Fewer, Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects

Fewer, Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects

by Glenn Adamson


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From the former director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, a timely and passionate case for the role of the well-designed object in the digital age.

Curator and scholar Glenn Adamson opens Fewer, Better Things by contrasting his beloved childhood teddy bear to the smartphones and digital tablets children have today. He laments that many children and adults are losing touch with the material objects that have nurtured human development for thousands of years. The objects are still here, but we seem to care less and know less about them.

In his presentations to groups, he often asks an audience member what he or she knows about the chair the person is sitting in. Few people know much more than whether it's made of wood, plastic, or metal. If we know little about how things are made, it's hard to remain connected to the world around us.

Fewer, Better Things explores the history of craft in its many forms, explaining how raw materials, tools, design, and technique come together to produce beauty and utility in handmade or manufactured items. Whether describing the implements used in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, the use of woodworking tools, or the use of new fabrication technologies, Adamson writes expertly and lovingly about the aesthetics of objects, and the care and attention that goes into producing them. Reading this wise and elegant book is a truly transformative experience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632869647
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 08/07/2018
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 471,643
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Glenn Adamson is a senior scholar at the Yale Center for British Art and works across the fields of design, craft, and contemporary art. Until March 2016 he was the director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and has been head of research at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and curator at the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee. His books include Art in the Making (coauthored with Julia Bryan-Wilson) and The Craft Reader, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Engaging with the Objects Around Us 1

1 Life on Pumpkin Creek 11

2 A Few Words on Craft 15

3 The Paper Challenge 19

4 Being "Hands On" 27

5 Tricks of the Trade 31

6 Tooling Up 34

7 Learning by Doing 46

8 Prototyping 52

9 One Thing for Another 57

10 Face to Face 65

11 Communities of Respect 73

12 Finding Our Way 76

13 The Contact Zone 81

14 The Paradise of Touch 90

15 The View from the Hardware Store 95

16 Time to Pay Attention 99

17 The Myth of the Dumb Object 104

18 Going Deep 109

19 The Way of Tea 114

20 All That Is Left 119

21 Small Worlds 126

22 Fewer, Better Things 136

23 To Have and to Hold 143

24 Thinking Things Through 151

25 Material Science 157

26 Handle … with Care 162

27 Anchor Points 174

28 The View from Tucumcari 178

29 Thinking Inside the Box 185

30 Material Histories 191

31 The Itinerary of Plastic 197

32 A Book of Secrets 202

33 Facts, Not Opinions 210

34 Two Castes, One People? 217

Epilogue: The Virtues of Things 221

Acknowledgments 229

Notes 233

Index 249

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