But it feels like a lesser product than it should be. A dozen years on, I feel much the same way. Jul 31, Jacob rated it liked it I picked up 79 Short Essays on Design the way I pick up most of my nonfiction: It was on sale, featuring a topic I knew nothing about but could see enjoying learning about, and a little voice in my gut said, "Yes.
Most of the essays in this collection were pulled from Design Observer, a website co-started by Bierut. If you, like me, plan to dip a toe in to see if it's for you? It's a book about design and it's very weird to be reading an essay about the design of something specific Rob Roy Kelly's woodcuts, say without a visual example for the reader to see.Sometimes the choices mean nothing. I reckon, like a lot of people who appreciate art and creativity, I feel like I know good design when I see it, but that doesn't equip me to be able to understand design on any real level. The chapters vary between personal anecdote, rumination on "current" events, critical analysis, historical perspective, and lecture. MB: I went back and forth with the order quite a bit. If you, like me, plan to dip a toe in to see if it's for you? His experience as a design practitioner informs his writing and gives it truth. To suggest that the most talented and thoughtful designers focus exclusively on nonprofit and cultural clients—which was, as far as I could tell, what the manifesto was advocating—meant abdicating 99 percent of the world of communication to designers who would by definition be untalented and thoughtless.
The intended audience is people who actually know something about design. MB: No, they're the same, expect that the paperback is less expensive and lighter.
Design conjures images of androgynous figures in black turtlenecks wielding clove cigarettes; innovators are forthright fellows with their shirtsleeves rolled up, covering whiteboards with vigorous magicmarkered diagrams, arrows pointing to words like 'Results!
The "essays" just sort of peter out at the end of their allotted length and often feel oddly weighted, as if Bierut excitedly wrote a page and a half introduction to an idea then only had a page to ruminate on it. I could see applying various bits of advice to writing or music composition; we think of design as visual like a magazine layout or utilitarian how a product is put togetherbut really, while we don't say we "design" a novel narrative, there are similar principals at play.