I Heart Design. No, really I do. I design every day, spend my spare time obsessing about typography, and could never imagine doing anything else. Design holds a near and dear spot in my heart. But this isn’t about me. It’s about a book. I Heart Design by Steven Heller is a collection of, as it boldly proclaims on the cover, “80 remarkable graphic designs”. Each piece of graphic design was selected by a different person, at the request of the author, as something that was unique and influential in their own lives and careers.
The pieces of design were selected by a range of different people and different professions including various designers, illustrators and critics. All of the names are notable, some random excerpts include James Victore, Kelly William Purcell, Rudy Vanderlans, Ivan Chermayeff, George Tscherny, Gail Anderson, Jessica Helfand, and a few selected by Steven Heller himself. Each selected work includes the thoughts of the person whom selected it and, as would be expected with such a range of personalities, the descriptions vary in length from a few paragraphs to a few pages.
The different writing styles of each author and the different lengths of the descriptions make for a nice change in pace as you turn the pages of the book. Some include personal stories about the influence of the piece on the person writing about it while others include details about the specific piece and the designer. The following excerpt is from Reto Caduff’s selection, a poster for Pontresina, designed by Herbert Matter.
With this work, Matter secured himself a place in the graphic design pantheon early on. A few years later, he interviewed with Alexey Brodovitch for a job at Harper’s Bazaar in New York. His Pontresina poster hung on the wall behind Brodovitch’s desk.
I enjoyed the personality that each person brought to the book and the intimacy of some of their stories about the first time they saw the piece they selected and how it affected them. Several designers selected works of their own which I found quite self-indulgent and narcissistic, but design is a very vain profession and it would be ignorant to think otherwise. All of the content was edited by Steven Heller and the book was designed by Rick Landers.
The design of the book is well considered. While the content allows for a nice inconsistent pacing between the many different pieces the longer winded articles are spaced nicely between some of the shorter ones so that the pages keep turning. The page layouts take the same key and while they often share similar structures there is a nice inconsistency to the visual flow that keeps the reader interested. My only complaint with the design was that I did not enjoy the justification of every block of text in the book.
Included with each selection is a small piece of information about the person selecting it, which is always nice for the inquisitive reader. While many of the selected designs were familiar faces and old favorites there were quite a few that were new to me and I would encourage all designers to pick up a copy of the book as it will likely expose you to some influential pieces of design that you have never seen before.
About the Reviewer Dominic Flask is a designer by nature, a teacher by application and a thoughtful companion by friendship. You can find his work here, his thoughts here, and his passion on Design is History.