If there is a problem with some of Taschen's "Icon" series books, it can be that they're just too brief a glimpse at too large a topic. This can particularly be the case when the Icon book is excerpted from a much larger Taschen book study, as with their Tiki book or their great series of American ads of decades from the 1920s to 1980s.
In this case, the format works well, because it is such a small topic; product design in East Germany, which was the most technologically advanced, and consumer friendly, of the Communist nations. Coming out of the Third Reich and before that the Weimar Republik, I'd say that East Germany was also the most aesthetically forward-thinking Communist nation. This led to a fasinating mesh of Soviet austerity with German design.
What you get here is a good 100+ pages of photos of consumer items made in the DDR from the end of the cold war to the fall of the wall, give or take a year or so. The photography is up to Taschen's usual exquisite standards, and it may just be reading too much into it, but it seems Taschen will always try a little harder when it relates to things German.
As an American looking at these images I have a sense of being nostalgic for something I never experienced (If there is a word for such a feeling, it is most likely a German word). Soap, toothpaste, appliances, food and drink... These items seem to have come from a parallel universe - not just different, as products in Western Europe from the same time would have been, but with that slightly cheap, inferior quality: that "just off" feel about it, that you know would have been evident in the taste and feel of these items as well.
It is good that the images are of the products themselves, and not taken directly from advertisements for such products, which would cast it all in a different light. The other great thing is that these items could easily just slip away from all counsciousness, since we don't value recent history much in our culture. Taschen preserves a great number of fine examples here, many of which could easily have slipped away forever.
Of the many fine Icon books Taschen has released, this one seems more complete, and properly fitted to the small, cheap, functional format. Ausgezeichnet!