what can your toaster teach you?

Design your Life

“Design Your Life is an utter pleasure, like a delicious tray of warm brownies that also happen to be nutritious.” – Kurt Andersen, author


Design is not my thing.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’d sooner jump out of a plane than wander through a shop like Target or IKEA where rows and rows of modern gadgets remind me that I’m just not chic enough.  I have a feeling I’m not the only one.  So in my search for uniqueness in an overwhelmingly mass-produced world, I found Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things by Ellen and Julia Lupton (St. Martin’s Press, May 2009). 


Ellen and Julia argue that design is more than the stuff we buy at these high end stores or the modern look that moves products at Target and IKEA.  It’s about critical thinking and looking at the world and wondering why things work and why they don’t.  It’s about finding the beauty in the mess of everyday life. 


Covering the pitfalls of the modern toaster, the challenges of a ‘smart’ kitchen, what’s wrong with rolling luggage, and why no one wants to read your blog, this thoughtful book examines the highs and lows of everyday design in a brainy and delightful way that is sure to leave you thinking differently.


And now Affiliates can have the opportunity to meet Ellen Lupton in person!  Ellen is curator of contemporary design at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City and director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.  She is interested in traveling to Affiliates to speak about design to anyone who will listen.  Contact your Smithsonian Affiliations Outreach Manager today to see about inviting Ellen to your museum.


Read the review in the Washington Post.  Or even better, read the blog that inspired the book.