Hello World

Hello World

Where Design Meets Life

  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781468309300
  • 288 Pages
  • Overlook Books
  • Adult


It is often said that we are living in a new golden age of design. Our gadgets, appliances, and cars are sleeker and more elegant than they’ve ever been; in our free time, we trawl the internet for pictures of flawless minimalist interiors; and even the great industrialist of our time—Steve Jobs—is admired more for his visual savvy than his technological inventiveness.

And yet with Instagram and Pinterest at our fingers and great design more available—and more affordable—than ever, we’ve had no guidebook to this ever-fascinating field. Though it’s an inescapable part of our lives, there has been no single book that could, in one fell swoop, tell us everything we need to know about design.

Enter Hello World.

The design critic for the International Heard Tribune, Alice Rawsthorn has spent many years reckoning with the history of design and with its place in contemporary life, and Hello World is the extraordinary summation of her research and reporting.

Rawsthorn takes us on a trip through design that ranges across continents and centuries, and wherever she goes, she discovers inspiring, thrilling examples of resourcefulness, inventiveness, and sheer vision. From the macabre symbol with which eighteenth-century pirates terrorized their victims into surrender, to one woman’s quest for the best prosthetic legs, to the evolution of the World Cup soccer ball, Hello World describes how warlords, scientists, farmers, hackers, activists, and professional designers have used the complex, often elusive process of design to different ends throughout history.

Hailed as a “rapid-fire and illuminating ode to contemporary design” (Telegraph) and “an extremely readable tour of the subject” (Financial Times), Hello World is a major work that radically broadens our understanding of what design can mean, and explains how we can use it to make sense of our ever-changing universe.


Hello World maps and describes contemporary design with flair, passion, clarity and perspective, smartly connecting its most technologically advanced ‘mutant’ expressions with centuries-old examples and thus with tradition. We were all missing this book. Alice Rawsthorn has succeeded where everyone else has failed: she has written a page-turner about design.” —Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art
“Panoramic in scope, passionately argued and highly addictive to read, Hello World is an indispensable guide to design. Seamlessly integrating vivid accounts of contemporary practice with historic precedents, Alice Rawsthorn’s book will be an essential reference for decades to come. Hello World is an invaluable toolbox for the twenty-first century.” —Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-director of the Serpentine Gallery, London
Praise for Yves Saint Laurent
“As gripping as a thriller, packed with plot, character and atmosphere.” —The Times
“Rawsthorn’s excellent biography isn’t merely a story about clothes, but of crises, comebacks and drug clinics, and as a document of the time it is compulsive.” —Evening Standard
“The best book I have ever read about the mesmerizing cruelty of fashion.” —The Spectator
“Intelligent and pragmatic . . . This is a page-turner of a book.” —New Statesman

“In a world saturated with ill-considered things, Hello World is a real wakeup call: a diverse and impassioned survey of why design matters. And Alice Rawsthorn practices what she preaches. Her on-point writing marries beautifully with Irma Boom’s typography, resulting in a truly satisfying object.”—Glenn Adamson, director of the Museum of Art and Design, New York

“Alice Rawsthorn constructs a meticulous living history of design, bridging the everyday and the extraordinary with equal parts precision and poetics.”—Maria Popova, founder and editor of BrainPickings.org

“Making links across centuries of life-enhancing designs, and taking on the difficult task of defining the expansive world of contemporary design, Hello World is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the complex but essential role that design plays in daily life.” —Zoë Ryan, John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design, The Art Institute of Chicago