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Rethink

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by Tom Dixon. Conran Octopus, 2000. £22.50

'How many more shapes do we need a chair to be?' asks Tom Dixon in Rethink. He urges us to embrace design in its purest form, celebrating the anonymous designers of industrial products who are driven by function rather than image, writes Victoria Nowell.

The book's pages are made up of product shots lifted directly from their original supply catalogues (boiler suited models included), interspersed with artfully styled interior sets trying hard to look effortless. As in a catalogue, each product comes with its own description, listing materials, dimensions and supplier. Each product's intended function is stated (tyre inner tube, plan chest and so on) and then comes the 'rethink' (seating, bed base etc). The book's own rethink is its mdf covers, making it a coffee table book in the truest sense.

While some of the ideas are more inspired than others, (it doesn't take a genius to realise that a child's school chair can also be used as domestic seating), the book's core issue of stripping design right back to its bones is important nonetheless.

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