The Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945–1976 (A Quadrant Book)

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9780816670390: The Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945–1976 (A Quadrant Book)

In February 1956 the president of IBM, Thomas Watson Jr., hired the industrial designer and architect Eliot F. Noyes, charging him with reinventing IBM’s corporate image, from stationery and curtains to products such as typewriters and computers and to laboratory and administration buildings. What followed—a story told in full for the first time in John Harwood’s The Interface—remade IBM in a way that would also transform the relationships between design, computer science, and corporate culture.

IBM’s program assembled a cast of leading figures in American design: Noyes, Charles Eames, Paul Rand, George Nelson, and Edgar Kaufmann Jr. The Interface offers a detailed account of the key role these designers played in shaping both the computer and the multinational corporation. Harwood describes a surprising inverse effect: the influence of computer and corporation on the theory and practice of design. Here we see how, in the period stretching from the “invention” of the computer during World War II to the appearance of the personal computer in the mid-1970s, disciplines once well outside the realm of architectural design—information and management theory, cybernetics, ergonomics, computer science—became integral aspects of design.

As the first critical history of the industrial design of the computer, of Eliot Noyes’s career, and of some of the most important work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames, The Interface supplies a crucial chapter in the story of architecture and design in postwar America—and an invaluable perspective on the computer and corporate cultures of today.

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About the Author:

John Harwood is associate professor of modern and contemporary architectural history at Oberlin College. He is the author, with Janet Parks, of The Troubled Search: The Work of Max Abramovitz and, with Jesse LeCavalier and Guillaume Mojon, of This Will--This.

Review:

"This study is as essential for historians of postwar American architecture, corporate culture, and applied cybernetics as it is a vital archaeology of our current world of digitized experience, in which few aspects of daily life have not be restructured by the science and business of computing." - Barry Bergdoll, Columbia University

"Getting a look inside the box, and figuring out who stuffed the wires in there, is one of the pleasures of The Interface... 'The world once wondered: What would a computerized world look like?' The Interface reminds us of the question, and tells us who answered it." - The Daily

"This handsome, wide-ranging book makes clear that IBM's integrated design effort, in which a vision of the power and potential of information technology was married to a protean but cohesive aesthetic, is the forerunner of and model for Apple's equally--but by no means more--influential design achievement." - The Atlantic

"Harwood's Interface offers an insightful, engaging, and exquisitely researched account of the design of one of the twentieth century's most recognizable brands and most ubiquitous objects, the IBM computer." - Margaret Maile Petty, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ, in West 86th

Winner of the 2014 Alice Davis Hitchcock Award from the Society of Architectural Historians

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Book Description University of Minnesota Press, United States, 2011. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In February 1956 the president of IBM, Thomas Watson Jr., hired the industrial designer and architect Eliot F. Noyes, charging him with reinventing IBM s corporate image, from stationery and curtains to products such as typewriters and computers and to laboratory and administration buildings. What followed-a story told in full for the first time in John Harwood s The Interface-remade IBM in a way that would also transform the relationships between design, computer science, and corporate culture. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780816670390

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