History of Design Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400-2000 Pat Kirkham, Susan Weber, Bard Graduate Center, Bard Graduate Center,

Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design & Culture
Publication date:
08 Nov 2013
704 pages: 300 x 248 x 39mm
760 colour + black-&-white illustrations


Spanning six centuries of global design, this far-reaching survey is the first to offer an account of the vast history of decorative arts and design produced in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and the Islamic world, from 1400 to the present. Meticulously documented and lavishly illustrated, the volume covers interiors, furniture, textiles and dress, glass, graphics, metalwork, ceramics, exhibitions, product design, landscape and garden design, and theater and film design. Divided into four chronological sections, each of which is subdivided geographically, the authors elucidate the evolution of style, form, materials, and techniques, and address vital issues such as gender, race, patronage, cultural appropriation, continuity versus innovation, and high versus low culture. Leading authorities in design history and decorative arts studies present hundreds of objects in their contemporary contexts, demonstrating the overwhelming extent to which the applied arts have enriched customs, ceremony, and daily life worldwide over the past six hundred years. This ambitious, landmark publication is essential reading, contributing a definitive classic to the existing scholarship on design, decorative arts, and material culture, while also introducing these subjects to new readers in a comprehensive, erudite book with widespread appeal.

Pat Kirkham is a professor at the Bard Graduate Center, where Susan Weber is founder and director.

ÿ?For those with deep pockets this season, the best titles are undoubtedly Susan Weber and Pat Kirkham?s History of Design, which is both a stunning visual survey of 600 years of making, and an in-depth look at the evolution of the very idea of design itself??Michael Glover, The Independent

“Masterminded by Susan Weber, founder of New York’s prestigious Bard Graduate Center for the study of decorative arts, the book is the culmination of a long-cherished aim to create an authoritative reference work treating the design and cultural context of useful and decorative artefacts with the same degree of intellectual rigour and enthusiasm that is generally accorded in scholarly circles only to painting and sculpture.”—Stephen Calloway, House & Garden Magazine

‘This ambitious survey, which has been produced by the Bard Graduate Center in New York, grew out of the perceived lack of a satisfactory introduction to the applied arts that spanned historical and geographical borders. It looks set to fix that, gathering together “adventurous scholars” and illustrating their incisive contributions with an excellent range of high-quality images.’—Apollo Magazine

‘History of Design is a remarkable achievement and should play a central role for encouraging the ongoing studies of decorative arts and design among students, and, one hopes, a broader public.’—Christopher Menz, Australian Book Review.

"This is an excellent resource not only for its breadth of content and its structure, but the opportunity it affords to approach and critically discuss the development of designed objects in relationship to their own cultures within a globalized world." – Carla Cesare, Journal of Design History

“Scholarly yet generally readable, close attention is paid to the style, form, materials, and techniques associated with interiors, furniture, textiles and dress, glass, and so on. Exhaustive—not exhausting. Rather like walking through the front door of an imaginary museum of design and letting the artistic wealth of the ages overwhelm.”—Norman Weinstein, Designers & Books

“Nearly a decade in the making, History of Design is right for both the design maven and novice. Organized by historical era (1400-1600, e.g.) and by various areas of the world (East Asia, Europe, etc.), this heavyweight is dotted with gorgeous images. The knowledgeable commentary by various design writers lets interested readers delve into the details, but flipping through the book’s 700 pages is fun too.”—Kirkus

“Whether readers are veteran collectors or novices, this magisterial volume offers them countless examples of the infinite richness that design has brought to daily life in all levels of society. Comprehensive, erudite, and invitingly accessible, the tome is hard to lift, but harder to put down.”—The Magazine Antiques