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Designing Design by Kenya Hara

This book should be on every Designers reading list. Kenya Hara is a great writer who explores design with humility and honest inquiry (read: without ego). The opening chapters and the final chapter are the best, it is worth it to go through the entire book though.

Why was this book so good? Kenya Hara's looks at design from a philosophy about how to approach life. Less eloquently than he phrases it, I summarize it as this; design is not a performance, but an inquiry into everyday life.

His writing helped me further explore what design can be in the modern world. Maintaining a sense of optimism for people and environment.

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As Little Design as Possible by Sophie Lovell

An eye opening and informative book. It incorporates a brief background on Dieter Rams, the formation of Braun, and details on a number of the products Dieter was a part of creating.

The sections that talk about the products can feel a bit dry at times. All are worth reading for the stories behind the creation of the products. Some more rich and interesting than others. They are accompanied by marvelous photos. The pictures of Dieter's home were probably the most interesting.

The final section that talks about Dieter's thoughts on various topics, and the evolution of his design principles are gold. Every designer should buy this book to learn from the lifetime experience of Dieter. This book talks a lot about how design exists in the real world. And how it takes a team to turn a product into a reality.

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The Form of Design by Josiah Kahane

The best style agnostic look on form in product design that I’ve read. It might also be the only style agnostic form in product design book. The saying goes that form follows function, but this book points out that sometimes form is an indicator of function. It addresses the emotional and psychological influence form can have on adoption of  new technology.

Recommended for all designers.


Muji by Jasper Morrison

Not "This is what I want" but "This will do"

A book about Muji's philosophy, a company with a singular aligned vision and output, even with multiple contributing members. 

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Exposing the Magic of Design by John Kolko

The first part of the book does a great job of explaining the 'magical' part of the design process, and bring voice to the value of the hard to describe element of synthesizing research into a insights. This is a dense book, and sometimes read similar to 1980s stereo instructions rather than clearly illustrated exercises. Putting them into practice provides more clarity and understanding.

Highly recommended for designers who need to speak to non-designers, and for non-designers who need to speak to designers.

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In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki

Tanizaki offers perspective on various aesthetics in this fluid text. It is interesting to read it almost a century after it was written and think how drastically different the world is from when he wrote this, and yet how apt his observations about the world still remain. 

He shifts topics as one does in conversation. At the end of reading, I felt a desire to observe my surroundings more astutely. An understanding of the history of design and art surrounding us, and the context in which it grew will also be sought after.


Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers and
Wabi-Sabi Further Thoughts by Leonard Koren

A solid book on the concept of wabi-sabi. A brief history on its origins and an explanation of the concept that feels inline with the principles. The binding and presentation are appropriate to the topic. The book feels good in the hand, and the text perfect for reading and turning pages at calm pace. Small elements that reinforce the authors attention to detail and honesty in dealing with the subject matter.

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We Do Not Work Alone: the thoughts of Kanjiro Kawai by Yoshiko Uchida

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Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

How Patagonia got its start, and succeed by making the choices that are the right thing to do. Everyone should read this book.

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Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough & Michael Braungart

Waste equals food.