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Small Things Considered: Why There Is No Perfect Design
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Bibliographic Detail
Publisher Alfred a Knopf Inc
Publication date September 1, 2003
Pages 288
Binding Hardcover
Book category Adult Non-Fiction
ISBN-13 9781400040506
ISBN-10 1400040507
Dimensions 0.75 by 6.50 by 9.50 in.
Weight 1.35 lbs.
Availability§ Publisher Out of Stock Indefinitely
Original list price $25.00
Other format details sci/tech
§As reported by publisher
Summaries and Reviews
Summary
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.
Amazon.com description: Product Description: Henry Petroski, “America’s poet laureate of technology” (Kirkus Reviews)–author of The Pencil and The Evolution of Useful Things–now gives us an entertaining and perceptive study of design in everyday life, while revealing the checkered pasts, and some possible futures, of familiar objects.

Chairs, lightbulbs, cup holders, toothbrushes, doorknobs, light switches, potato peelers, paper bags, duct tape–as 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. Nothing’s 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 models–from cups that opened like paper bags to those that came with pleats–for 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 don’t, 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.

Editions
Hardcover
Book cover for 9781400040506
 
The price comparison is for this edition
from Alfred a Knopf Inc (September 1, 2003)
9781400040506 | details & prices | 288 pages | 6.50 × 9.50 × 0.75 in. | 1.35 lbs | List price $25.00
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.
Paperback
Book cover for 9781400032938
 
Reprint edition from Vintage Books (September 1, 2004)
9781400032938 | details & prices | 288 pages | 5.25 × 8.00 × 0.75 in. | 0.65 lbs | List price $16.95
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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