Summer 2019 Reading Guide

With the summer solstice just behind us, AIGA Pittsburgh created a Summer Reading Guide listing design-related books for creatives to enjoy this summer. The guide is a collection of books recommended by board members and members of the design community. Check out the list and enjoy the readings on your upcoming vacation or leisure time on the weekend.

 

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts
By: Simon Garfield
Recommended By: Bri Farrand

A delightfully inquisitive tour that explores the rich history and the subtle powers of fonts.

Fonts surround us every day, on street signs and buildings, on movie posters and books, and on just about every product that we buy. But where do fonts come from and why do we need so many? Who is behind the businesslike subtlety of Times New Roman, the cool detachment of Arial, or the maddening lightness of Comic Sans (and the movement to ban it)? Simon Garfield embarks on a mission to answer these questions and more, and reveal what may be the very best and worst fonts in the world.

Typefaces are now 560 years old, but we barely knew their names until about twenty years ago, when the pull-down font menus on our first computers made us all the gods of type. Beginning in the early days of Gutenberg and ending with the most adventurous digital fonts, Garfield unravels our age old obsession with the way our words look. Just My Type investigates a range of modern mysteries, including how Helvetica took over the world, what inspires the seemingly ubiquitous use of Trajan on bad movie posters, and what makes a font look presidential, male or female, American, British, German, or Jewish. From the typeface of Beatlemania to the graphic vision of the Obama campaign, fonts can signal a musical revolution or the rise of an American president. This book is a must-read for the design conscious that will forever change the way you look at the printed word.

 

How to do Great Work Without Being an Asshole
By: Paul Woods
Recommended By: Emily Conti, AIGA Pittsburgh, Director of Diversity & Inclusion

It’s long been an accepted, almost celebrated, fact of the creative industries that long hours, chaotic workflows, and egotistical colleagues are just the price you pay to produce great work. In fact, this toxic culture is the enemy of creativity, and with greater accountability and transparency in the industry–and more choice for young talent–than ever before, this unsustainable way of doing business is a ticking time bomb.

This is a straight-talking, fun read for all creatives: Director or junior, at an agency or client-side, working in design, advertising, publishing, fashion, or film.

Packed with anecdotes, self-analysis flowcharts (are YOU the asshole?!), exercises and action plans for better working practices.

Simple strategies can easily be implemented to create a happier, more productive team and–importantly–BETTER WORK!

 

How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody
By: Abby Covert
Recommended By: Jason Horne, AIGA Pittsburgh, Vice President

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of information we encounter each day. Whether at work, at school, or in our personal endeavors, there’s a deepening (and inescapable) need for people to work with and understand information.

Information architecture is the way that we arrange the parts of something to make it understandable as a whole. When we make things for others to use, the architecture of information that we choose greatly affects our ability to deliver our intended message to our users.

We all face messes made of information and people. I define the word “mess” the same way that most dictionaries do: “A situation where the interactions between people and information are confusing or full of difficulties.” — Who doesn’t bump up against messes made of information and people every day?

This book provides a seven step process for making sense of any mess. Each chapter contains a set of lessons as well as workbook exercises architected to help you to work through your own mess.

 

The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design
By: Marty Neumeier
Recommended By: Dan Brettholle

THE BRAND GAP is the first book to present a unified theory of brand-building.  Whereas most books on branding are weighted toward either a strategic or creative approach, this book shows how both ways of thinking can unite to produce a “charismatic brand”—a brand that customers feel is essential to their lives. In an entertaining two-hour read you’ll learn:

  • the new definition of brand
  • the five essential disciplines of brand-building
  • how branding is changing the dynamics of competition
  • the three most powerful questions to ask about any brand
  • why collaboration is the key to brand-building
  • how design determines a customer’s experience
  • how to test brand concepts quickly and cheaply
  • the importance of managing brands from the inside
  • 220-word brand glossary

 

The Shape of Design
By: Frank Chimero
Recommended By: Jason Horne, AIGA Pittsburgh, Vice President

Hi. My name’s Frank Chimero. I’ve spent the better part of the last two years writing and speaking on design and thinking about the topics that orbit the practice: storytelling, concept, craft, and improvisation. I want to take all of the ideas I’ve had and connected these past few months and capture them in a book format.

I’ve been teaching for the past 5 years, and I’ve always been a bit frustrated that there isn’t a nice, concise book that overviews the mental state of a successful designer while they go through their creative process. For instance, many say that graphic design is visual communication. A cornerstone of communication is storytelling, and yet you’d be hard-pressed to find any discussion of how to tell stories with design in any design book. This should be remedied.

There are new challenges in the world that need to be discussed, and I think design is a prime lens to consider these topics. As our world moves faster and as things become less stable, it becomes more important for individuals to embrace ambiguity, understand paradox, and realize that two things can conflict and still somehow both be true. We must realize that logic doesn’t always work, and that sometimes nonsense is the best answer. These are the topics I intend to address in the book.

The Shape of Design isn’t going to be a text book. The project will be focused on Why instead of How. We have enough How; it’s time for a thoughtful analysis of our practice and its characteristics so we can better practice our craft. After reading the book, I want you to look at what you do in a whole new light. Design is more than working for clients.

But really, this book aims to look at the mindset and worldview that designing develops in order to answer one big, important question: How can we make things that help all of us live better?

