Pete Morelewicz's Favorite Design Objects

It's difficult to tell who enjoys these books more, the children they're intended for, or the adults who buy them. These little pearls hold between their shells incredible works of paper engineering. The 3D worlds come to life as one flips through the pages, astounding kids—and challenging adults to figure out how they're created. Though the story lines are simple, the mesmerizing constructions make these books hard to put down. 

The ubiquity of this workhorse can keep one from stepping back to appreciate its contribution to both cooking and design. Besides its ability to mix up batch after batch of dough, the endless stream of attachments means it can help out with every section of the cookbook. Perhaps most stunning is that nearly 75 years after Egmont Arens introduced his design, its overall profile hasn't changed. According to Wikipedia, "The mixer is one of the only consumer appliances trademarked specifically for its unique shape." So go home and whip up a batch of cupcakes for this stalwart of industrial design.

Commerce and art have always had a tangled history. In 1907, celebrated sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens bridged the two with his design for the $20 gold double eagle coin. Production challenges prevented the high-relief version of the coin from being properly minted, and a flatter, less-sculptural version was put into circulation. Numismatists decried its lack of fidelity to St. Gaudens' concept. Last year the U.S. Mint reissued the original design, introducing to a new generation St. Gauden's concept of commerce as art.

The success of a typeface can be measured by how well the reader reacts to it. If a typeface is designed to live in a newspaper's stock tables, it should allow for a quick, breezy read. If it's chunky and bold, it should scream to the reader, “Hey, this is important.” In the case of House Industries' Neutraface, one is immediately transported to the sweeping modernism of Richard Neutra's Palm Springs. Neutra's aesthetic is reflected in every curve of the letterforms, turning any type-design project into a martini-infused confection. (Olives not included.)

Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss recast everything from tractors to locomotives, melding utility and ergonomics into practical, stylish product design. One of his most enduring designs hung quietly in nearly every house built in the post-war period: the Honeywell circular thermostat. The interface is so simple as to be intuitive to the user. Ever the attentive designer, his solution served more than one client: its very shape helped out the busy contractor, too. The fact that it's round means that it can be a little off level when installed, and no one will notice. It’s a good reminder that sometimes the best design is the one not noticed.

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