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Elizabeth Kramer

St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Member since February 13, 2008

  • 22184919_177_

    The dictionary is such a ubiquitous object that few people stop to consider its form and function and the design choices that went into its creation. It is, however, a highly designed book, including many special features that are only applicable to the dictionary’s function. Looking at the dictionary as a designer, I break it down into the choices that were made that led to its form, material, aesthetics and other characteristics.

    It’s important to note that the fact that these “choices” were made does not mean they were designed or made intentionally. Many designed objects retain forms or features that are vestigial to previous functions, or maintain particular characteristics as a result of unintentioned decisions on the part of some other designer. When evaluating an object as a designer, however, the intention and nature by which these came to be is much less important than the fact that they are represented in the object itself.

    The first thing I notice about the dictionary is its function. A dictionary is meant to hold words. Well, a lot of words. Its size and shape are descendants of this purpose, as is many of its materials. Since it must hold so many words, it must be large enough to accommodate them, but small enough to make it functional as a useable book. Usable books must usually be much smaller than the user, and lightweight enough to move around, and most dictionaries fit this bill (although the OED often has its own designed accoutrements ...