Smithsonian’s “Great Design” Book

A spectacular survey of great moments and individuals in the expansive world of design, from the 1860s onward


Only the Smithsonian Institution could compile a survey of design from the 1860s onward and somehow land every major milestone. Their new book, released this month by DK Publishing, is as comprehensive as it is beautiful. Covering design from across the world, the book incorporates everything from technology to textiles, furniture and industrial design. Full photographic galleries—including detail shots and even sketches—meet insight in this hardcover compendium of vast design world essentials.


A veritable museum for your coffee table, “Great Design” covers more than 100 of the world’s best designs and explains their roots and histories. It takes the time to tell the story behind each iconic piece, with visual analysis and in-depth exploration of the materials and technological innovations that made it all possible. There are also profiles of leading designers and influencers in the field—from Larry Beck (who designed the London Underground map) to Alfonso Bialetti (who designed the iconic Moka Express coffee-maker).

There is a link between the cars passing your office and home, the chair you’re sitting upon and the device you’re reading this on—it’s design. “Great Design” neatly binds this through-line, contextualizes it and offers a reference for beginners looking to learn, experts seeking for inspiration and anyone else with a little design curiosity.

“Great Design” retails for $30 and can be purchased via DK Publishing’s website.

Photos by Greg Stefano