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Stuff We Love

10 Essential Books to Start Your Design Library

Stuff We Love BY courtney conway 02/01/2018

 

Sallyann Corn and Joe Kent are huge book nerds—they’d tell you so themselves. Proof: They asked for gift certificates to their local bookstore, Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle, in lieu of wedding gifts. The couple use their collection, which they estimate is large enough to open their own shop, as references for Fruitsuper, their extremely useful, slyly silly collection of home objects like wavy trivets and wall hooks. Here, Sallyann spills on the copies they can’t live without.

 

1. AN EAMES PRIMER BY EAMES DEMETRIOS

“Written by the grandson of Charles and Ray, this book offers an inside perspective on how this duo joined creative forces and includes extensive interviews, anecdotes, observations, and background on the films, the philosophies, and the inspiring process of the Eames Office.”

 

2. DESIGN AS ART BY BRUNO MUNARI

“Munari's opinionated, sometimes silly, always enlightening commentary on the collisions and divisions of art and design pose timeless and insightful questions. There are dozens of charming sketches peppered throughout.”

 

 

4. DESIGNER MAKER USER BY ALEX NEWSON, ELEANOR SUGGETT, AND DEYAN SUDJIC

“This book explores the relationship between three key design participants—designer, maker, user—and reflects upon the impact that design continues to have on the world around us. Documenting case studies, technologies, and manufacturing methods, it presents a timeline that starts with the Industrial Revolution and leads to the present.”

 

5. DESIGNING DESIGN BY KENYA HARA

“Starting with the idea of ‘unknowing’ in order to see the everyday anew, this book explores the concept of rediscovering our daily surroundings. Diving into emptiness versus nothingness and including an in-depth study of white, this volume is filled with sensorial projects ranging from packaging to food, wayfinding, and architecture.”

 

6. HOW TO SEE: VISUAL ADVENTURES IN A WORLD GOD NEVER MADE BY GEORGE NELSON

“First published in 1977, this provocative manual focuses on Nelson's core belief that visual literacy is a learned discipline indispensable in order to think critically about our built environment. The newest addition reinstates previously omitted sections and imagery, with the intent to teach the ability to not only observe but also to decode.”

 

7. KATACHI BY TAKEJI IWAMIYA AND KAZUYA TAKAOKA

“A full collection (400 pages) of classic Japanese artifacts presented in categories by material. It includes both familiar and mysterious objects, leaving the viewer to draw their own conclusions or simply to fall in love with the romantic black-and-white silhouettes. It’s also the perfect visual reference guide.”

 

 

8. IN PRAISE OF SHADOWS BY JUN'ICHIRŌ TANIZAKI

“With each reread, new layers are revealed. This essay on Japanese aesthetics is a tribute to the sensitivity to light, warmth in materials, and the beauty in shadows. We also suggest flipping to the back of the book to discover when this was first written.”

 

9. INVENTING KINDERGARTEN BY NORMAN BROSTERMAN

“This is a comprehensive insight into the origins of the radical integration of play into education. This visual-based curriculum used a variety of three-dimensional objects for guided activities that led to inductive thinking via discovery, relationships, and self-expression. It’s filled with imagery and examples of the history of Kindergarten Gifts.”

 

10. ON DESIGN: THE MAGIC LANGUAGE OF THINGS BY EVA ZEISEL

“This picture book beautifully outlines the basic language and joy of form-development. From line to pattern, materials, and scale, it articulates and illustrates the spontaneous creative process of objects.”

 

11. SUPER NORMAL: SENSATIONS OF THE ORDINARY BY NAOTO FUKASAWA AND JASPER MORRISON

“This book is the result of a traveling exhibition curated in 2006 by designers Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison. Celebrating a collection of objects that are fundamentally ‘normal,’ anonymous, often overlooked, and ordinarily perfect, it challenges our perceptions and interactions with our own daily objects.”

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