A Thing of Beauty Is A Joy Forever: A Fascinating New Monograph Explores the Life and Work of Underrated British Designer James Irvine

A fascinating new monograph, published by Phaidon, explores the life and work of design legend James Irvine (1958–2013). Indeed, you may not know Irvine by name, but his designs have had a profound influence in the world of both home furnishing as well as technology – he has also had a profound impact on other designers. On top of a beautiful offering of unpublished sketches and images from Irvine’s archives, this new comprehensive tome also includes texts and narratives by contemporary designers who were friends and that worked closely with the iconoclastic designer. For instance, Jasper Morrison tells the story of going to school with Irvine at the Royal Academy of Art and learning of his move to Milan to work for Olivetti – there is also a story about Irvine falling out of a window naked in Barcelona. Another designer, Naoto Fukasawa talks about meeting one of Irvine’s chairs before actually meeting the man – and based on the lines of the chair having a prescient notion of the designer’s friendliness as a person. There is also a great dialogue between Marc Newson, who recently signed on as a design consultant for Apple, and design critic Francesca Picchi on Irvine’s contributions to Olivetti and Toshiba – namely a computer device that looks like an iPad, well before its invention.  From his early work with Ettore Sottsass’ “Associati” to his more mature works for Japanese home and office goods retailer Muji, like a USB powered desk fan or a simple aluminum pen case, this monograph may be the corner piece that helps complete  the jigsaw puzzle of contemporary commercial design. The book is available to purchase here. Follow Autre on Instagram for updates: @autremagazine