Cover image for Dictionary of 20th-century design
Dictionary of 20th-century design
Pile, John F.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Facts on File, 1990.
Physical Description:
viii, 312 pages ; 29 cm
General Note:
"A Roundtable Press book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK1390 .P53 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Comprises some 1,200 alphabetical entries that define, identify, and explain names, terms, and concepts important to 20th century design. Includes 200 b&w illustrations. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Is it Briton or Britisher, Hoosier or Indianian/an? What is someone from Rio de Janeiro called? Why Chicagoan but then Coloradan? These questions are answered in entries for countries, states, and cities, often with reference to authorities (mainly local newspapers, historians, and popular columnists; there are no rules nor even consistent practice), and usually up-to-date (we do have African-American). ``Demonyms'' (author Dickson's coinage) are the names and adjectives derived from place names; thus, Briton (not Britisher) and also British and Britannic. Certainly useful in reference, and an added copy for circulation might be justified.-- William A. Wortman, Miami Univ . Libs., Oxford, Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Pile's cross-section of 20th-century design and designers illustrates the importance of design as a modern expression. He defines design as that which determines the form (shape, size, color, texture, and pattern) of an object whose primary purpose is functional. Topics are chosen from selected categories of interior and industrial design which include furniture, tableware, glass, silver, and graphics. Some related topics in architecture, fashion, and crafts are also included. The 1,000 brief entries give biographical information, dates and importance of the designer, and information on and the importance of such entities as firms, systems, styles, movements, terms, objects, and materials used. The amount of material Pile has to choose from is huge, and his choices are somewhat arbitrary. His stated purpose is duofold: to provide a source of difficult-to-find information and a book to be dipped into at random for use and enjoyment. Sources used are secondary. There is a bibliography of those most commonly used. Random checking found no inaccuracies. It is an attractive book, and its 200 black-and-white illustrations are well chosen and clear. Pile (Pratt Institute) has previously published Design: Purpose, Form and Meaning (CH, Dec'79) and Interior Design (CH, Sep'88). This book cannot replace any existing reference book. Its spread is too broad, with resulting omissions. It can best be used as a supplement to other books such as Contemporary Designers (2nd ed., CH, Apr'91). It can also be used as a sampling of 20th-century design. Recommended for art and design libraries serving advanced undergraduate and graduate students. -P. Brauch, Brooklyn College, CUNY