The Advertising Concept Book

What makes a good ad? What makes an award-winning creative idea? These days its easy to get distracted by fancy art direction and technological novelties, but when you strip all that away, does the idea still stand up? This is the essence of Pete Barry’s The Advertising Concept Book (Amazon: US|CA|UK|DE) in which you won’t see a single glossy image. No 3D, no photography, no screenshots, just pencil sketches and thumbnails. Sketches are still a staple of the process of developing...

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UPPERCASE Magazine

I am cheating here because UPPERCASE is a magazine and not a book, but rules are made to be broken. How could a web site that bills tags itself with “books for the creative mind” turn down a review of the first issue of a magazine that bills itself as a “magazine for the creative and curious”? Exactly. So, what can one say about another magazine in such a crowded marketplace? Although it is hard to tell just from the first issue, UPPERCASE differs from most glossy...

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Cars: Freedom, Style, Sex, Power, Motion, Colour, Everything.

The car sums up the contradictions of industrialised age more than any other design object. Simultaneously a symbol of desire, design and engineering brilliance and of over-consumption of resources and destruction of the environment. The subtitle to Stephen Bayley’s Cars (Amazon: US|CA|UK|DE) comes from Tom Wolfe’s The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. “Cars mean more to these kids than architecture did in Europe’s great formal century, say, 1750 to...

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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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Subject to Change: Creating Great Products and Services for an Uncertain World

(Guest Review by David Sherwin) Underwhelmed. We’ve all had this reaction when encountering a product or service that just didn’t cut it. Take, for example, the alarm clock next to my bed. There are two alarm switches side by side: one for me, and one for my wife. Invariably, every morning I hit the wrong switch and the alarm keeps sounding. By the time I’ve shut the thing down, my wife is wide awake. And she goes to work two hours after me… I kept thinking about my...

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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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Designing Universal Knowledge: The World as Flatland – Report 1

Given that it is a book about classification, Designing Universal Knowledge: The World as Flatland – Report 1 (Amazon: US|CA|UK|DE) by Gerlinde Schuller is oddly difficult to classify. Schuller is head of the Information Design Studio in Amsterdam and begins the book by reminding us of the relationship between knowledge and power: “Knowledge is power. If one possesses a collection of the ‘universal knowledge’ of the world, one has ultimate power. Establishing...

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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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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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