A visual guide to fascinating historical facts and philosophical musings on why and how the objects we buy, own, use, see and interact with — from tanks to iPhones — come into existence.
We all live in a world of objects, yet we rarely stop to think about how and why they came to exist, why they look and feel the way they do, or what shapes our preferences and why we own and use the ones we do. In Things We Create, renowned concept designer, cartoonist, and sculptor Axel Brechensbauer pulls back the curtain and provides a visual guide to civilization’s endless quest for the perfect human-made object.
Told in eight chapters covering topics such as “The Need of Objects,” “Recreating Nature, “Objects as Communication,” and “Objects as Power,” Brechensbauer takes the reader on a rollicking tour through the history and creation of objects that comprise our world. He digs into the basics of design, discusses why certain objects please us while others repel us, considers how the design of one object influences another, reveals how human curiosity keeps in step with technology. He answers questions such as, what makes objects so pleasing to use? Why do we create objects that are so contrary to those that appear in nature? What’s the difference between an object that fills an emotional need and one that fulfills a practical one? What determines if a piece of furniture is a copy, an artifact, or art? What is the relationship between shape and emotion?
Told with visual verve, wit, humor, and, above all, clarity, Things We Create is both a history of and a metaphysical study of physical objects — all the stuff we buy, we use, we collect, we need. As befits a book about the beauty and utility of objects, Things We Create is itself both a beautifully designed and executed object and an immensely fun and readable series of comics and diagrams.
Axel Brechensbauer is a sculptor, cartoonist, and concept design director at grow. He helps companies such as Volvo, Unilever, Sony, and H&M to visualize visions of the future, often with an emphasis on renewable resources. As a sculptor, he has designed mass-market products, immersive environments, and sculptural exhibitions around the world. He lives in Malmö, Sweden.