A lot of design books have hit the shelves in the last month, but of all those I’ve read, only a few in particular really resonated with me. Most of what has appeared recently has really been pretty mediocre. Here are a few highlights from the shrinking field of stuff worth reading:
Stephen Hogbin’s Appearance and Reality: A Visual Handbook for Artists, Designers, and Makers, originally published in 2000 and recently reprinted, is one of those manuals where a visual artist or designer has tried to organize a consistent system for applying creative ideas to the generation of product. Unlike so many similar attempts, Hogbin’s system — grouped around the four key disciplines of art, craft/technology, science and design — is flexible enough not to see the disciplines or the creative process as a zero-sum equation. It’s a broad approach that focuses on illustrating how both fine artists and commercial designers can create work with integrity and social conscience, and succeeds on a number of levels.
David Jury’s Letterpress: The Allure of the Handmade is a big and beautiful book from the editor of TypoGraphic, the ISTD‘s journal. Jury offers insight into the continued (and in some places growing) popularity of letterpress techniques, and investigates how they have been adapted to work in tandem with digital typesetting. Mostly, though, the book is great for its wonderful pictures of great work from around the world, and is a must-read for anyone even slightly interested in contemporary letterpress work.