Design By Accident: For a New History of Design
Sternberg Press, 2019
In Design by Accident, Alexandra Midal declares the autonomy of design, in and on its own terms. This meticulously researched work proposes not only a counterhistory but a new historiography of design, shedding light on overlooked historical landmarks and figures while reevaluating the legacies of design’s established luminaries from the nineteenth century to the present. Midal rejects both linear narratives of progress and the long-held perception of design as a footnote to the histories of fine art and architecture. By weaving critical analysis of the canon of design history and theory together, with special attention to the writings of designers themselves, she draws out the nuances and radical potentials of the discipline—from William Morris’s ambivalence toward industry, to Catharine Beecher’s proto-feminist household appliances, to the Bauhaus’s Expressionist origins, and the influence of Herbert Marcuse on Joe Colombo.