Issue #19 May 2006

Design books that inspire us

Massive Change

by Bruce Mau

A showcase for how the world's leading designers, architects, scientists, and free thinkers are using their ideas and design to solve the problems that affect us globally. What Mau calls "the power and promise of design." He organizes these subject areas into economies--from urban economies to energy economies, and even information economies, where he includes free software and Linux movements and the new technology culture built around sharing. Changing the world? Definitely.


by Tom Peters

Design just for designers? Not any more. Across every department, companies are realizing there is something to be learned from the lessons of design. Consider this your textbook. Loaded with wisdom and Peters' trademark "!" writing style: Lots of E-N-E-R-G-Y, sentence fragments, creative punctuation... This book can get anyone excited about design, regardless of their day job.

Problem Solved: A Primer for Design and Communication

by Michael Johnson

Much of design is based on a problem. Whether it's a company wanting to change their image through a new logo or repackaging, or activists wanting to rally people behind a cause. When the problem is clear, the answers get clearer, too. This book shows how impressive the results can be.

The Art of Looking Sideways

by Alan Fletcher

An impressively heavy book with a treasure of ideas, quotations, and new perspectives on the world. Keep this book nearby. If you're looking for inspiration, flip to any page, and chances are that you'll find it. If that doesn't work and you get desperate, pick up the book and beat yourself on the head until you come up with something brilliant. It's a big book, so this works well.

Brand Gap

by Mary Neumeier

Brands are bigger than logos. Bigger than advertising slogans. What Neumeier demonstrates here is a unified perspective of a brand. A pretty compelling story for anyone building a brand or even the curious.

Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm

by Tom Kelley, Jonathan Littman

IDEO's general manager shares the secrets of design firm IDEO from an insider's perspective. How they collaborate. How they generate ideas. And the stories behind how the products you use every day came to be.

Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative

by Edward R. Tufte

Stunningly presented. Meticulously researched. So impressive only the largest multi-syllabic adjectives can describe them. "Visual Explanations" is one of three books in the series--but really, it's rare that we've seen people buy one of the books and not eventually buy all three. I mean, how can you not love a guy who rails against PowerPoint? Our hero.

Tibor Kalman, Perverse Optimist

by Tibor Kalman

One of the world's most influential designers. Also the founding editor-in-chief of Benetton's "Colors" magazine. Kalman leads us through an overview of his work, and along the way shares the role of the designer and his unique way of looking at things.

It's Not How Good You Are, But How Good You Want To Be


Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite

by Paul Arden

Two favorites. They may not necessarily classify as design books, but you can tell a designer had a hand in them, blending clever photography and smart, short copy. Arden's books are about having the courage to push the limits of your creativity and become great. Motivational books for people who hate motivational books. The first book, "It's not how good you are, but how good you want to be," is subtitled, "The world's bestselling book by Paul Arden." Not yet, but it deserves to be.

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