From Hummers to Hybrids: Design in the Oughts Revisited

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A decade of design and architecture is drawing to a close. How did we do? Dan Neil talks about the everyday object that trumps Twitter, Dakota Smith explains how the ugliest LA structure made it onto a Best Buildings list, Otis president Sammy Hoi updates the state of LA's "creative economy" and Alissa Walker picks some design and architecture books that capture the moment.

The Designs of the Time

Dan Neil, Pulitzer Prize-winning auto critic and advertising columnist for the Los Angeles Times talks about the products and inventions which have transformed our everyday lives this decade. Neil offers his choices for the most era-defining pieces of design, which may surprise you.

An Ugliest Building That's Also the Best?

Two years ago, Curbed LA editor Josh Williams appeared on DnA to announce the winner of the blog's Ugliest Building contest. This year, Curbed LA editor Dakota Smith joins us to discuss the results of Curbed LA's Best Buildings of the Decade, which, interestingly, includes that very same "ugly" building. We find out why, and survey the list of runner-ups.

A Report on LA's Creative Economy

Otis College of Art and Design has released its third annual Report on the Creative Economy, a study conducted in partnership with the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. The report includes some good news for creatives who may have ended the decade on a down note. Otis president Sammy Hoi explains why LA is positioned to be the creative capital of the world.

Design and Architecture Books to Give or Receive

Although print publishing has taken a hit during the last decade, design and architecture books have managed to become even more beautifully designed, intelligently written, and (in a few cases) bigger and heavier than ever. Fast Company design writer and DnA associate producer Alissa Walker joins Frances to discuss books which define the past ten years and look towards the future. Below, a complete list of 2009's best books, including many we didn't have time to mention on the show.

Architecture in Times of Need: Make It Right--Rebuilding the New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward
Kristin Feireiss, Brad Pitt
A look at the sustainable, world-class architectural projects that Brad Pitt's Make It Right foundation brought to the residents of post-Katrina New Orleans.

Geoff Manaugh
Architectural futurist Manaugh examines the built environment through a science fiction lens in a series of essays based on his popular blog.

Building Up and Tearing Down: Reflections on the Age of Architecture
Paul Goldberger
The Pulitzer Prize-winning critic's 57 essays look back on an era of frenzied building in New York City, the likes of which we may never see again.

The Bicycle Diaries
David Byrne
The musician's beautifully-written essays discuss his views on cities and urbanism, told from the seat of his foldable bike.

The Children's Book
A.S. Byatt
A novel set at the end of the 19th century in a world of people involved in decorative arts and progressive politics. Absolute must-read for anyone interested in the Arts and Crafts movement, Art Nouveau or Jugendstil.

City Walks Architecture: New York
Alissa Walker
25 architectural walking tours in New York City including the brand-new High Line park and sustainable skyscrapers in Times Square.

Construction Manual 1988-2009
Eric Owen Moss
An encyclopedic book--finger-tabs included!--that goes into incredible detail for 40 incredible buildings which Moss designed in the last 20 years, whether they were realized or not.

Dark Nostalgia
Eva Hagberg
A sumptuous survey of the filament-lit, leather-bound and taxidermied aesthetic creeping into bars, restaurants and boutique hotels.

Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People
Emily Pilloton
A colorful, inspiring array of innovative products and ideas--both high and low tech--that improve the well-being of communities around the world.

Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things
Ellen and Julia Lupton
Identical twins survey the design implications of our household objects in a hilarious series of illustrated Martha Stewart-meets-David Sedaris essays.

Dream House: The White House as an American Home
Ulysses Z. Dietz, Sam Watters
The 200-year-old house as seen through the interior design and architectural renovations each subsequent resident has made to it.

Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design
Faythe Levine, Cortney Heimerl
The handmade movement in the U.S. is illustrated through the work and studios of 25 artists, designers, crafters, makers and DIY mavens.

The Language of Things: Understanding the World of Desirable Objects
Deyan Sudjic
The director of London's Design Museum delves deep within consumer culture to reveal our obsession with all things designed.

Living West: New Residential Architecture in Southern California
Sam Lubell
New Southern California residences built in the last ten years, all by young, energetic architectural firms with new ideas for how LA should live.

Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays at the Intersection of Design and Life
Debbie Millman
A graphic designer chooses different mediums--from chalk to cross-stitch--to illustrate each of her essays about branding, consumerism and culture.

Los Angeles: Portrait of a City
Jim Heimann
A massive and comprehensive 500-image photographic history of Los Angeles begins with the first photo taken of the city and chronicles its historic rise and sprawl.

Maison Martin Margiela
Maison Martin Margiela
The first retrospective to survey the bold, theatrical body of work from the Belgian-born fashion designer, presented in an appropriately luxurious way.

Made You Look
Stefan Sagmeister, Peter Hall
An monograph of the provocative graphic designer's work, including handwritten commentary on projects ranging from album covers to his diary-based artwork.


More design book recommendation lists:

Books for Design Lovers, Brooke Hodge on The Moment blog

The Year's Best Design and Architecture Books, Fast Company

Art and Architecture Books, The New York Times critics

Favorite Books of 2009, A Daily Dose of Architecture

Best Innovation and Design Books of 2009, BusinessWeek

Holiday Books, the Editors of Design Observer

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