The Language of Things, By Deyan Sudjic

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The Independent Culture

"How We Are Seduced by the Objects around Us," declares the cover. To this end, Penguin commissioned a special design for this book from an outfit called YES. The result is a small-format paperback with a tiny, hard-to-read typeface.

The book's illegibility is compounded by Sudjic's idiosyncrasies ("I can hear Switzerland when I look at Helvetica"), opaque mode of expression and overstatements.

Sudjic claims that Dieter Rams's attempt to ensure that the design of a brief-lived calculator went "beyond fashion and time" induces "almost unbearable pathos".

But the most unpalatable aspect of this book is the price. Presumably on the grounds that design fans can afford it, Penguin has overpriced it by at least £3. This reader remained resolutely unseduced.