You Can’t Understand Design Without Experiencing These 14 Classic Works
There are seminal books, movies, articles, and more that you’ve been meaning to get to but just haven’t made the time for. Well, the time is now, so here’s some essential background material for helping you understand the world of design today.
Caption: Helvetica | While this doc is a deep dive into the world’s most beloved and ubiquitous typeface, it’s also a look at how typography and design pervade our lives.
Caption: The Death and Life of Great American Cities | In her 1961 masterwork, urbanist Jane Jacobs argued that architects and urban planners were destroying the vitality of cities.
Caption: The Design of Everyday Things | Don Norman wrote this seminal book in the 1980s, but it remains a quintessential read on how to design everything from fixtures to software for optimal usability.
Caption: Designing Design | Kenya Hara—a modern ambassador of minimalist Japanese aesthetics—meditates on the ethical and cultural implications of product design.
Caption: Change by Design | Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO, wrote a series of client case studies that demonstrate how designers can succeed in corporate America.
Caption: Just Enough Research | Research is often considered the boring precursor to designing, but Erika Hall’s book shows how exciting and indispensable the process can be.
Caption: Graphic Design | Milton Glaser’s classic visually charts his iconic career and—more important—includes Glaser’s often brutally candid commentary.
Caption: Objectified | This Gary Hustwit-directed doc on industrial design includes a rare glimpse of a candid Jony Ive waxing philosophical about the joys of making Apple products.
Caption: Powers of Ten | Ray and Charles Eames are known for furniture design, but they also made a powerful nine-minute film visualizing the importance of scale.
Caption: S, M, L, XL | Organized by scale, this hefty compendium spans 20 years of projects taken on by OMA, Rem Koolhaas’ pathbreaking Dutch architecture firm.
Caption: Visual Display of Quantitative Information | This classic tome by data-viz guru Edward Tufte includes 250 statistical graphics, along with detailed analysis of how to design data better.
Caption: Thinking With Type | Both novices and experts consider this work, by the design educator and historian Ellen Lupton, a master class on the basics of typography.
Caption: Thoughts on Design | Paul Rand’s slim 1947 volume, now back in print, can impress upon yet another generation of graphic designers the value of integrating form and function.
Caption: Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design | Rams’ message from the ’80s—that great design is useful and beautiful while being virtually invisible—remains relevant today.
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