We like Christopher Alexander's Notes on the Synthesis of Form for the way he takes a sledgehammer to the fetish over aesthetics and artistic pretension in design. We're often mystified by the design community's enthusiasm for uncomfortable chairs and weird-ass light fixtures. If the goal is to apply design principles
As someone who collects books on woodworking I am routinely faced with the conflict of Cost vs. Space vs Ease of Use. While many people love their E-Books - and I have a bunch myself, the physicallity of an actual printed book makes the world of difference for me. That
The Elements is to math as the Bible is to Christianity. Written circa 300 B.C. by Greek mathematician Euclid, the 13-volume series contained everything the ancient Greeks knew about geometry. It influenced countless generations of scientists, mathematicians and academics and remains relevant today. By Euclid (author), Erhard Ratdolt (printer) -
Nowadays the Museum of Modern Art, aka MoMA, is well known for a rarified take on expensive modern art. I try to go visit MoMA several times a year (natives and savvy tourists know when the $25 admission fee is waived) and often feel frustrated by the insularity and smug
A lot of us talk about the importance or relevance of craft objects in our lives. The most important thing I ever read about this topic was in Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's "In Praise of Shadows." It's a thin volume, only 73 pages long, and was first published in 1933 in Japan
In 1971 Victor Papanek wrote his seminal Design for the Real World, a book I'm hoping is still required reading for modern-day design students. (Sample quote: "Much recent design has satisfied only evanescent wants and desires, while the genuine needs of man have often been neglected by the designer." Still valid today, yeah?)
We love David Mindell's Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight. Mindell's book tells the story of "human pilots, of automated systems, and of the two working together to achieve the ultimate in flight." From our perspective, the book explains the link between what rocket scientists in the 1950s called
Every single day, 600 tons of particle board go into a factory, and out the other end comes a product so ubiquitous that there is one for every 100 people on Earth. It was designed in 1978. Can you guess what it is? It's Ikea's Billy bookcase, which should go
We love Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble's Other Side of Innovation, specifically the second half of the book. For anyone who has ever resented being asked to write a business plan, Govindarajan and Trimble's book will at last explain the profound difference between planning and prediction. Consider that at
Cartoons! They carpet the walls of our studio, and they make frequent appearances in Design that Matters presentations and TED talks. In his 2009 book The Back of the Napkin, design thinker and professional doodler Dan Roam demonstrates how simple cartoons can help us to explain and visualize complex concepts,
Robert Pirsig didn't set out in life to change American pop philosophy, or to inspire designers, yet he certainly accomplished both. The writer, mechanic, tinkerer, and philosophizer passed away this week at the age of 88, but he leaves us with a classic text on mindfulness, process and observation. His
When it comes to funding successful crowdfunding campaigns, Alex Daly is known for having an impeccable record. She's helped run some of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns to date, such as Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda's iconic/cult-status New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual and Neil Young's PONO Player
Last time we covered the brilliant cartoonist/inventor Steven M. Johnson, he'd just released a book of his transportation designs. Now he's got a new book out and it spans every design field under the sun. Johnson has graciously allowed us to show you some of the images from "Patent
I'm pretty clueless as a businessman; my background is in tools, computers and mechanical engineering. So I read a lot of books on sales, marketing, and running a business. My favorites are first-hand accounts, and the old books are the most interesting to me. Right now I'm reading "Forty
The gulf between abstracted plans and on-the-ground reality is a real concern to the user researcher. These stories remind us that you can't anticipate all of what will happen in the field. We anticipate our destinations in their optimal versions, but unanticipated ordinary and extraordinary occurrences are
I was reading a Chris Schwarz blog entry on his favorite woodworking writer, Mag Ruffman. It reminded me that I have been planning to write an entry about the first woman woodworking writer that I know of. The Handbook of Turning was first published anonymously in 1842, but it is
Reading Joel Moskowitz's recent piece on building flatpack furniture reminded me of my first encounter with plywood furniture that could be built with a minimal number of tools. I had been given a book called How to Make Furniture without Tools, which contained designs for simple but functional tables, chairs,
I routinely get asked about what books I recommend for people trying to learn this or that. So I thought I would make a short list of the more important titles I stock in my store. This list is about what I recommend for the first book I would
Throughout life, we are constantly asked to think about the future, yet we're given very few methods, models or tools for doing so in constructive ways. According to Jim Dator, Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, our visions for the future are often colonized by mainstream imagery.
Whether you are in school or not, do you realize how easy it is, today, to get information that previously took people decades to amass? There are a lot of good books on woodworking out there, some old, some new. After the success of The Joiner and Cabinet Maker, which
Thomas Thwaites first major project, The Toaster Project, was a huge success which resulted in worldwide media coverage, a popular TED talk, and an appearance on The Colbert Report. His most recent project, GoatMan, experiments with taking a holiday from being human, and his recently-released book chronicles the experience.
In the heyday of anti-war demonstration, Seymour Chwast's graphic work held a radical point of view that steered far from right-wing tendencies while also dramatically veering from rigid formalist notions in graphic design of the day. An avid protestor throughout the 60s and 70s, his work consistently aimed to address
There is a certain kind of book that exists between a technical manual and a true piece of theory or literature. There's a book like this that I keep under the dash of my 1965 VW Bus: John Muir's 1969 VW repair manual How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive. It's
The design world today seems to always be looking forward—toward the next big trend, toward the next up-and-coming talent. In opposition to that, a new book coming out at the end of the month from Core77 contributor Bryn Smith and design editor Aileen Kwun, shines a light on design world
The path to "success" for creative professionals has seen a marked shift in recent years. The traditional sequence of getting a degree, building a portfolio, going on interviews and eventually settling down at a firm is no longer a given—more and more, designers are not focusing on "getting a job"
“I do not like the trend of attaching something to your phone to turn it into a vibrator. A phone is one of the dirtiest things around—why would someone want to put that near their clitoris when there are so many other more practical options out there? I also don’t like teddy bears, rubber ducks, or any other children’s toy turned into a vibrator.”
Everyone knows that print is dead, but anyone who visits the newsstand regularly has probably noticed that there are an awful lot of good-looking independent magazines that seem to be flourishing in these digital times—titles like Pin-Up (architecture), Apartamento (interiors), and Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman (men’s and women’s fashion,
A New Year's resolution is the easiest thing to make--and to break. If you're looking to make a positive, more enduring change in your life we've got a far better system for you, and it involves a bit of good ol' design thinking. Ayse Birsel's "Design the Life You Love:
"I think of a design project as an exploration that involves both the mind and the senses. In order to understand something fully, I must test it and investigate it thoroughly, just as children do, when they touch and taste everything around them." Delving into Enrico Morteo's sweeping monograph on
Julia Hasting is an award winning designer and the Creative Director at Phaidon. For her Core77 Ultimate Gift Guide, she recommends 5 of her most recent books designs, which all have bespoke subject-related high quality book binding features—the perfect gift as objects of desire.
On the day of the American book release launch of John Thackara's new book, How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow's World Today, John Thackara sits down with Core77's Allan Chochinov to talk about the book, changing attitudes about the future, and where we might be heading.
In 1971 Victor Papanek wrote his seminal Design for the Real World, a book I'm hoping is still required reading for modern-day design students. (Sample quote: "Much recent design has satisfied only evanescent wants and desires, while the genuine needs of man have often been neglected by the designer." Still
This cracks me up: Several years ago the publishing house Becker & Mayer, having secured the licensing from Lucasfilm, released a series of Star Wars "manuals" that retailed for $100 each (S.R.P., anyway). Before we get to what's in 'em, let's look at how they're packaged: First off, I'm a
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