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Your 2017 Design Summer Reading List

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Tickets and hotel are booked, bags are packed and all that’s left to do is find a good read. Maybe you’re into something a little more stimulating than the next Twilight page-turner but don’t know where to look. Don’t worry, friends! We’ve asked our designers to name some of the best books about design so that you can enjoy a read that leaves you with something substantial rather than fatigue from rolling your eyes at cheesy dialogue.

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World – Stephen Johnson

512mgCAgJQL._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_In this illustrated history, Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.

In his trademark style, Johnson examines unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated fields: how the invention of air-conditioning enabled the largest migration of human beings in the history of the species—to cities such as Dubai or Phoenix, which would otherwise be virtually uninhabitable; how pendulum clocks helped trigger the industrial revolution; and how clean water made it possible to manufacture computer chips. Accompanied by a major six-part television series on PBS, How We Got to Now is the story of collaborative networks building the modern world, written in the provocative, informative, and engaging style that has earned Johnson fans around the globe.

Source and Purchase Information: Amazon

You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn – Wendy Lesser

51BqRb10szLBorn to a Jewish family in Estonia in 1901 and brought to America in 1906, the architect Louis Kahn grew up in poverty in Philadelphia; by the time of his death in 1974, he was widely recognized as one of the greatest architects of his era. Yet this enormous reputation was based on only a handful of masterpieces, all built during the last fifteen years of his life.

Perfectly complementing Nathaniel Kahn’s award-winning documentary, My Architect, Wendy Lesser’s You Say to Brick is a major exploration of the architect’s life and work. Kahn, perhaps more than any other twentieth-century American architect, was a “public” architect. Eschewing the usual corporate skyscrapers, hotels, and condominiums, he focused on medical and educational research facilities, government centers, museums, libraries, parks, religious buildings, and other structures that would serve the public good. Yet this warm, captivating person, beloved by students and admired by colleagues, was also a secretive and mysterious character hiding behind a series of masks.

Drawing on extensive original research; lengthy interviews with his children, his colleagues, and his students; and travel to the far-flung sites of his career-defining buildings, Lesser has written a landmark biography of this elusive man, which reveals the mind behind some of the twentieth century’s most celebrated architecture.

Source and Purchase Information: Amazon

Delirious New York – Rem Koolhaas

51idBAGvRELSince its original publication in 1978, Delirious New York has attained mythic status. Back in print in a newly designed edition, this influential cultural, architectural, and social history of New York is even more popular, selling out its first printing on publication. Rem Koolhaas’s celebration and analysis of New York depicts the city as a metaphor for the incredible variety of human behavior. At the end of the nineteenth century, population, information, and technology explosions made Manhattan a laboratory for the invention and testing of a metropolitan lifestyle — “the culture of congestion” — and its architecture.

“Manhattan,” he writes, “is the 20th century’s Rosetta Stone . . . occupied by architectural mutations (Central Park, the Skyscraper), utopian fragments (Rockefeller Center, the U.N. Building), and irrational phenomena (Radio City Music Hall).” Koolhaas interprets and reinterprets the dynamic relationship between architecture and culture in a number of telling episodes of New York’s history, including the imposition of the Manhattan grid, the creation of Coney Island, and the development of the skyscraper. Delirious New York is also packed with intriguing and fun facts and illustrated with witty watercolors and quirky archival drawings, photographs, postcards, and maps. The spirit of this visionary investigation of Manhattan equals the energy of the city itself.

Source and Purchase Information: Amazon

Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises – Kate Stohr

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The greatest humanitarian challenge we face today is that of providing shelter. Currently, one in seven people lives in a slum or refugee camp, and more than 3,000,000,000 people–nearly half the world’s population–do not have access to clean water or adequate sanitation. The physical design of our homes, neighborhoods and communities shapes every aspect of our lives. Yet too often architects are desperately needed in the places where they can least be afforded.
Edited by Architecture for Humanity and now on its fifth printing, Design Like You Give a Damn is a compendium of innovative projects from around the world that demonstrate the power of design to improve lives. The first book to bring the best of humanitarian architecture and design to the printed page, Design Like You Give a Damn offers a history of the movement toward socially conscious design, and showcases more than 80 contemporary solutions to such urgent needs as basic shelter, healthcare, education and access to clean water, energy and sanitation.
Design Like You Give a Damn is an indispensable resource for designers and humanitarian organizations charged with rebuilding after disaster and engaged in the search for sustainable development. It is also a call to action to anyone committed to building a better world.

Source and Purchase Information: Amazon

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability – Steve Krug

51xzVPaFhfL._SX387_BO1,204,203,200_Since Don’t Make Me Think was first published in 2000, hundreds of thousands of Web designers and developers have relied on usability guru Steve Krug’s guide to help them understand the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. Witty, commonsensical, and eminently practical, it’s one of the best-loved and most recommended books on the subject.

Now Steve returns with fresh perspective to reexamine the principles that made Don’t Make Me Think a classic–with updated examples and a new chapter on mobile usability. And it’s still short, profusely illustrated…and best of all–fun to read.

If you’ve read it before, you’ll rediscover what made Don’t Make Me Think so essential to Web designers and developers around the world. If you’ve never read it, you’ll see why so many people have said it should be required reading for anyone working on Web sites.

“After reading it over a couple of hours and putting its ideas to work for the past five years, I can say it has done more to improve my abilities as a Web designer than any other book.”
–Jeffrey Zeldman, author of Designing with Web Standards

Source and Purchase Information: Amazon

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