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Axel Brechensbauer

Things We Create

On sale date: July 12, 2022

A visual guide to fascinating historical facts and philosophical musings on why and how the objects we buy, own, use, see and interact with — from tanks to iPhones — come into existence.

We all live in a world of objects, yet we rarely stop to think about how and why they came to exist, why they look and feel the way they do, or what shapes our preferences and why we own and use the ones we do. In Things We Create, renowned concept designer, cartoonist, and sculptor Axel Brechensbauer pulls back the curtain and provides a visual guide to civilization's endless quest for the perfect human-made object.

Told in eight chapters covering topics such as "The Need of Objects," "Recreating Nature, "Objects as Communication," and "Objects as Power," Brechensbauer takes the reader on a rollicking tour through the history and creation of objects that comprise our world. He digs into the basics of design, discusses why certain some objects please us while others repel us, considers how the design of one object influences another, reveals how human curiosity keeps in step with technology. He answers questions such as, what makes objects so pleasing to use? Why do we create objects that are so contrary to those that appear in nature? What's the difference between an object that fills an emotional need and one that fulfills a practical one? What determines if a piece of furniture is a copy, an artifact, or art? What is the relationship between shape and emotion?

Told with visual verve, wit, humor, and, above all, clarity, Things We Create is both a history of and a metaphysical study of physical objects — all the stuff we buy, we use, we collect, we need. As befits a book about the beauty and utility of objects, Things We Create is itself both a beautifully designed and executed object and an immensely fun and readable series of comics and diagrams.


"A designer, cartoonist and sculptor presents a dynamic and witty history of the objects that constitute our world, accounting for beauty and utility." — The New York Times

"Things We Create is an enjoyable fresh experience as a graphic novel, fascinating for raising questions most readers have probably never considered, and if so, not beyond the obvious function." — The Slings and Arrows


Paperback / Softback
6.6" × 9.1"