Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: Design Your Life by Ellen and Julia Lupton

From Goodreads:
Design Your Life is a series of irreverent and realistic snapshots about objects and how we interact with them. By leading design thinker Ellen Lupton and her twin sister Julia Lupton, it shows how design is about much more than what’s bought at high-end stores or the modern look at IKEA. Design is critical thinking: a way to look at the world and wonder why things work, and why they don’t.

Illustrated with original paintings of objects both ordinary and odd,Design Your Life casts a sharp eye on everything from roller bags, bras, toilet paper, and stuffed animals to parenting, piles, porches, and potted plants. Using humor and insight Ellen and Julia explore the practical side of everyday design, looking at how it impacts your life in unexpected ways and what you can do about it. Speaking to the popular interest in design as well as people’s desire to make their own way through a mass-produced world, this thoughtful book takes a fresh and humorous approach to make some serious points about the impact of design on our lives.
Very well done from a writing standpoint.  I found the short chapters to be very readable and understandable, even to someone as ignorant about the world of design as myself.  I feel like both experts and neophytes can get something from this book, though, particularly because it is so cleverly done and so funny.  The author makes her subject, everyday items, interesting and appealing, and presents her design information in a way that's easily accessible to all readers.

Entertainment Value
As you can tell from my assessment of the writing, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I'm interested in design, but have no knowledge, skills, or experience to base that interest on.  I was pleased with how easy it was to read this book and how I was able to grasp the concepts being presented, particularly as they were presented in a manner that was really enjoyable to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed my read and recommend it to anyone who has an interest in design.  It's definitely not going to appeal to everyone though - it's exactly what it says it is: a book about the design, function, and use of everyday objects.  A great read with very nice illustrations, but will appeal to a limited audience.


  1. Julie, if this design stuff intrigued you, there's a cool podcast I might recommend. It's called 99% Invisible, and it has a really polished sound, kinda in the same vein as Radiolab. They talk about the design aspects of all kinds of thing--there was a show about naming stuff, a show about engineering a crazy-looking building so it wouldn't fall down, and an episode about an old statue in New England dedicated to a white woman who scalped a bunch of Native Americans (the episode was about whether we should preserve something like that for historical reasons, or tear it down, or just let it "die of natural causes")... it's pretty much always interesting and thoughtful. Let me know what you think if you end up checking it out!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I'll be sure to check it out!