2015-06-10 17.59.46

Abbott Miller: Design and Content

The recent monograph, Abbott Miller: Design and Content, provides a wealth of evidence for seeing Miller as one of today’s exemplary designers. In my view, this is not for any set of particular projects or for any distinctive Miller style, but for the way he has oriented himself within the design field. I see this orientation as having four parts, based on this book and on some of his previous writing, especially his pioneering Design/Writing/Research: Writing on Graphic Design (1996...

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Speculative Everything

Are designers too wedded to a realist vision of today, and of tomorrow’s prospects? Are they complacent about design’s contributions to society? The answer to both is a resounding yes according to Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. The authors, design duo Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, argue that designers are interested mostly in that which can be produced and marketed under existing or too-comfortably imagined future conditions. Designers tend to think they are...

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Design Transitions – author interview

With its obsession with creating the new and improving the old, design is naturally a field that is in constant flux. In the past decade, design has been grappling with its identity somewhat. Whilst traditional skills are still important, increasingly sub- or über-disciplines such as design thinking, service design and strategic design have marked a significant shift in the roles designers and their clients and partners play on projects. Design Transitions documents this flux, by...

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Push Start: The Art of Video Games

Review by Andy Polaine I grew up with video and computer games. When I was a young child, I remember my father coming home from the pub telling me about the fantastic game he had played there. He described it as a TV mounted in a box with a knob you could rotate in order to control a ball in a kind of tennis game. The game was Pong, of course. It seems like only yesterday… A couple of Christmases later in the late 70s the “family present” was a Prinztronic Tournament...

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A Logo for London

Review by Paul A. Ranogajec London Transport’s logo—known as the roundel, circle and bar, or bulls-eye—easily counts as one of the most successful graphic designs of all time. It has been a constant and increasingly ubiquitous feature of London’s streetscape for over a century. In his book, A Logo for London, David Lawrence describes the logo as “exemplary for its clarity and consistency, and for being universally recognizable.” He reveals how the...

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The Book of Trees

Review by Rebecca Kohn In the preface to The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge, author Manuel Lima says that he “could never find a wide-ranging book dedicated to the tree as one of the most popular, captivating, and widespread visual archetypes,” citing this as his motivation to create this book. Lima provides an introduction that discusses some examples of trees in art before moving on to a timeline of what he considers significant characters in the development of...

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Out of the Blue

Review by Paul A. Ranogajec Everything that may be conjured in your mind by the phrase “Finnish design” is likely to be represented one way or another in Out of the Blue, a collection of biographical vignettes and interviews by Marko Ahtisaari and Laura Houseley. Through its short profiles, the reader is offered insight into what a broad selection of contemporary Finnish designers—and a handful of their famous predecessors including Alvar Aalto, Kaj Franck, and Tapio...

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Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive

Review by Sophia Angelis Philip Grushkin, the long-forgotten but latterly-celebrated book jacket designer, was born to Jewish-Russian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, in 1921. Trained at the Cooper Union, Grushkin studied calligraphy and lettering under the great George Salter before going on to design jackets for many of New York’s leading publishing houses. His designs dressed the covers of some of America’s most important mid-century titles: The Second Sex, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn...

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Ken Garland: Structure and Substance—review and interview

The smell of Cow Gum rubber cement and the fascination of stacked Letraset trays form a large part of my childhood memories of afternoons spent at my father’s graphic design and advertising agency. The bookshelves were also a place of wonder for me. I would leaf through Graphis annuals, reference books and other monographs and frequently come across the work of Ken Garland. Of course, I did not know his name back then, but reading through Ken Garland: Structure and Substance from Unit...

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The Vintage & Classic Style Guide

In order to deal with the ever-growing pile of design books on my desk, I have become more choosy about what to review. Some design books are simply gorgeous design objects, others contain insightful content. All of them vie for attention. Even when I find an engaging book, that there are very few that are destined for my coffee table. The Vintage & Classic Style Guide, published by earBOOKS (Amazon US|DE), might just make the grade. The Vintage & Classic Style Guide is a collection...

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