Book review: “Manhole Covers Of The World” by Björn Altmann

Summary: Altmann’s book highlights the artistic and cultural significance of manhole covers worldwide, offering a visually rich exploration of their design and historical context.

In “Manhole Covers Of The World,” Björn Altmann presents a unique and insightful perspective into the world of functional and artistic design that most of us tend to overlook. With his careful eye and dedicated attention to detail, Altmann crafts an immersive exploration of a ubiquitous object: the manhole cover.

design as art cover

The book is a vibrant odyssey into the unnoticed art form on our streets. Altmann brings the under appreciated world of manhole covers into sharp focus, delivering a visual banquet through hundreds of illustrations from cities around the globe. The book serves as a love letter to the unusual confluence of practical engineering and unexpected creativity.

The collection begins with an engaging introduction by Altmann, in which he expounds on his fascination with manhole covers. He does not just see them as mere functional tools for urban sanitation but rather as “urban fingerprints” that tell a distinctive tale about a city’s history, identity, and aesthetic. It is this passion that drives the book, propelling it from an assortment of graphic images into a poignant narrative of design evolution.

Altmann presents an array of cover designs, from the ornate and historical to the modern and minimalist, interspersing the images with thoughtful commentary. His introductory analysis dives into various design elements such as shape, material, texture, and typography, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of the art and design aspects of these objects.

The book is intelligently organised by geographical region, allowing readers to understand the cultural nuances that influence the design of manhole covers. For instance, the intricately patterned manhole covers of Japan speak volumes about their cultural reverence for aesthetics, while the more utilitarian designs from the Soviet era tell a different story altogether.

Freelance Web Designer Harrogate - manhole covers of the world 2

“Manhole Covers Of The World” is not just for the design enthusiast but also for those intrigued by urban history and geography. The relationship between a city’s design evolution and its manhole covers is fascinating, and Altmann does a commendable job in mapping these correlations.

One standout feature of the book is the high-quality images. Altmann’s graphics are not merely depictions of their subjects, but art in their own right. He captures each manhole cover with contrasting white spec on a black background; the results are amazing!

It gives the everyday object a new emphasis; like most good art it ascribes meaning to the everyday and banal. However, even those who are new to the world of design can still appreciate the striking visual array and the historical insights offered by the book.

Freelance Web Designer Harrogate - manhole covers of the world 3

Summing Up.

In conclusion, “Manhole Covers Of The World” by Björn Altmann is a captivating exploration of a global design journey, a tribute to the unnoticed beauty under our feet. It presents the mundane and oft-ignored manhole cover in a completely new light, reminding us that art and design are truly everywhere – we just need to look. Altmann’s book is an essential addition to the library of anyone interested in design, urban history, or simply the extraordinary aspects of everyday life.

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