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How could I have turned down Birte Pampel's invitation to review DESIGN ISSUES from Allworth press. With D.K. Holland and Communication Arts Magazine names underscoring the importance of this book I snatched it up in a heart-beat -- and spent the weekend soaking up it's wisdom.
___ I'm recommending this book as a "must read" to anyone in the visual communications field. It's a shot in the arm of profound proportion -- one that will change and enhance the way you look at design, your projects, your clients and the world in general. Universities should make it required reading for Design 101.
___ In Design Issues, Holland has brought together twenty contributors, ranging from hard-core designers, illustrators, and advertising strategists to artists, writers, and educators to look at contemporary design in a critical, ethical, historical, social, and often humorous context. The voices that come together in this thought provoking volume are marked by an uncompromisingly critical perspective as they discuss issues such as: designing the shape of brands that are unscrupulously promoted on school grounds; the implications of the global branding warfare; design's role in the blurry outcome of the Presidential ballot; designers' uneasy relationship with reading and language; how graphic design can foster -- or undermine -- social developments in this world, and much more.
___ There are so many good passages in this book I contacted Allworth at once to find out about their excerpt policies just so I could pass some of this great stuff along to you. So much of what is written here will strike home with anyone who has ever designed for a client, or taken up the challenge to create an image. Yet it's not all together about the profession of design. It's about what designers do, how they think, and how they interact with the societal challenges of the craft. It's also about putting design itself under the microscope of self evaluation asking 'is this the way that's right?'
"Just like an addict creates a lust for drugs or alcohol, the designer develops a craving for the new, the visually compelling, and the beautiful. The image becomes an end in itself. The graphic language sometimes takes a dominant role over the message being communicated... I call it intoxication of craft. Within any field the quest for, and celebration of, high craft is admirable, but the responsible creation of graphic design involves more than the skillful manipulation of elements on a page or surface."
Design Issues is a refreshingly spirited and committed effort to put design into the context of where it truly belongs -- society. For editor DK Holland, renowned graphic designer, PushPin partner, and industry spokesperson, it is the only viable approach to comprehending this unique form of expression: ". . . you can't explain design.... But you can talk about everything that surrounds design, and, in doing so, understand it as we understand the sun-through the shadows and light it creates."
___ Design Issues is organized into five different contexts: Brand design in its relation to the global marketplace; Graphic designers' response to society's issues; Ethical matters and how designers confront them; Old and new challenges of the creative process; and design's role as a mirror of the outside world.
___ The list of contributors reads like the who's who in today's design industry: John Bielenberg, Michael Bierut, Michael Cronan, Hugh Dubberly, Philip Marshall Durbrow, William Drenttel, Mark Fox, David Lance Goines, Peter Good, Justin Vood Good, Brad Holland, Cecilia Holland, Sean Keman, Ellen Lupton, Larry Keeley, Carolyn McCarron, David Sterling, Tucker Viemeister, Wronique Vienne, and JP Williams.
DESIGN ISSUES, edited by DK Holland is a comfortable, page-turner book that all visual communicators should read. Read it, then re-read it. It will make you a better designer and communicator. My copy is already bursting with numerous post-it notes, marking the passages I want to read again and again. And, with Allworth's permission, I hope to offer many more quotes from the book in future columns. But you shouldn't wait for my quotes. Pick up the book and dig in for yourself.
How Graphic Design Informs Society
Edited by D.K. Holland
$21.95, 6 314 x 9 718, Paperback, 288 pages Paperback
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