BF -- Applied Arts


Design Encyclopedia: 1880 to the Present. Mel Byars. München: Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1994. 612 p. ill. 27 cm. Originally published by Laurence King Publishing, London. ISBN 3-7814-0365-3: DM 98.00


Dictionnaire international des arts appliqués et du design [International Dictionary of Applied Arts and Design]. Ed. Arlette Barré-Despond. Paris: Editions du Regard, 1996. 650 p. ill. 32 cm. ISBN 2-84105-024-6: FF 650.00

As its title indicates, the Design Encyclopedia covers the period from 1880 to the present. It emphasizes creative personalities behind the design of objects for interior spaces. Short biographies of individuals provide personal information, and information on exhibits and awards received. These individual biographies are complemented by entries on design firms and cooperatives, as well as on stylistic movements. The black and white illustrations are grouped together in blocks, but do not reference the article which describes the object depicted. In his foreword the author states that he aims his work at the widest possible audience. Those interested in in-depth treatment of a specific designer, style or firm must rely on monographs or exhibit catalogs. As a helpful starting point, the Design Encyclopedia is most welcome.

The Design Encyclopedia and the Dictionnaire international des arts appliqués et du design complement each other in spite of their almost identical scope: both focus on designers and firms and offer coverage beginning with the last two decades of the nineteenth century. The Dictionnaire adds selected subject terms (e.g., journals). An examination of the articles beginning with the letters "Do" revealed 25 entries in the English-language work and 18 in the French, with only partial overlap. Depth of coverage is also different, with French designers, for example, sometimes treated more extensively in the Design Encyclopedia than in the French work. The level of detail of the signed articles in the Dictionnaire varies from article to article, and its entries lack the individual bibliographies present in Byars' work, though there is a bibliography at the end. In contrast to the Design Encyclopedia, some of the illustrations in the Dictionnaire are full-page and in color. Researchers should start with the Design Enyclopedia and then, if the resutlts are unsatisfactory, go on to the Dictionnaire. [sh/sbd]

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