New American Design: Products and Graphics for a Post-Industrial Age

Rizzoli International Publishing, 1988

This is a snapshot of cutting-edge product and graphic design in the United States during a period of astonishing revival of confidence in the 1980s. Not since the ’golden age’ of industrial design in the 1930s, when figures such as Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes and Henry Dreyfuss came to the fore, has American design been so sure of itself.

It apparently took at outsider to notice the phenomenon, however. New American Design was my first book, the product of four years living in the US during the mid 1980s. Coming from a more design-conscious culture in Britain, I was able to use my observer status in the national culture to provide this document of a revival. I interviewed the creative figures leading this renaissance at 21 then-young design firms from Smart Design, IDEO and Frogdesign to Tibor Kalman’s M & Co., April Greiman, Emigré. The reputations made at this time have continued to grow, and in many cases these designers have won the widespread recognition they deserve.

Metropolis noted: ‘What New American Design does, consciously and successfully, ... is to make a case for the rise of a new sensibility.‘ There again, one peeved design academic thought ’a confused book with the ability to spread confusion. It should not, of course, be repressed, but it should be contested and criticized.’

New Maerican