Paul Rand: Conversations with Students

What would Paul Rand have been like as a teacher? He was renowned for his stinging critiques ornery manner, yet in Paul Rand: Conversations with Students (Amazon: US|CA|UK|DE) Philip Burton chooses the word ‘compassionate’ to describe him. It seems that almost all of Rand’s students have praise for his brutal honesty and integrity. As painful as it might have been to receive those lessons at the time, they came from Rand’s heartfelt desire to pass on what he had learned...

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Designing Design

“Creativity is to discover a question that has never been asked. If one brings up an idiosyncratic question, the answer he gives will necessarily be unique as well.” – Kenya Hara, Designing Design. This philosophy is the thread that runs through the entire text of Kenya Hara’s deep and thoughtful book, Designing Design (Amazon: US|CA|UK|DE). The book begins with several exhibitions that Hara organised and for which he devised the question that should be answered. For...

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The Design Entrepreneur: Turning Graphic Design into Goods that Sell

Guest review by Colin Ford Clients blow. Designers the world over know this to be the unfortunate truth. Clients come to you for your artistic vision and then try to drag your design back into mediocrity by insisting that 12-point Times New Roman be used for all body copy, or that their second cousin thinks chartreuse would be a better color for the packaging. With their new book, Steven Heller and Lita Talarico tell you to say to hell with clients and their second cousins – you should be...

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Designing the Mentoring Stamp

In an age of Twitter, texting, e-mail and barcodes, the humble postage stamp is in danger of dying out. Yet the stamp has been a tiny canvas for artists and designers to disseminate their work to one of the largest and certainly the broadest of audiences for decades. Designing the Mentoring Stamp by Lance Hidy is designed, delicately typset and published by the independent Kat Ran Press. Much like the stamp itself, this slim volume is an insightful journey into Hidy’s creative process.

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Tangible: High Touch Visuals

“Remember the small, cheeky, hand-scribbled notes that were reproduced on a photo or poster design? Those with the simple message: “I was here!” Indicating that someone actually worked with the photo and that these are their thoughts.” – from the Preface to Tangible: High Touch Visuals. In such a digitally dominant world, Gestalten’s new book, Tangible: High Touch Visuals, is a reminder of the pleasure of the physical. Tangible is the third in a series of books...

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Designing Gestural Interfaces

Dan Saffer has a knack for writing the right book at the right time. His first book, Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices pulled together various disparate approaches and aspects to interaction design into one volume. “In general, the response has been positive and it is being used by universities and others to teach new interaction designers. But now, four years after I started writing it, I’m mostly unhappy with it. It’s too theoretical...

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Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks

I hate forms. Germany is full of bureaucrats that love them, but their forms are amongst some of the most poorly designed I have ever encountered. The ones lying under the book in the picture above have been sitting on my desk for a year waiting to find someone who can understand them. A year! What a sad indictment – whoever designed those should be weeping right now. By rights a whole book devoted to Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks should be as interesting as watching paint dry, but...

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The Back of The Napkin

The subtitle of Dan Roam’s best-selling book, The Back of the Napkin is “Solving problems and selling ideas with pictures” – a reasonable description of what designers do for a living. If you are thinking you have nothing more to learn on that front, think again, because Roam has plenty to help sharpen those skills (and pencils). The Back of the Napkin is squarely aimed at the business community, but it useful to a much wider audience. Books about those two battered and...

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Shapes for Sounds

Guest Review by David Sherwin A is for Aleph. B is for Beit. G is for Gimel… When I was a child, Hebrew was beaten into me by a series of well-meaning teachers. Upon reflection, they were probably my first foray into hand-lettering type. Sadly, the letters stuck, but comprehension of the words peeled away past my teenage years. I have always had a nagging thought in the back of my head that if I’d seen a clearer historical thread between Hebrew and modern English, I would have...

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For The Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis

For the Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell is quite simply the most engaging and entertaining design book I have read all year. But I am getting ahead of myself. To understand why this book hits all the right sweet spots, we have to travel back in time. Like many, my first really conscious contact with graphic design was via record covers. My older brother was into Led Zeppelin, Genesis and Peter Gabriel. My father, a graphic designer with his own...

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