11 must-read design books

Alex Bigman

With every design blog we follow, every RSS feed we subscribe to and every tablet we lay eyes on, the good old-fashioned book feels more irreplaceable. Besides being a beautifully designed object, the hardcover book typically boasts a more esteemed author, more care in its research and a more thorough editing process than your typical online fare.

This is why we make a point to always send a nice, thick design book to the winner of our monthly Top 9 at 99 contest. Having kept up this practice for well over a year now, we’ve compiled quite a reading list! Here are 11 of the books and publications adorning our office coffee table. We love them, and believe that many are a must-have for all designers.

Logo, Branding and Identity

Big Brand Theory (Sandu Publishing)

Case studies of high-end branding campaigns (Adidas, Starbucks, UNIQLO, etc.) and the lessons a designer can take away from each with respect to corporate identity projects.

Logo, Font & Lettering Bible (HOW Design Books)

Suitable for designers of all levels, this book gives advice and tutorials about logo and type design. Note: best not to judge this book by its cover…

Designing Brand Identity (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)

This book lays out a five-phase process of brand identity, from research and development to design application. An excellent toolkit for all graphic designers.

Design DNA: Logos (HOW Books)

Renowned brand consultant Matthew Healey gives the scoop on corporate identity, branding, marketing and more.

Typography

Thinking With Type (Princeton Architectural Press)

The language can be intimidatingly academic at times, but this book is a best-seller for a reason: truly the definitive work on type design and its role in visual communication.

Type Matters! (Merrell Publishers)

However much you think you know about typography, you should probably know a little more. The practice of type design has never been more integral to the design process than it is now, at the peak of the digital age. Don’t let the terminology overwhelm you; master it, using this book as your reference. A definite must-have.

Communication Arts Typography Annual (Communication Arts)

Communication Arts is a bi-monthly publication covering everything from graphic design to photography. We cherish our subscription and especially look forward to its yearly Typography Annual.

Design History

100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design (Laurence King Publishers)

100 technical, stylistic and methodical innovations, arranged chronologically, that changed the industry of graphic design into what it is today.

Pantone: the Twentieth Century in Color (Chronicle Books)

A unique, color coded view of the march of history, from the Pale Gold and Almost Mauve that coincided with the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris, to the Rust and Midnight Navy that colored the eve of the new millenium.

Design Inspiration

Drawn In: A Peek into the Inspiring Sketchbooks of 44 Fine Artists, Illustrators, Graphic Designers and Cartoonists (Quarry Books)

Profiles of major artists and full-color images of excerpts from their private sketchbooks. A rare peak into a great collection of creative minds. Inspiring stuff!

Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills (HOW Books)

Working on your ability to design under deadline? This book has 80 challenges that help you tackle real design tasks under the stopwatch.

What else should we be reading? Please share in the comments!

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