The kindest and strongest praise that you can give this book is that it was written in 1955 and neither its praxis nor its theory has aged a day. A lot of external praise is directed at its much-ballyhooed prognostication of the future (predicting FaceTime in 1955, that sort of thing) which is cute and fun but not really the point. The point is that it does do two things very well:

  1. The book examines how to develop, nurture, and improve the designer/manufacturer and designer/user relationships;
  2. The book offers a simple five-step ranking of important design characteristics.

The latter bullet point only takes up a chapter of the book, but it's a very good chapter and one in which the whole soul of Dreyfuss' ethos is revealed. The five characteristics are:

  1. Utility & safety
  2. Maintenance
  3. Cost
  4. Sales appeal
  5. Appearance

Simple, reasonable, effective. The book is full of examples of how these characteristics are applied in practice, and how they can be used to guide design decisions. It's a great book — never too dry, never too abstract — and worth reading for an aspiring designer in any sense of the word.


Lightning bolt
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