"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." These words underpin Steve Jobs' success in relaunching Apple, and alights on a twenty first century truth - that we are more attuned to design than perhaps ever before. Looking for books about design? Browse through our expert recommendations to find the best books on design, illustration and related fields to give as a gift to a design lover—or for your own library. Given the prevalence of design considerations in the world of today, our interviews are truly wide-ranging. Here we feature everything from the esoteric – architectural colour in British interiors 1615-1840, for example, as well as Pop Modern or the art of the typeface - to the more mainstream, taking in aspects of design culture such as interior design, game design and garden design.
Confinement has limited our access to noteworthy spaces and places but given many a renewed interest in exploring home. At Five Books, how could we resist a book about libraries? For The Love of Books is a standout for ideas on how to curate your library, and ties in with recent debates about the value and virtue-signalling of libraries in lockdown. Design afficionados as well as literary types will hanker for a well-designed book. Home is where the heart is—and the Hi-Fi. As more music becomes digital rather than analogue, this design book presents an almost wistful look back at the designs that for many defined the acoustic experience of being homebound.
While we keep an eye out for the latest exciting design books to be published throughout the year, we also like to return time and again to personal favourites in the design canon like Junichiro Tanizaki's In Praise of Shadows, Bruno Munari's Design as Art. Browse the design archive, or create your own lists of the best books in any design field close to your heart, to share with like-minded readers everywhere. Who is your favourite designer of all time? Is there a design subject that piques your interest that you don't see on the site? Let us know by getting in contact with the editorial team.
by Kenya Hara
The Laws of Simplicity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)
by John Maeda
Design: The Invention of Desire
by Jessica Helfand
Elements of Design: Rowena Reed Kostellow and the Structure of Visual Relationships
by Gail Greet Hannah
Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary
by Jasper Morrison & Naoto Fukasawa
When we think of design, we often think of objects, typefaces and graphic art. In fact, Kevin G. Bethune argues, design is an essential human activity that goes far beyond that to encompass designing institutions and social structures, a continuum that extends from the material world to our civic existence and the ways in which we collaborate to solve problems and achieve collective ends.
What does it take to be a good graphic designer in our media-saturated age? Linda Secondari, member of the Executive Board of the Graphic Artists Guild, gives us a glimpse of her reference library, five must-have volumes for every design aspirant and those whose work relies on effective visual communication. That she is a book designer by trade is, of course, grist to our mill here at Five Books.
It used to be said that you could be parachuted into any country and know where you were from the typeface used on its road signs. The author of Just My Type tells us about the variety and meaning of different fonts.
Trees are the backbone of any garden, says award-winning garden designer, Arabella Lennox-Boyd. She recommends some great books to get you thinking about garden design.
The British design guru on which book to buy if you want to know how to design a racing car in the 1960s style, American pop culture, modern architecture, and how “Liverpool in the 1960s was like Florence in the 1440s”
Managing Director of design and decoration company says British interiors in 1615 were bright and colourful. Plus a bit of trivia: “lamp black” got its name because burning porcelain over a lamp produced the colour
What’s at stake when we call a building beautiful or denounce it as ugly? MIT professor Timothy Hyde, author of Ugliness and Judgment, explores five books about the social, political and economic dimensions behind debates that often masquerade as arguments about style, but which deal with matters at the very heart of civil society.
Architecture depends at the building stage on money and politics, and later on users, time and weather. Jeremy Till picks five books to allow you behind the scenes of the building sites.
The biographer and editor of John Berger reveals how Berger’s self-characterisation as a storyteller is visible across the numerous genres he writes in.