Xerjoff Magazine

Every object tells a story


The evolution of objects from the birth of industry to the present is the topic of the “Big Design Atlas” of which Mondadori Electa has recently published an updated version.

Mondadori Electa publishes a new edition of the “ Grande Atlante del design dal 1850 fino a oggi” (“Big Design Atlas, from 1850 to the present”). Curated by Enrico Morteo, this volume full of images aims at making people better understand the evolution of objects from the birth of industry to the present day, highlighting how it has revolutionised our life and that of the whole planet. It is a book that, without claiming to be complete, tells us in a deliberately fragmented way about the story of many objects (home and office furniture and accessories, car design, technological design but also food products, packaging, clothing) explaining their meaning and value.

All this starting from the social and cultural context that saw those objects come to life and from the perspective of that sizeable group of people (so not only designers) who contributed to their manufacturing. The book dedicates two pages to each object (selected by the author based on the symbolic value of its story), while a series of overview sheets give this work a proper organic structure. With this work – Enrico Morteo said – “I tried to read design as a cultural issue, looking for the moments in which technique and practice meet and influence each other. I tried to select objects and projects that in my view most represent modernity in its varied aspects. Just like rock, summarised in the electric guitar used by Jimi Hendrix, the Head skis or the water skis by Freyrie, as for modern people speed becomes a thrill, a game that nobody had ever played before. These are the things that I wanted to highlight: modern ways of living and the objects that give a meaning or a body to these habits”.

Above: Red and Blue Chair designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1917 and originally manufacted by Gerard van de Groenekan in 1918.