5 Design Books You Need to Own (A Designer’s Toolbox)

A Designer's Toolbox, Resources

This is the first blog post in a new series called A Designer’s Toolbox where I’ll recommend some great resources for designers. This will be particularly aimed at young designers or design students.

Over at Degree 53 we’ve started up an App Club. Yep, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that Jonny has gone full nerd. Never go full nerd.

Sadly, I can’t put a positive spin on it. It’s exactly as geeky as it sounds.

Anyways, App Club had led to talks of a designer’s “Book Club”, and that has led me to think about what design books I’d recommend. To be honest, there are dozens and dozens, but I’ve tried to narrow it down to a top 5.

1. Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton
The peerless Ellen Lupton is required reading for all designers. It’s a best seller for a good reason. If you are a designer, this belongs on your bookshelf. Keep it within reach; you’ll be using it a lot.

2. Design Is A Job & You’re My Favourite Client by Mike Monteiro
Ok, I’m cheating a little by included two books here, but both are by Mike Monteiro and they really do work as companions to one another. More than any other book, Design Is A Job has shaped my design career. Buy it. Read it. Then keep reading it every year.
Also consider: pretty much every other book from A Book Apart.

3. The Geometry of Type by Stephen Coles
A truly beautiful book that explores 100 traditional and modern typefaces. If you love type and, let’s be honest, what designer doesn’t – this is the book for you.

4. Information Is Beautiful by David McCandless
It’s not easy to describe this book, other than the fact it is utterly gorgeous and compelling. It’s bursting at the seams with infographics and data visualisations. It’s a must read.
Also consider: Knowledge Is Beautiful.

5. Insites The Book by Elliot Jay Stocks & Keir Whittaker
This next one is a strange recommendation perhaps. The wonderful Elliot Jay Stocks and Keir Whittaker sat down and interviewed 20 prominent designers. What followed is probably the most lovingly put together design book I’ve ever read. Every page is an utter joy to read. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. Sadly Viewport Industries has now closed it’s doors, so the it’s not easy to track down a physical copy of the book, but you can get a digital copy for free!

6. Bonus Book: Working With Brand & Design Guidelines by Rachel Shillcock
I just finished this last week and couldn’t help but include it. It’s a brilliant short book by Rachel Shillcock. I can’t wait for her next book. Buy it. Now.

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