I Seem To Be A Verb by R. Buckminster Fuller
I Seem To Be a Verb focuses on what’s now known as “sustainable design.” The book is a collage of images, bite-size facts, and provocative, inspirational notions by an expanse of artists, musicians, astrophysicists, mathematicians, politicians, and others… which is why my copy’s pages came to fall out of their binding over the past 40-plus years. Fuller himself provides the main narrative, which includes his philosophies—such as “When man learned to do more with less it was his lever to industrial success”—his predictions, such as “When automation frees all workers we will be able to ask, ‘What was it I was thinking that fascinated me so, before I was told I had to do something else in order to make a living?’” And, yes, it’s also a time capsule of 1960s utopian idealism.
Here’s Steven Heller on the designer, Quentin Fiore:
Fiore, who was born in New York in 1920, had been a student of George Grosz (like Paul Rand) at the Art Student’s League and Hans Hoffman at the Hoffman School. His interest in classical drawing, paper making, and lettering attested to a respect for tradition. He began his career before World War II as a letterer for, among others, Lester Beall (for whom he designed many of the modern display letters used in his ads and brochures before modern typefaces became widely available in the U.S.), Condé Nast, Life, and other magazines (where he did hand-lettered headlines for editorial and advertising pages). Fiore abandoned lettering to become a generalist and for many years designed all the printed matter for the Ford Foundation in a decidedly modern but not rigidly ideological style. Since he was interested in the clear presentation of information, he was well suited as a design consultant to various university presses, and later to Bell Laboratories (for whom he designed the numbers on one of Henry Dreyfuss’ rotary dials). In the late 1960s he also worked on Homefax, a very early telephone fax machine developed by RCA and NBC. It was never marketed, but Fiore coordinated an electronic newspaper that would appear on a screen and be reproduced via a sophisticated electrostatic copying process.
Fiore’s acute understanding of technology came from this and other experiences. In an article he wrote in 1971 on the future of the book, Fiore predicted the widespread use of computer-generated design, talking computers, and home fax and photocopy technologies. He also predicted the applications of the computer in primary school education long before its widespread use; accordingly, in 1968 he designed 200 computerlike “interactive” books for school children to help increase literacy skills.
See also: The Medium is the Massage