Top This and Other Parables of Design

Selected Writings by Phil Patton


Published to coincide with a memorial for the late design writer Phil Patton, this is a compilation of 38 of his incisive and witty essays on design.

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ISBN: 9781942303152 Category:

Phil Patton


In September 2015 the world lost Phil Patton – prolific design writer, teacher and tantalizing wordsmith. Patton’s insatiable curiosity, sense of humour and keen eye made for the most compelling reads. Whether he was chronicling design minutiae, quirky anecdotes or bizarre tales, Phil’s hundreds of books, columns, articles and posts always delivered a new account. As his editor at i-D magazine, Chee Pearlman, said, ‘His insight takes the reader beyond the object to an understanding of its broadest sociological context’. No topic eluded him, and for a large part of his 40-year career he championed automobiles, technology and product design. Roger Black, designer, writer and long-time colleague and friend of Patton’s wrote, ‘He taught the New York Times – by example – to cover design. The domino effect, the rest of the media followed.’

With an introduction by Edward Tufte and foreword by Caroline Baumann, this volume compiles 40 selections representing the wide range of interests and fascinations that occupied his thoughts. Punctuated by images of ideas and lists from notebooks he carried everywhere, Top This and Other Parables of Design is an intimate and portable companion for those who choose to always have a witty, informed friend around.

Additional information

Weight 236 g
Dimensions 10.9 x 17.8 cm
Publisher name Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Publication date 1 July 2017
Number of pages 296
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 10.9 x 17.8 cm
Weight 236 g
Phil Patton (1952-2015) was a design journalist, curator and author. He wrote regularly about automobile design for the New York Times. His books include Open Road: A Celebration of The American Highway; Made in USA: The Secret Histories of the Things that Made America; Bug, a cultural history of the Volkswagen Beetle; and Dreamland, about the culture of experimental aircraft. Caroline Baumann became the Director of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in 2013. Edward Tufte is a statistician and professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University. He is noted for his writings on information design and as a pioneer in the field of data visualization.