News Releases

Cooper-Hewitt Launches DesignFile Publishing Initiative

January 8, 2013

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum today announced the launch of DesignFile, a new line of e-books on design writing and research published in consortium with academic and institutional partners. The line will release at least six to 12 titles annually during its first three years. Among the three publications to be released Feb. 1 are Design Cult by Steven Heller, The Miser’s Purse by Laura Camerlengo and Hacking Design by Avinash Rajagopal, all of which are priced at $2.99. DesignFile is the latest publishing initiative of Cooper-Hewitt, following the establishment of an independent publishing imprint in 2006.

“Through DesignFile, Cooper-Hewitt is able to reach new audiences who want great design content quickly on a mobile device—the devoted groups who are passionate about design practice, theory and the pure aesthetics,” said Caroline Baumann, acting director of Cooper-Hewitt. “By partnering with universities whose graduate students generate much of this cutting-edge thought, this new publishing platform will broadly increase public access to design scholarship and resources.”

DesignFile will feature a wide range of books, from short, text-only works to full-length illustrated publications. The text-only books will disseminate specific ideas and research to a specialist audience, while the illustrated books will treat broader subjects and offer enhancements such as embedded audiovisual and multimedia files. All DesignFile publications will be formatted as EPUB 2.0 files and accessible through any e-book reader. DesignFile will be produced and distributed by ARTBOOK | D.A.P.

Inaugural members of the design e-book consortium are Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Parsons The New School for Design and the School of Visual Arts. Participating institutions will publish writings from faculty and alumni on an array of design fields and disciplines, as well as the best masters’ theses in design. Cooper-Hewitt will contribute works on its innovative exhibitions, collection and conservation research, education programs, and texts by winners, finalists and jurors of the prestigious National Design Awards.

In Design Cult, Heller reaches into the most contemplative recesses of his mind to offer an entertaining new collection of ruminations on the nature and future of design. A renowned designer, author, critic, co-chair, MFA Design Department, School of Visual Arts and National Design Award recipient, Heller expounds on such disparate topics as Milton Glaser, Japanese masks, velvet touch lettering, anthropomorphism and people in glass apartments.

The Miser’s Purse, originally written by Camerlengo as a thesis for the Parsons/Cooper-Hewitt Master’s program, tells the compelling story of how a small, decorative purse became deeply embedded in 19th-century Victorian popular culture. Known at the time as long purses, gentlemen’s purses or simply purses, they came to be called miser’s purses because their diminutive openings made it difficult to retrieve coins. The e-book contains 29 images and a video of the author demonstrating how to use a miser’s purse.

Originally written by Rajagopal as a thesis for the School of Visual Arts Master’s of Fine Arts program in design criticism, Hacking Design examines both common histories and persisting misunderstandings between hackers and designers and uncovers shared ground on which the two creative communities can work together. Rajagopal nimbly skips between the computer and design communities, from Makerbot to the Hacking Ikea site, from 3-D printing to DIY, providing 23 illustrated examples.

DesignFile is the latest addition to a robust series of initiatives and partnerships undertaken to broaden digital access to the collection and transform the museum’s website into a leading design research and educational resource. In 2012, Cooper-Hewitt announced the release of its collection dataset, becoming one of the larger contributors to Google Art Project, contributed collections to Art.sy and launched the Object of the Day website feature.

About the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Founded in 1897, Cooper-Hewitt is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational programs, exhibitions and publications.

Cooper-Hewitt’s main facility, housed in the Carnegie Mansion, is undergoing renovation as part of a $64 million capital campaign that includes enlarged and enhanced facilities for exhibitions, collections display, education programming and the National Design Library, and an increased endowment. During the mansion renovation, Cooper-Hewitt’s usual schedule of exhibitions, education programs and events are being staged at various off-site locations.

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