The Substance of Style

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Mar 17, 2009 - 272 pages
22 Reviews

Whether it's sleek leather pants, a shiny new Apple computer, or a designer toaster, we make important decisions as consumers every day based on our sensory experience. Sensory appeals are everywhere, and they are intensifying, radically changing how Americans live and work. The twenty-first century has become the age of aesthetics, and whether we realize it or not, this influence has taken over the marketplace, and much more.

In this penetrating, keenly observed book, Virginia Postrel makes the argument that appearance counts, that aesthetic value is real. Drawing from fields as diverse as fashion, real estate, politics, design, and economics, Postrel deftly chronicles our culture's aesthetic imperative and argues persuasively that it is a vital component of a healthy, forward-looking society.

Intelligent, incisive, and thought-provoking, The Substance of Style is a groundbreaking portrait of the democratization of taste and a brilliant examination of the way we live now.

  

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Great read for insights into modern consumer culture. - Goodreads
Very interesting premise, too thin on material. - Goodreads
This isn't a bad book and Postrel is a gifted writer. - Goodreads

Review: The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness

User Review  - Dana Kraft - Goodreads

For me, this book brought some depth to a subject that I am usually too quick to dismiss. The quote that still rings in my head is "There's a difference between a large market and a mass market." Read full review

Review: The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness

User Review  - Julia - Goodreads

I thought this would be a very fluffy book, and the first chapter, which talked about how many colours you can make in plastic, confirmed my fears. However, after that, I found the book quite ... Read full review

Contents

T HE RISE OF LOOK AND FEEL
34
SURFACE AND SUBSTANCE
66
MEANINGFUL LOOKS
93
THE BOUNDARIES OF DESIGN
122
SMART AND PRETTY
164
Notes
193
Acknowledgments
229
Copyright

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Popular passages

Page 245 - But if ever this infirmity of philosophers is to be suspected on any occasion, it is in their reasonings concerning human life, and the methods of attaining happiness. In that case they are led astray, not only by the narrowness of their understandings, but by that also of their passions.
Page 113 - The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced.
Page 97 - By the very simple device of building our new buildings in the Tudor Gothic style we seem to have added to Princeton the age of Oxford and of Cambridge ; we have added a thousand years to the history of Princeton by merely putting those lines in our buildings which point every man's imagination to the historic traditions of learning in the English-speaking race.
Page 244 - There is one mistake, to which they seem liable, almost without exception ; they/ confine too much their principles, and make no account of that vast variety, which nature has so much affected in all her operations. When a philosopher has once laid hold of a favourite principle, which perhaps accounts for many natural effects, he extends the same principle over the whole creation, and reduces to it every phenomenon, though by the most violent and absurd reasoning. Our own mind being narrow and contracted...
Page 210 - Each one began to look at the others and to want to be looked at himself, and public esteem had a value. The one who sang or danced the best, the handsomest, the strongest, the most adroit or the most eloquent became the most highly regarded. And this was the first step toward inequality and, at the same time, toward vice.
Page 142 - The problem which we face in dealing with actions which have harmful effects is not simply one of restraining those responsible for them. What has to be decided is whether the gain from preventing the harm is greater than the loss which would be suffered elsewhere as a result of stopping the action which produces the harm.

References to this book

Everyday Aesthetics
Yuriko Saito
No preview available - 2007
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About the author (2009)

Virginia Postrel writes an economics column for the New York Times and is the author of The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress. She lives in Dallas, Texas.

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