Golden oldies: pre-web-era book recommendations

19 Oct 2009 - 1:29am
5 years ago
8 replies
1405 reads
Murray Thompson
2009

We have a lot of great communication and design-related books
published in last 15 years, but there are others from 30+ years ago
whose content still rings true. Sometimes they may speak even more
loudly than when they were first published and remind us that many
concepts we're exploring today aren't always so new after all.

Some like those from Marshall McLuhan, Edward de Bono, and
Christopher Alexander are still talked about and mentioned once and a
while. But I haven't seen these books I've been reading mentioned:

'Design With Type' by Carl Dair (from 1967)
Discussion on the printed word from letter to word to sentence to
block and to page, history of type and more...

'Design for the Real World' by Victor Papanek (from 1971)
Ethics for design, including ecological and sustainability
principles

Anyone else know of some pre-web-era books related to communication,
design, and design-thinking that might deserve a fresh look from
people today?

Comments

19 Oct 2009 - 3:03am
Nils-Erik Gustafsson
2009

The Elements of Friendly Software Design (Paperback)
by Paul Heckel

# Paperback: 320 pages
# Publisher: Sybex (February 1994)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0782115381
# ISBN-13: 978-0782115383

Originally published in 1984, but available again in 1994, when Sybex
published a slightly new edition, this gem is hard to find, but should
be mandatory reading for everyone in the IxDA field. Heckel refers to
much more established disciplines, such as theatre, film and
literature, which makes the book timeless, unlike many other books in
our field.

Highly recommended!

/Nils-Erik Gustafsson

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19 Oct 2009 - 6:55am
jet
2008

Murray Thompson wrote:
> 'Design for the Real World' by Victor Papanek (from 1971)
> Ethics for design, including ecological and sustainability
> principles

I'd suggest the revised edition with Papanek's extensive updates.

--
J. E. 'jet' Townsend, IDSA
Designer, Fabricator, Hacker
design: www.allartburns.org; hacking: www.flatline.net; HF: KG6ZVQ
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19 Oct 2009 - 8:01am
Phillip Hunter
2006

Designing for People from Henry Dreyfuss

http://www.amazon.com/Designing-People-Henry-Dreyfuss/dp/1581153120

My review of it was published on Designer's Review of Books, run by
Andy Polaine:

http://www.designersreviewofbooks.com/2009/05/designing-for-people/

Phillip
www.phillipwhunter.com

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19 Oct 2009 - 5:50pm
Stephen Holmes
2009

One of the best design typography books I use is "Stop Stealing Sheep
(& Find Out How Type Works) by Erik Spiekermann and E.M. Ginger.

It originally came out in 1993 and a second edition in 2003 that
added some content on how type works on the web. I used the original
edition when I was teaching graphic art and design as a good primer
on the art of typography, and now have the updated 2003 edition.

It was written mainly for the printed page, however typography is
once again becoming more important as a broader range of tools and
CSS tweaks are now becoming more common on the web.

It is not a technical "how to" book - it is more of a book that
shows you the ideas and rules of thumb behind designing with type. It
is a good book and I'm sure you'll all get a few "ah ha!" moments
out of it.

Highly recommend.

Stephen Holmes
Canberra, ACT, Australia

"When you plant a tree, never plant only one. Plant three -- one for
shade, one for fruit, and one for beauty."
-African proverb

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20 Oct 2009 - 12:40am
Peter Boersma
2003

> Anyone else know of some pre-web-era books related to
> communication, design, and design-thinking that might
> deserve a fresh look from people today?

How about Design Methods by John Chris Jones, originally published in
1970.

"Alongside the old idea of design as the drawing of objects that are
then to be built or manufactured there are many new ideas of what it
is, all very different:

* designing as the process of devising not individual products
but whole systems or environments such as airports, transportation,
hypermarkets, educational curricula, broadcasting schedules, welfare
schemes, banking systems, computer networks;
* design as participation, the involvement of the public in the
decision-making process;
* design as creativity, which is supposed to be potentially
present in everyone;
* design as an educational discipline that unites arts and
science and perhaps can go further than either;
* and now the idea of designing Without a Product, as a process
or way of living in itself."

Design Methods first evaluates traditional methods such as
design-by-drawing and shows how they do not adequately address the
complexity of demands upon today%u2019s designer. The book then
provides 35 new methods that have been developed to assist designers
and planners to become more sensitive to user needs. These methods
move beyond a focus on the product to the thought that precedes it.
Throughout, the book%u2019s emphasis on integrating creative and
rational skills directs readers away from narrow specialization to a
broader view of design."

http://www.amazon.com/Design-Methods-Architecture-Chris-Jones/dp/0471284963

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20 Oct 2009 - 12:35pm
Will Hacker
2009

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the classic Design of Everyday
Things by Don Norman. Published in 1988 and updated in 2002.
http://www.amazon.com/Design-Everyday-Things-Donald-Norman/dp/0465067107

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20 Oct 2009 - 1:14am
Isabel Ancona
2009

One of my favorites is:

Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication Oriented Techniques, by
Kevin Mullet and Darrell Sano

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21 Oct 2009 - 1:38am
Murray Thompson
2009

Thanks for the references so far, everyone.

Some are a bit newer than what I was thinking, but I'm sure are good
nonetheless. (If we run up to the early '90s, I'd add books by
Stewart Brand, Edward Tufte, Scott McCloud, Henry Petroski, and Peter
Senge to the list, too.)

I forgot to mention another book who's original content's from 30
years ago I read through:

Change:Principles of Problem Formulation and Problem Resolution by
Paul Watzlawick et al.
Published first in 1974, and is more from a clinical counseling
perspective, but I think the discussions on paradox and second-order
change still apply quite well to business/design problems as well.

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