All you need to know about Patented
Uncover more than a century of fascinating product and industrial design history via 1000 design patents
There are rules, when it comes to setting ideas down on paper. For an applicant to lodge a design patent with the United States Patent Office, they must provide a drawing of the invention to which they wish to lay claim. Photographs aren’t generally permitted, and it is conventional to submit a few line renderings, from different angles and perspectives. These images tend to be monochrome, and any shading is light.
Were you to simply read that description, you could probably picture those patent drawings, which have remained remarkably uniform over the decades. However, you certainly won’t have been to readily picture the enormous variety of phones, scooters, pens, kitchen appliances, radios, pens and myriad other consumer durables contained in Patented.
This engrossing, comprehensive new book covers a little over a century of product and industry design history, via 1000 carefully chosen design patents. There are hugely familiar items in here, such as the Vespa Piaggio scooter and the iPhone. The book also includes quite a number of design classics, from such notable creators as Eero Saarinen, Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Ettore Sottsass, Raymond Loewy, and George Nelson.
There are celebrity inclusions, from public figures we don’t readily associate with the drawing board, such as the film director Francis Ford Coppola and the recording artist, Prince. In Patented you’ll find the latter’s design for a guitar reproduced opposite an early mouse design from Apple.
That ordering is important. All the inclusions in Patented are presented in chronological order, starting with a billiards table patented on June 12, 1900 and concluding with a respiratory mask patented on May 26, 2020. In between these there are childhood favourites, office familiars, kitchen staples and workshop essentials.
A few stand out thanks to our unfamiliarity. We know Raymond Loewy classic Greyhound bus, but the ‘air finned smoking pipe’ which also dates from 1941? That looks like something out of a Jetsons episode, rather than the annals of design history.
Both mature scholars of product history and readers a little too young to recall Loewy’s bus will come across many other moments of discovery, intrigue and delight in Patented’s pages. Professional designers and amateur design lovers will understand with greater depth just how their favourite pioneers first imagined their greatest works. For everyone else Patented is a fun, piece-by-piece, object lesson in human creativity, from the steam age through to the digital era. To find out more and to order your copy, take a look at Patented in our store.