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Hardcover Quintessence: The Quality of Having It Book

ISBN: 1579121500

ISBN13: 9781579121501

Quintessence: The Quality of Having It

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

The perfect coffee table book for those who appreciate the finer elements of ordinary things, this beautifully photographed volume displays with the design flair of a museum show the ultimate iconic items. The thoughtful, intellectual--often irreverent--commentary on these commonplace things alongside the artistic photographs of each--over 75 in total--entertains with the search for soul in products that we know and probably use or have used. Whether...

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

The writing in Quintessence is quintessential.

Buy this book if only for the opening essay, 'Sense and Quintessence', which has to be the most erudite, insightful, historical, philosophical, piece written on the subject. It is, in fact, quintessential. All my life I have recognized 'the thing in and of itself'...the genuine article...the real McCoy...the person or object with real soul. Cornfeld and Owens have given me the words - beautiful words - to describe this instinctual knowledge. This is not to underplay the rest of the book. The essay is transcendent; the rest is stunning. Heinously, on the 1983 publisher's, (Black Dog & Leventhal), website, the book is called a "coffee table" book. That is akin to saying that Kant's Critique of Pure Reason is very good with a lamp set upon it. It is also not a design book, nor a book about over-attachment to material goods. It is about essence as absolute. The book is also great fun and ripe with facts you did not know about some of the most popular products in our culture.

I like this book

We need another book like this. Most design books lack "it".

This book has It

Americans today are sick of things. We've got way too many of them and most of them are utterly useless, oftentimes almost grotesque in their superfluity. A flip side to this overload is that we, especially the younger generation, lose touch with how beautiful and life-enhancing a thing can actually be. We're awash in things, but ignorant of "thingness." In all the rhetoric about possessions not creating happiness--true at bottom but overdone--we're forgetting that, yeah, actually, some things do make me pretty damn happy.This book Quintessence shows us a few of these special things and allows us to enjoy them by pointing them out, and on a more general level the book persuasively argues for a re-appreciation of objects of affection and even of utility. The things shown in this book vary widely--from a brown paper bag to a Harley Davidson to a Camel cigarette to a Keds hightop--all sharing the one common quality of "quintessence," the quality of having it. At least as the authors see "it," that is. Fortunately, they're almost always right. I came across no thing in the book that I rejected as having a classical "thingness" that, once recognized, does work on the senses and can sometimes even bring an unconscious smile to your face. Accompanying the photos of these objects is stylish, flowing prose from Edwards and Cornfeld, both accomplished writers and people of fine taste. Edwards, now a columnist at Forbes ASAP, has written on topics as diverse as men's clothing, technology, office politics and the difference between how West Coasters work vs. New Yorkers, and all of his work exhibits this special talent of searching for, and often finding, the essence of the thing. The book, then, is a joy to read as well as look at the pictures. I came away with a new appreciation for the things I love in life--I remember my fifth-grade red nikes, my Costco-bought Spalding basketball, the Ferrari Testarossa--and I think others who read this book will do the same.Unfortunately, the copy being sold on this website is not up to snuff with the quality of the book itself. There are a couple missprints and the page layout next to the pictures isn't great. The original printing of this book now retails for large sums, sometimes in excess of 700 dollars, and imagining how fine this book well-printed would be offers a clue as to why. For persons of lesser means, however, this copy will do just fine to get the message across: don't forget, amidst plenty, the value and aesthetic pleasure to be gained from one, loved thing.
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