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The Atlantic: Cover to Cover

The Atlantic

In this related book, Harwood, a professor of art at Oberlin, explores the most ambitious coordinated design effort in the history of American business—the creations of the extraordinary group working for IBM that transformed the relationship between design, computer science, and corporate culture. From the mid-1950s to the mid-’70s a stellar collection of designers and architects, including Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Eero Saarinen, Paul Rudolph, Isamu Noguchi, and even the jazz musician Shelly Manne, created an integrated style for IBM that encompassed stationery, packaging, typography, and graphics; curtains and furniture; typewriters and computers; buildings; gardens and landscapes; showrooms and museum exhibits; and industrial films. Not surprisingly, Harwood focuses on IBM’s own exurban corporate campuses. 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.

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