design research

i am reading a wonderful new book:
design research: the store that brought modern living to american homes.

'design research', which was started in 1953 in cambridge, massachusetts, sold colorful, eclectic, warm and inviting, modern european design products to furnish the modern homes being built all over the us. founder ben thompson, by 1953 a famous architect working with walter gropius, created d/r as a "response to a historic moment-in-time of national human and social need for homemaking". he felt that home should include art, that the useful objects of our daily lives should be beautiful, and that these products should be accessible to everybody.

'design research' changed the face of modern design, and certainly changed the way homewares were retailed. everyone who came after-- terrence conran, 'design within reach', 'crate and barrel'--were deeply affected by ben thompson's style and philosophy. i grew up visiting their glass building in cambridge (which housed 'crate and barrel' after d/r closed in 1978, and now houses 'anthropologie'). and d/r's products furnished my parents' home-- what stylish house in the 60's and 70's didn't have a 'chemex' glass coffee pot?

in our little shop we do not operate in a vacuum-- we are part of a larger world and a larger history-- and we are grateful.


ruyi houseware said...

it's a wonderful book really!

shopgirl said...

yes-- good to be reminded of the greatness of that store!

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