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Design Books

Mariyam Hasan - Editorial Strategist



While looking for inspiration, most of us have flipped through several books, feeling the sweet musky smell of its pages. Almost all designers have fueled their passion for design by collecting books, indulging in this luxury during leisure times, and currently, the quaran-time!

Books have served as evidences of history, of important shifts in socio-cultural patterns, urban policies, and modes of architectural production; acting as souvenirs capturing the valuable “takeaways” from the history of design. Often, designer have taken to writing about groundbreaking, outstanding works to expose it to the larger audiences. These books have often conveyed of how and why things are as the way they are, and how they were in other varied circumstances, of how other designers have resolved problems, and of how people respond to forms, material and spatial arrangements.

Needless to say, Design needs to be curated, communicated and conveyed!

Ergo, design books aid as the means of this communication and narrate the story and the history of the designer or the design brand, serving as a bridge of information and persuasion. Each book happens to be a complete meal, from starters to dessert- some weave historic narratives, while some are photo essays that situate design as an inclusive cultural medium and object of human desire, nuanced responsiveness to a region’s evolving urban and suburban geographies; and the ways in which design influences the people around it.

For all brands, communicating design matters for a number of reasons: it makes for a successful communication tool, the process of writing encourages the exploration and expression of ideas, it fosters the critical assessment of the portfolio and it helps in realigning one’s own growth as a designer or design studio, thereby facilitating creative thinking. Given that what architects and designers have to communicate is very often visual, it is necessary to foster to convey those ideas which underpin visual presentations and make comprehensible ideas which are complex. Reflecting the pursuit of a more open and inclusive expression of design, a well curated book can uncover issues and ideas which may not at first be evident, making new ideas not only comprehensible but relevant and interesting.


Communication design is a polarizing piece of the design process. It's often ignored as a superfluous facet of design, or in most practices, is treated as the end-goal of great design. However, such books are neither insignificant nor the end-all to great design, but a means of communicating through orienting illustrations and photography, meaningful typography, evocative iconography, persuasive colour, comforting spacing and layout execution, and many other "little big details."

Design is a process that needs to account for the entire lifecycle of every project's engagement. Visual design is a part of this exercise. Thus, documentation is something that needs to happen from day one to completion. Books and treatises are not all there is to design, but are an important part of a well-thought-out product. They communicate a lot and are something that users generally find very comforting, engaging, and desirable. While establishing brand ethos, one should ensure a book is purposefully conceived early on and has the right stuff documented for it.

Your building shell might be the first impression of your work, but a design book is surely a valuable demonstration of the thought-process that goes into each design. Without a doubt, books are one of the strongest ties a designer can use for effectual branding. A well-detailed architectural design is absolutely [tk1] paramount, but it won't convey the ideas of Foster, Lloyd or Corbusier , just as thoughtful and tastefully curated design books will !

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