100 Books All Designers Should Know / 100 Bücher, die alle Designer kennen sollten

Essay contribution to a new publication by Prof. René Spitz and Marcel Trauzenberg, 100 Books All Designers Should Know, published by av Edition.


Cover 100 Books All Designers Should Know

Cover detail: 100 Books All Designers Should Know by René Spitz and Marcel Trauzenberg. Published 2019 by av Edition. Text in German.

Recently, I had the good fortune of being invited to contribute an essay to a new publication by Prof. René Spitz and Marcel Trauzenberg. The book features essays by 100 designers from all over the world.

Each designer was asked:

"If you had to select just one book to recommend to other designers, what would it be? And why?"

The requirements were a short essay and photograph of your chosen book.  The photograph, the authors stipulated, should be of your very own copy —no product shots from the publisher or Amazon.

Of course, it could be a book dealing with the usual design topics (typography, layout, history, theory, etc.), but it could also be from a genre, or on a topic, quite unrelated to design such as philosophy, poetry, or science.

It was challenging to choose just one. At the time of the request I was busy maneuvering through a career change. I was returning to design after a lengthy hiatus, although I maintained, during that time, my research in the field.

Initially, I considered selections by Bruno Munari (Design as Art) and Emil Ruder (Typographie) which had, many years ago, triggered my move from art to design. I also considered books from earlier in my life that were influential, works that ranged from avantgardists like Alfred Jarry and André Breton to classical authors like Homer and Cicero.

Cover The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

My copy of Don Norman's book, The Design of Everyday Things, photographed to accompany my essay.

Ultimately, I felt it appropriate to choose a publication that was top of mind, one that underscored my most recent training in user-centred design, Don Norman's classic: The Design of Everyday Things.

Since I expected few other UX professionals to be included in the book and still fewer user-centered design book recommendations, I took the opportunity to stress the importance of a user-centric approach in my brief contribution.

My text  (translated into German for  publication):

The bright yellow background and bold red ‘Coffee Pot for Masochists’ illustration on the cover of Norman’s revised and expanded classic text, The Design of Everyday Things, regularly acts as a signpost for me. Often seen out of the corner of my eye  -catching and commanding my attention- it is a reminder. The user is calling, asking to be acknowledged. As our digital space expands and integrates with our physical world, user-centered design gains prominence and momentum.

What we can learn from the user should validate every detail of our designs and inspire us to relentlessly push through the mire of emotions, biases, needs and wants,  and compel us to seek out the very root  of the issue at hand.

Fortunately, Norman offers a practical mix of cognitive psychology, user centered design and business insight; all presented in a friendly, accessible way with real world examples. He is a potent companion for the future and an ever present reminder to focus on what’s important.

Spread featuring The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Spread #42 from the book: my essay and photograph  devoted to Don Norman's classic, The Design of Everyday Things.

Design has, at its core, many basic tenets that are shared among its various specializations, whether graphic design, industrial design, product design, user experience design, or any of the countless other ‘designs’. I think this is what Spitz and Trauzenberg were examining with their project.

100 Books Every Designer Should Know brings to light those universal properties. In the end, it is the broad range of books selected paired with unique personal insights that set the publication apart.

I am truly humbled to have been a part of the project and had my contribution included among such renowned and accomplished designers as Ruedi Baur, Saskia Diez, Naoto Fukasawa, Steven Heller, Fons Hickman, Ross Lovegrove, Ingo Maurer, Mike Meiré, Stefan Sagmeister, Inga Sempé, and so many more. 



100 Bücher, die alle Designer kennen sollten (Text in German)


René Spitz and Marcel Trauzenberg






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