Our Favorite Design Books – 2019 Edition

Flower Guides, Rocketships, Neon Signs, and Secret Lives.

As vices go, there are worse ways to spend money than on books dedicated to design, color, photography, typefaces, flowers, knitting(!), signage, and spaceships. There has to be … right?


Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design

The explosion of color in postwar advertising and design has been documented in countless coffee table books, but few capture the sheer joy and vibrancy of mid-century design like Theo Inglis’ new collection. It’s curated more like a museum guide, which keeps the focus on the art (and the explanatory text to a minimum). -Matt Brown

The Secret Lives of Color

This book is a delight. I bought this initially for my husband, who is a designer … then I promptly stole it. The book is beautifully constructed, with vibrant colors and narratives. The stories are surprising and moving and curious. -Caitlin Chase

Flower Color Guide

Flower Color Guide is published by one of my favorite florist duos, Putnam & Putnam. I fell in love with their work, so promptly ordered it upon publication. P&P think about floral design in a radical way and it really shows here. Plus, the Pantone chip-style flower cards in the back are a wonderful nod to design process. -Caitlin Chase

Type. A Visual History of Typefaces & Graphic Styles

This type history book has an awesome collection of letters and typography you can't find just searching the internet. It offers great inspiration for custom or display typography. -Emma Pattison

The NASA Archives

This year being the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, it’s easy to feel like you’ve seen all the pictures related to NASA you’ll ever need to see. Not so! Taschen’s NASA Archives is a vivid, stunning history of the space program (and a great gift idea for the armchair astronauts in your life). -Matt Brown

Women In Design

I discovered this on Creative Quarterly’s Twitter feed a few weeks ago, and it’s really great. It was just released this fall by the UK publisher Laurence King, and it’s much-needed. Nice layout, and it spans many different areas of design. -Isar Chang

Design Book: Made To Stick

I really enjoyed this book (I'm currently on my 2nd pass). It’s a really quick read that breaks down innovation and the “stickiness” of ideas into 6 categories. Each category is explained using short history lessons from some of the biggest companies. The lessons on forced prioritization are something every Product Manager should read. -Jasmine Floyd

Loopy Mango Knitting

Though it's not technically a design book, it's almost a design book, so it counts. This isn't "Sad Knitting Projects 101" or "Ambitious and Unrealistic Patterns Magazine." It actually made me want to knit. I want to make a sweater! I've never made a sweater before! It makes seemingly complicated things seem very achievable. Bonus: the edges of the pages are bright yellow. That's fun. -Joana Kelly

Information Design As Principled Action

This book examines design problems not talked about very often in the industry relating to medicine, government, public transit, etc. It’s a helpful text to understand the relationship between design, cognitive load, and language when designing very complex information. Many lessons to be learned for digital product design, even through the print and physical design case studies. -Emma Pattison

Neon Hunting

Photographer Ted Zahn’s Instagram account is worth following for any and all sign lovers, and this new book captures some of his greatest hits from the American road. Beautiful shots, beautiful collection, and I love books that look like they were as fun to make as they are to enjoy. -Matt Brown

Soviet Metro Stations

We loved Chris Herwig’s Soviet Bus Stops (both volumes), and his follow-up captures the absolutely bonkers design of Soviet-era metro stations. From brutalism to baroque, you can’t believe the stunning fusion of design, function, and propaganda. -Matt Brown


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