cover image Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life and Maybe Even the World

Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life and Maybe Even the World

Warren Berger, . . Penguin Press, $27.95 (342pp) ISBN 978-1-59420-233-9

Humanity's problems can be designed away with ingenious products and catchy marketing, according to this giddy manifesto. Journalist Berger (Advertising Today ) channels the insights of celebrity designer Bruce Mau, whose grandiose projects—he's helping the University of Arizona to “reinvent higher education”—yield such pensées as “everything communicates.” He distills Mau's wisdom into high-concept “glimmer principles,” including “work the metaphor” and “design for emergence,” and applies them to everything from disaster relief to personal life. Berger tries to both abstract and systematize the process of innovative design and to give it a populist spin: you don't need expertise or money to solve problems, just optimism, an attentive eye and a childlike readiness to “Ask Stupid Questions.” Nifty gadgets are showcased, including a nut-sheller for Third World farmers and a wheelchair that climbs stairs. But much of the book is just a retread of self-help bromides (“you have to be willing to grow”) and familiar business buzz concepts, one that treats a pet food company's promotion of an international holiday for dogs as a humanitarian crusade. The result is an overhyped brief for a shallow approach to the world's ills. (Oct.)