Design books are the best way to learn about history and understand how design evolved throughout the last centuries. A lot of work has been published on this topic, and most recently about the new tendencies in design creation.
Choosing the best design books of all time is not an easy task, especially at a time when the techniques and trends are constantly evolving.
Currently, graphic design is gaining ground, and it looks like hand sketching is losing importance to the detriment of computerized design software. Whatever your choice is, we selected those we consider to be the top 10 design books of all time, including true classics and more recent works, that intend to keep up with the changing times. This list of books is essential reading for design students or established professionals, and also useful for those who have no formal training in design, or pretensions of a career in design, but who are interested in the topic and want to delve into their knowledge.
1) “The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition” by Don Norman. In 1988, the director of The Design Lab of University of California wrote a book that addresses disciplines as behavioral psychology, ergonomics and design practice. Since then, it has been updated and became one of the biggest references for designers all over the world. Throughout the book, the reader is enlightened on why and how some products frustrate users instead of satisfying them. The main premise of the book is that usually when people blame themselves for not being able to use a certain object properly, it is the designer’s fault as there’s not enough intuitive guidance in the design of the product.
2) “The Non-Designer’s Design Book (4th Edition)” by Robin Williams. As the world of design changes, each edition of this book evolves and presents new themes to the reader who desires to design as someone who has had formal training. For those who are not designers but want to design like one, this book is the place where they can find easy, quick and helpful design tips from a professional.
3)”Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything” by Aaron Draplin is a book by the American graphic designer who designs for Nike, Esquire and the Obama Administration. This book includes examples from his work in logos, posters and record covers, and some insight into the process behind his designs. Drapling combines in this book, as in his work, simple design, social media and humorous comments about the work behind each design. This is an essential book for the new generation of designers who want to be at the top of their game.
4) “The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life“ by Twyla Tharp provides the reader with thirty-two exercises whose goal is to boost and train creativity. The artist and choreographer believes that creativity is within the reach of everyone, as it can and should be trained and made into a habit. This book can be useful to everyone who is connected with to arts and is definitely among the list of books every designer should read.
5) “Criterion Designs“ by The Criterion Collection is an elaborate coffee-table book that celebrates thirty works of artwork from the American home video distribution company. This book gathers huge names in design and illustration, who translate their work into some of the most iconic films of all time. The artists re-create and re-imagine various designs, which will enthuse designers and cinephiles.
6) “History of Modern Design (2nd Edition) (Fashion Series)“ by David Raizman offers the reader a chronological journey through decorative arts, industrial design and graphic design since the eighteenth century. The book offers insight into social context and the patterns of consumption at the time of each design.
7) “Drawing for Product Designers (Portfolio Skills: Product Design)” by Kevin Henry is a practical and theoretical tutorial-like book that approaches techniques used by product designers, such as freehand sketching, digital rendering, information graphics, and presentation skills. This book includes hundreds of sketches and models specially designed to give guidance in the creation of products. The importance of thinking three-dimensionally for designers is emphasized. This book is definitely one to read if you are looking for a career in product designing.
8) “Work for Money, Design for Love: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Starting and Running a Successful Design Business (Voices That Matter)“by David Airey is an advice guide book that answers all the questions designers have asked the author in his blogs throughout the years about launching their own business. The author uses humorous speech to comment on case studies he garnered from his experience as a designer and gives tips about starting on your own and creating a stable career.
9)”Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color“ by Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker is a visual tour about color through the last 100 years. The authors identify more than 200 works of art, fashion pieces and iconic products and match them with the pantone color palettes to comment on the trends and changes in tendencies.
10) “Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills“ by David Sherwin is a compilation of 80 creative challenges whose goal is to help students and designers to develop the essential skills to excel as working professionals. The exercises train brainstorming techniques and designing skills, and you’ll find that as you attempt each challenge, you’ll be more effective in completing the them. This best-selling design book is used by designers, schools, and corporate design teams all over the world.