Kindle be damned. The love affair between designers and printed books is a smoldering thing. Consider the outcry that followed AIGA’s proposal to fold its 86-year-old “50 Books/50 Covers” show into the broader stewpot of an annual multidisciplinary design competition. (It’s now back on its own.)
Or consider Designers and Books, a website founded by the design and business consultant Steve Kroeter that publishes the reading lists of eminent tastemakers. To date, 56 of them, from Emilio Ambasz to Eva Zeisel, have offered 770 titles — books that are “personally important, meaningful, formative,” the website explains. “Books that have shaped their values, their worldview and their ideas about design.”
Next week, another master will be added to this company. “The books I like are human size 3-D objects,” writes Seymour Chwast in the preface to his list. “They are made of ink and paper and sometimes boards and cloth. They often contain things to ponder, ignore, memorize, and laugh and wonder at.”
The kind of book Chwast has in mind is the collected photos of August Sander (“Intense…”), or Edward Steichen’s legendary Family of Man (“Every photo is iconic. I remember them all.”)
You’ll have to visit the site on March 22 to catch the other eight titles in his hit parade, but if you go now, you’ll find books recommended by Shigeru Ban, Mark Fox, Ralph Rucci and Tucker Viemeister. Learn whom Kit Hinrichs considers “the most influential documentarian of our American culture.” Find out what Stefan Sagmeister judges the “best book on race.” Marvel that Steven Heller trimmed his list down to five. Discover what novel Deborah Sussman proposed over the skepticism of her husband, Paul Prejza (“Are you really sure you want to recommend this...?”).
Designers and Books lets you click on titles to assemble your own reading list and supplies the names of bookstores in your state that specialize in design. All in all, it’s a master class, so start skimming.
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