 

Enghelab Street: A Revolution through Books, Iran 1979-1983
Published By: Spector and LE BAL
Recommended By: Joel Coggins

Co-published by Spector and LE BAL on the occasion of the exhibition Hannah Darabi – Enghelab Street, A Revolution through Books: Iran 1979–1983, the publication presents a variety of photographic and propaganda books published between 1979 and 1983—short time period when freedom of speech prevailed at the end of the Shah’s regime – all collected by Iranian artist Hannah Darabi.

 

 

 

Two-Dimensional Man
By: Paul Sahre
Recommended By: Nick Caruso, AIGA Pittsburgh, Programming Director

In Two-Dimensional Man, Paul Sahre shares deeply revealing stories that serve as the unlikely inspiration behind his extraordinary thirty-year design career. Sahre explores his mostly vain attempts to escape his “suburban Addams Family” upbringing and the death of his elephant-trainer brother. He also wrestles with the cosmic implications involved in operating a scanner, explains the disappearance of ice machines, analyzes a disastrous meeting with Steely Dan, and laments the typos, sunsets, and poor color choices that have shaped his work and point of view. Two-Dimensional Man portrays the designer’s life as one of constant questioning, inventing, failing, dreaming, and ultimately making.

 

 

The Cheese Monkeys
By: Chip Kidd
Recommended By: Nick Caruso, AIGA Pittsburgh, Programming Director

After 15 years of designing more than 1,500 book jackets at Knopf for such authors as Anne Rice and Michael Chrichton, Kidd has crafted an affecting an entertaining novel set at a state university in the late 1950s that is both slap-happily funny and heartbreakingly sad. The Cheese Monkeys is a college novel that takes place over a tightly written two semesters. The book is set in the late 1950s at State U, where the young narrator, has decided to major in art, much to his parents’ dismay. It is an autobiographical, coming-of-age novel which tells universally appealing stories of maturity, finding a calling in life, and being inspired by a loving, demanding, and highly eccentric teacher.

 

 

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace
By: Gordon MacKenzie
Recommended By: Dan Brettholle

Creativity is crucial to business success. But too often, even the most innovative organization quickly becomes a “giant hairball”–a tangled, impenetrable mass of rules, traditions, and systems, all based on what worked in the past–that exercises an inexorable pull into mediocrity. Gordon McKenzie worked at Hallmark Cards for thirty years, many of which he spent inspiring his colleagues to slip the bonds of Corporate Normalcy and rise to orbit–to a mode of dreaming, daring and doing above and beyond the rubber-stamp confines of the administrative mind-set. In his deeply funny book, exuberantly illustrated in full color, he shares the story of his own professional evolution, together with lessons on awakening and fostering creative genius.

Originally self-published and already a business “cult classic”, this personally empowering and entertaining look at the intersection between human creativity and the bottom line is now widely available to bookstores. It will be a must-read for any manager looking for new ways to invigorate employees, and any professional who wants to achieve his or her best, most self-expressive, most creative and fulfilling work.

 

Org Design for Design Orgs: Building and Managing In-House Design Teams
By: Peter Merholz, Kristin Skinner

Design has become the key link between users and today’s complex and rapidly evolving digital experiences, and designers are starting to be included in strategic conversations about the products and services that enterprises ultimately deliver. This has led to companies building in-house digital/experience design teams at unprecedented rates, but many of them don’t understand how to get the most out of their investment. This practical guide provides guidelines for creating and leading design teams within your organization, and explores ways to use design as part of broader strategic planning.

You’ll discover:
– Why design’s role has evolved in the digital age
– How to infuse design into every product and service experience
– The 12 qualities of effective design organizations
– How to structure your design team through a Centralized Partnership
– Design team roles and evolution
– The process of recruiting and hiring designers
– How to manage your design team and promote professional growth

 

Thinking with Type
By: Ellen Lupton
Recommended By: Nick Schweich

The organization of letters on a blank sheet—or screen—is the most basic challenge facing anyone who practices design. What type of font to use? How big? How should those letters, words, and paragraphs be aligned, spaced, ordered, shaped, and otherwise manipulated? In this groundbreaking new primer, leading design educator and historian Ellen Lupton provides clear and concise guidance for anyone learning or brushing up on their typographic skills.

Thinking with Type is divided into three sections: letter, text, and grid. Each section begins with an easy-to-grasp essay that reviews historical, technological, and theoretical concepts, and is then followed by a set of practical exercises that bring the material covered to life. Sections conclude with examples of work by leading practitioners that demonstrate creative possibilities (along with some classic no-no’s to avoid).

 

While You’re Reading
by Gerard Unger
Recommended By: Sarah Davis, AIGA Pittsburgh, Education Director

This book is about everything that happens while you’re reading – in front of your eyes and inside your head – and about what type designers, typographers and graphic designers bring to a page to make it happen.

Renowned type designer Gerard Unger distills decades of design experience into a playful, accessible text that reflects the range of his professional projects, from designing the fonts read daily by millions in USA Today to being responsible for the look of the highway and metro signs in the Netherlands.

For Unger, regardless of the application, designers should always consider two important questions: How is it possible to read without seeing any letters? To what extent do all readers possess hidden typographic knowledge? Keeping these two core ideas in mind, Unger explores such topics as legibility, invisible typography, pattern recognition, the reading process, the ergonomics of letterforms, the universe of signs, negative space and typographic illusions.

The most seasoned typographers and designers will find as much value in this fresh, first-ever English translation as beginners and the curious who have always wondered how reading happens.

 

 

By aigapittsburgh
Published June 25, 2019
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