went home, logged on, pressed a button and waited...

    She's talking about the influence of the "Modernist" aesthetic on our design sense, on our basic human qualities and the effect on society. The unspoken idiom: the crafty subliminal itching that keeps us moving, to desire the next best thing...the perfect. Here's a hint: "Moo".

    Scholarly, eloquent, silly and self deprecating. Heady subjects made tangible, this is my kind of read! So many levels of satisfaction, all feeding the creative spirit. This book is an epiphany for delinquent designers who are questioning conformity...that would be me.

    Besides the stated subject of examining why we strive towards ever elusive perfection and the resulting mess...Ilyn uses personal example and anecdote, much of which serendipitously occurs in locales I currently inhabit (NY), as well as the landscapes of mind I travel. Anxiety, doubt, depression, hunger, bewilderment, excitement, joy, anger, nincompoopery. Ilyn wrote about herself, but she wrote for ME! The insights are piled high, personal and potent. Plus there are pictures!

    I have been improved for having read: "Chasing The Perfect". I would recommend for anyone with a brain.

  • a brilliantly witty and deeply personal guide to life
    From Amazon

    I recommend this book wholeheartedly. I am a theoretical physicist and a writer, so what do I know about design theory and ironic distance? Nothing. But this book is not for designers alone. Rather, it is nothing short of a brilliantly witty and deeply personal guide to life, a heartfelt beacon on the darkling plain "where ignorant armies clash by night" showing us the way to a more joyous and messier life. I came to this book because I'm a fan of Natalia Ilyin's earlier book "Blonde Like Me," which just like this book, is also chock full of fabulous writing and heart-warming insights.

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