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Ever wonder how we know the answers to so many obscure questions? It's because we have a library of over 18,000 books. But for questions about 20th-century objects or artists, we do research on the Internet or turn to a book published after 2000. "When was Formica first made?" Answer: 1913. "Are Charles and Ray Eames related?" Answer: The famous American furniture designers were husband and wife. Ray is the nickname for Bernice. The Design Encyclopedia by Mel Byars (Museum of Modern Art, NY, $65, c2004) supplies those answers and a lot more. It's 832 pages of information about makers, designers, styles, materials, and more. An important source of facts about modern design.

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