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All the best things… design between the lines

| Designbest editorial staff


t is well-known that things are more than simple ‘things’.” Thus begins, with a bit of cacophonous word play, the tale of Chiara Alessi - journalist, curator and professor of design at the Politecnico di Milano - in a book that speaks to us about design through Things.

Tante care cose. Gli oggetti che ci hanno cambiato la vita (All the best things. Objects that have changed our lives), published by Longanesi, is a new design book in which 74 everyday objects get recounted through fascinating anecdotes and stories that encompass design culture. From the eight ball (Sottsass’ favorite object) to the timeless zipper (symbol of the Futurist manifesto), the book is alternated with letters, newspaper articles, amusing texts, and illustrations by Paolo D’Altan, improvised sketches that breathe life into the collective imagination.

It is a sort of collective bibliography that jumps around from anecdotes, facts, rumors and legends that feel like gossip and surprise us with revelations of famous “failures” or random successes by architects, laborers, entrepreneurs, and even an alpinist. This book shows us that the designer is “someone just like us” and the glorious creative history of Italy (the home of design) does not need embellished because it can be experienced and understood through little things.

It is a task Chiara that decided to almost playfully embark upon on Twitter during the first lockdown (with the thread of video clips #designinpigiama), allowing those everyday objects that pass unobserved to speak. In a month she had already created a virtual archive with the history of 20th century Italian design in small doses through graphical and architectonic objects, anonymous and designer ones, inventions or failures, some of which are well-known (and for this reason even more surprising). The book reveals to us how the identity of a population changes through the things it invents and uses.

47 of these have been included in the book. “Things are full of stories, history, scents, emotions, transitions, and memories. When we lose an object, we lose a piece of the past” writes Chiara Alessi. In this book she sends us a book of good omen (All the best), giving us an original look at the world around us, one we at times distractedly gaze upon, allowing us to get lost in wonder.

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