Penny Sparke is one of the prominent specialists in the field of the modern art and design, whose critical works are renowned by many professionals, artists and designers. At the same time, her views were traditionally original while her writing style made the audience truly interested in the modern design and art. The life and work of Penny Sparke are dedicated to the research and understanding of modern design and its evolution in the course of the history.
Also, it is important to underline the fact that the life of Penny Sparke, her background, produced a significant impact on her critical work and professional career.
First of all, it should be said that Penny Sparke was born in 1948 in London. She had been interested in the study of art since her childhood. No wonder she dedicated her life to the work in the field of art and design. At the same time, she had managed to get a solid academic basis for she studied French literature at Sussex University between 1967 and 1971 and completed her philosophy degree in Design History in 1975 (Banham, 227). In such a way, her education laid the solid foundation for her work as a critic and enlarged consistently her knowledge and understanding of design.
She proved to be extremely interested in design and she always attempted to enlarge her knowledge in this field. She conducted researches on the basis of which she has already published fifteen books about the 20th century design. In actuality, this is the evidence of her profound interest to this subject. However, she did not research modern design for the design’s sake or simply for her scientific advancements. In fact, she was really enthusiastic about spreading information about the 20th century design and educating people, many of whom were apparently disenchanted in the modern design, which was deprived of ascetics typical for the classical epoch. In such a context, it seems to be quite natural that she taught Design History at Brighton Polytechnic until 1982 and at the Royal College of Art since 1982 (Hine, 185).
Among the most popular and renowned works written by Penny Sparke, it is possible to name the following: “An Introduction to Design and Culture in the 20th century”¯, “Consultant Design: The History and Practice of The Designer in Industry”¯, “Modern Furniture”¯, “Japanese Design”¯, “A Century of Design: Design Pioneers of the Twentieth Century”¯, “An Introduction to Design and Culture (1900 to Present)”¯, “The Modern Interior”¯ and others.
In her works, she researched in depth the history of design and peculiarities of design of different cultures and different periods, mainly focusing on the 20th century design. Her writing style is quite original since she manages to combine a well-written, literary work with comprehensible and easy to read style, which makes her book interesting not only to professionals but also to the mass audience and all those people who may be interested in design and its evolution in the 20th century. At the same time, the author supports her own ideas and judgments with researches conducted by other respectable specialists. In addition, she perfectly uses scientific style, which she skillfully intertwines with conventional, comprehensible writing that prevents her books from being overwhelmed with scientific terms and maintains the interest of readers.
Thus, the contribution of Penny Sparke in the study of the 20th century design can hardly be underestimated.