360° Industrial Design

Arman Emami’s book is a concise, comprehensive, and utilitarian primer to industrial design. Beautiful illustrations and clear writing make it a breezy read on useful topics including functionality, usability, form, colors, and materials.

Reread Adrian Frutiger Typefaces

I read the first edition of Adrian Frutiger Typefaces borrowed from the library and wanted my own copy, but the cost of $153.95 is too much for my budget. Fortunately, the second edition came out last year with a much more affordable price tag. I preordered and copped my copy for about $65 bucks. The cover doesn’t have the bounded cloth like the first edition, but it is definitely worth the bargain if you’re a type nerd.

For the reread, I focused mostly on his words. I find his honesty and modesty are as fascinating as his thinking process and design decision. For example, here is what he has to say about one of his “unsuccessful” typefaces:

Serifa is one of my worst attempts at a typeface, I think it’s fair to say. Not because of the characters that were unusual for me, but because my idea of a constructivist slab serif face was wrong for the eye. I always wanted to make readable typefaces. And Serifa just isn’t comfortable to read, it doesn’t flow well enough because of its wide fit. One could use it for posters. Serifa is pretty meaningless and yet it endures. That’s the tragic thing about typefaces, they stick around and always will. Once you design one you have to be able to stand by it.

Thanks to Heidrun Osterer and Philipp Stamm for putting together such a priceless treasure for the type community.

Inspiration of Book

Tingli’s Inspiration of Book showcases books designed to offer unique experiences. Readers can crumble a piece of paper into a ball with Play More, spill coffee on the Expresso, or even eat a Cookie Bookie. My personal favorite is Snoop Dogg’s Rolling Words: A Smokable Book. You can roll it up and smoke it. With the vast number of projects and the minimal writing make it a perfect coffee table book to flip through for inspiration.

No Place To Hide

The first two chapters of No Place To Hide capture the captivating interaction between journalist-author Glenn Greenwald, filmmaker Laura Poitras, and whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald provides engaging details of his meeting with the source and his fighting with The Guardian to get the stories published. He doesn’t hold back on criticizing The Washington Post, The New York Times, and even the Obama administration. Reading this book makes me disappointed with Obama for the way he has been handling our privacy. Many thanks to Edward Snowden for putting his life on the line for us. He is truly a hero. I do hope he can come back to the US one day as a normal citizen.

The Uncertain Web

Designing for the web could be scary if you can’t accept the fact that your website won’t look the same in every device. In his recent book, Rob Larsen makes an excellent case for embracing the uncertain web. He also provides practical principles, such as progressive enhancement, fluid approach, optimal experience, to help you make the transition without intimidation.

TM: The Untold Stories Behind 29 Classic Logos

Mark Sinclair’s untold stories on iconic logo design are intriguing and inspiring. The visual illustrations help readers to see how the brands executed. From Bell System to Coca-Cola to London Underground to V&A, MT is a recommended read and reference for graphic designers.

Editorial Design: Digital and Print

Packed with contents and examples on editorial design, Cath Caldwell and Yolanda Zappaterra’s book is not easy to digest. The scattering information interrupts the flow. Text, Illustrations, and commentaries are not organized in a logical hierarchy. The main text, which sets in a slab, geometric typeface, is hard to read. Worse is when the same typeface is set in white against the dark background. The text is barely readable. As far as the contents, the book focuses far more on print than digital editorial design. Sorry, not recommending it.

Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth

In his new book on Billie Holiday, John Szwed sheds some lights on the mysterious complexity in the life and music of one of the greatest jazz singers of all time. He divided the book into three distinctive sections. In the first part, he reveals stories that were left off her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues. The incidents were too bold for 1956, when the book was published. In the second part, he briefly reconstructs Billie’s appearances on film, television, and photography. The best part of the book yet is the musical analysis. From Billie’s unconventional approach to singing to her distinctive vocals to her controversial song choices, Szwed makes her music easy to understand and to appreciate. Szwed is a musical scholar with a gift for explaining music in plain and simple language. I’ll definitely reread it in the near future since the book is set in Arno Pro, a beautiful and readable text face designed by Robert Slimbach.

Designing for Performance

Lara Callender Hogan’s book is concise and yet packed with useful information on web performance. From images to CSS to JavaScript to gzip to caching, Hogan’s writing is accessible to even non-coders because she knows that performance is everyone’s responsibility, not just the front-end developers. Read it and share it with your team—even your boss can benefit on changing the culture at your organization—if you want to provide your visitors a faster experience.

Empire State of Mind

Zack O’Malley Greenburg’s unauthorized biography of Jay-Z reads like a long résumé detailing the business successes (and failures) of a gifted rapper turned exemplary entrepreneur. Since he has no direct access to Jay-Z, Greenburg offers no inside information on how the man handled his business. If you have followed Jay-Z closely from his music to his venture, the stories come at no surprise. To be fair, the book is not as “terrible” as Jay-Z had criticized. It does provide some intriguing glimpses of Jay-Z’s accomplishments.