A New Book: The Goddess – La Déesse

Swiss architect Christian Sumi has just released a new book on the Citroën DS in collaboration with Lars Müller Publishers. It is a new edition of the 2001 “AS in DS” book by Alison and Peter Smithson.

In this new publication, Christian analytically examines the characteristics of the classic DS. Carefully arranged picture series and drawings by Flaminio Bertoni and the Citroën design team show how the DS evolved over its lifespan and the detailing that still makes it so distinctive.

Using advertising images Sumi critically analyzes, in both a contemporary and a philosophical context, the iconization and reception of the Citroën DS, as well as the theories arising from its phenomenal impact.

The DS’s legendary design status is due to three things: Flaminio Bertoni’s design, the media circus that surrounded its unveiling in 1955, and — for the design-obsessive — the car’s inclusion in Roland Barthes’ Mythologies. Barthes declared the DS as the contemporary equivalent of a great gothic cathedral, a ‘purely magical object’ that has ‘fallen from the sky’. And finally there was the name: ‘DS’, a not-so-subtle play on the French word for ‘goddess’, practically demanded one bow down and worship at the car’s technical and aesthetic sophistication.

The final chapter features a series of images taken by Sumi of a DS graveyard in France, showing them being reclaimed by nature.

This new book is perhaps the final word on the creation, status and legacy of a remarkable automobile.

Author: Christian Sumi

With photographs by Michel Zumbrunn, Heinz UngerDesign: Karin Schiesser

24 × 16,5 cm, 9 ½ × 6 ½ in
232 pages, 198 illustrations
Hard cover
2020, 978-3-03778-626-0, English

35,00 €

Christian Sumi

Christian Sumi graduated from the Zurich Polytechnic, where he worked for the Institute of History and Theory of Architecture (gta). He has taught at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design GSD, the Lausanne Polytechnic EPFL and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. From 2008 to 2016 he had a full professorship at the Accademia di Architettura Mendrisio AAM, together with Marianne Burkhalter. Since 1984, Sumi and Burkhalter have been running an architectural practice in Zurich. The firm acquired an international reputation by, among other things, transformations of existing structures, new housing typologies, hotels and innovative wooden constructions and distinctive use of polychrome colors. Sumi also made a number of exhibition installations: “Gottfried Semper” and “Robots” for the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich (2004 and 2009); “The unexpected view” and “Konrad Wachsmann – the Grapevine Structure” for La Biennale di Venice (2014 and 2018).

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