Ellen Lupton, contemporary-design curator at the Cooper-Hewitt and director of the graphic design MFA program at MICA, has built a career on bringing design thinking to the masses. Her 2004 book Thinking with Type is now a curriculum standard for anyone learning about typography. D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself, co-authored with her graduate students at MICA, explains basic design to a general audience. And D.I.Y. Kids, written with her twin sister, Julia, does the same thing for the younger set. The Lupton sisters teamed up again for Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things, out today from St. Martin’s Griffin. The book began as a blog where Ellen and Julia ruminated about everything from toasters to buying the right bra. Entries were often illustrated with Ellen’s signature paintings of objects, which also appear in the book. “Design, we argue, is more than the stuff you buy at high-end stores or the modern look that moves products at Target and IKEA,” the sisters write on the blog. “Design is critical thinking. It is a way of looking at the world and wondering why things work, and why they don’t.”
Design your Life is all about how people forge personal connections with common objects. With that in mind, we sent Ellen Lupton into some of Manhattan’s finest thrift stores to see what everyday pleasures she might find in others’ cast-off goods.
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