Book Review, Geography of Home by Akiko Busch
By brucelee on Oct 10, 2007
Bruce Lee is a brand strategist, who works closely with xDesign to define the branded look and interactions of Software user interfaces.
Geography of Home: Writings on Where We Live by Akiko Busch
I paused for more than a moment before starting to review and recommend yet another book for designers that isn't a design book per se. I mean, how can a five-by-seven-inch book that runs 163 pages (including the epilogue) and which content is a collections of essays about rooms in a home be so important to design?
When I arrived at an answer it was in my usual oblique way. This book isn't really about the design of things as much as it is the design of a designer's mind. It has more effect on the designer who creates the design. I believe that in order to design anything effectively—from medical equipment to juicers—a designer must understand how we live. Akiko Busch gets this. She used to write the essay on the back pages of Metropolis Magazine. Metropolis understands that how we live is the central question for architecture, and Akiko Busch understands it as a central question in creating a life worth living.
The essays in this book are atmospheric and evocative, and reveal a mind finely tuned to the the subtleties of space. And it's spiced with a generous helping of wry humor:
"The Shakers have always irritated me. Not that I don't love the benches, candle stands, wheelbarrows, and chests made by members of this now all-but-extinct American sect. But to my mind, the simplicity of line and the sense of industry expressed in these objects aren't enough. It's no big revelation that beautiful objects can come out of limited circumstances; that's one of life's ordinary truths. But exclude sex and books, as the Shakers did, and you begin to define a starved life.
This is what really bothers me most about the Shakers—they didn't believe much in books."
She's such a good writer, I wish she was more prolific. She's also written and edited some stellar design books, notably The Photography of Architecture, and the awesome collection from Metropolis: Design Is...Words, Things, People, Buildings, and Places at Metropolis.
My recommendation: get everything Akiko Busch has written, and read it... twice. And, I'll confess that I've even purchased books for which she only wrote the preface.