Review of Urban Books: “The Interface: IBM and The Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945-1976.”

Vincent's Victoria (Review of Urban Books)

harwood_interface coverDuring the post-WWII period, IBM instituted a coordinated design program headed by Eliot Noyes, that led to more or less consistent industrial design of computers, architectural design of corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities, and designs of popular exhibits and other computer-human interfaces. In this book, John Harwood sets out to investigate how the design program “elaborated theoretical positions and set standards of practice that quite literally changed the technics of corporate and architectural culture alike.” Although Harwood focuses almost solely on describing and analyzing IBM’s design program, he claims that by doing so, “we may come to understand more about its contemporary corporations that so reshaped the global economy, whether they adopted IBM’s specific approaches to corporate practice or not” (8). The basis of this claim is that IBM was widely influential in the computer and cultural fields in the second half of the twentieth century.

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