Chairs, lightbulbs, cup holders, toothbrushes, doorknobs, light switches, potato peelers, paper bags, duct tapeâas ubiquitous as these may be, they are still works in progress. The design of such ordinary items demonstrates the simple brilliance of human creativity, while at the same time showing the frustration of getting anything completely right. Nothingâs perfect, and so the quest for perfection continues to continue.
In this engrossing and insightful book, Petroski takes us inside the creative process by which common objects are invented and improved upon in pursuit of the ever-elusive perfect thing. He shows us, for instance, how the disposable paper cup became a popular commercial success only after the public learned that shared water glasses could carry germs; how it took years, an abundance of business panache, and many discarded modelsâfrom cups that opened like paper bags to those that came with pleatsâfor the inventor of the paper cup to arrive at what we now use and toss away without so much as a thought for its fascinating history.
A trenchant, surprising evaluation of why some designs succeed and others donât, Small Things Considered is also an utterly delightful study of human nature.
Henry Petroski, the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University, lives in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of ten previous books.
About: A professor of civil engineering considers ordinary objects as works in progress, taking readers inside the creative design process of such commonplace objects as chairs, light bulbs, tooth brushes, door knobs, and light switches.
About: A professor of civil engineering considers ordinary objects as works in progress, taking readers inside the creative design process and revealing the fluidity that accompanies the shape of chairs, lightbulbs, toothbrushes, door knobs, and light switches, among other commonplace objects.
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