Design experts Bayley (Imagination, General Knowledge) and Conran (Ultimate House Book, Designers on Design, etc) offer readers a crash course in design in this impressive, coffee-table-ready resource. After a brief narrative history of design from the 18th century to the present (the rise of consumerism and mass production, the Arts and Crafts movement, the Bauhaus ethic, etc.), the design and pop culture heavyweights delve into an alphabetical listing of design figures, themes and products. The artful confluence of the societal, artistic and architectural is what sets the book apart: rather than relying on key figures, Conran and Bayley's wide net enables the reader to see both the forest and the trees, no small achievement. Though the sheer number of subjects restricts most entries to a paragraph or two, this is no staid or simplistic survey; Conran and Bayley inject plenty of colorful editorial comments, characterizing fashion icon Pierre Cardin, for example, by his ""monomania,"" which can ""infuriate or bore."" The book assumes a familiarity with most styles and designers, though movements such as surrealism and modernism are well-explained. Bayley and Conran's experience with and enthusiasm for the material, coupled with up-to-the-minute coverage (the iPhone is included), make this a thoughtful contemporary look at an often mercurial subject. Color photos and illus. throughout.