2012 | 50 Books Selections

2011-2017 Winners
2017 Books
2017 Covers
2016 Books
2016 Covers
2015 Books
2015 Covers
2014 Books
2014 Covers
2013 Books
2013 Covers
2012 Books
2012 Covers
2011 Books
2011 Covers

AIGA Archives
101 Tragedies of Enrique Metinides
101 Tragedies of Enrique Metinides
AUTHOR: Denise Wolff
PUBLISHER: Aperture
DESIGNER: Emily Lessard


A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald
A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald
AUTHOR: Errol Morris
PUBLISHER: Penguin Press
ART DIRECTOR: Michael Bierut
DESIGNER: Yve Ludwig
DESIGN FIRM: Pentagram Design


Advertising for People Who Don't Like Advertising
Advertising for People Who Don't Like Advertising
AUTHOR: Kesselskramer
PUBLISHER: Laurence King Publishers
DESIGNER: KesselsKramer


America's Other Audubon
America's Other Audubon
AUTHOR: Joy M. Kiser
PUBLISHER: Princeton Architectural Press
ART DIRECTOR: Deb Wood
DESIGNER: Bree Anne Apperlery


Anton Ginzburg: At the Back of the North Wind
Anton Ginzburg: At the Back of the North Wind
AUTHOR: Jeffrey Kastner (Author), Boris Groys (Author), Anton Ginzburg (Author)
PUBLISHER: Hatje Cantz
ART DIRECTOR: Project Projects
DESIGNER: Project Projects
DESIGN FIRM: Project Projects


Aperture Magazine Anthology: The Minor White Years, 1952–1976
Aperture Magazine Anthology: The Minor White Years, 1952–1976
AUTHOR: Peter C. Bunnell, Lesley A. Martin, Diana C. Stoll
PUBLISHER: Aperture
DESIGNER: Andrew Sloat


Architectural composition
Architectural composition
AUTHOR: Marius Saliamoras
PUBLISHER: Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts Publishing House
ART DIRECTOR: Ausra Lisauskiene
DESIGNER: Ausra Lisauskiene
DESIGN FIRM: Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts


Caravaggio and His Legacy
Caravaggio and His Legacy
AUTHOR: Edited by J. Patrice Marandel with contributions by J. Patrice Marandel, Gianni Papi and Benjamin Couilleaux, Axel Hemery, Michel Hilaire,Dominique Jacquot, Judith Mann,Lynn Orr, Amy Walsh, Eric Zafran,Olivier Zeder
PUBLISHER: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and DelMonico Books/Prestel
DESIGNER: Barbara Glauber


Conversations from the Print Studio: A Master Printer in Collaboration with Ten Artists
Conversations from the Print Studio: A Master Printer in Collaboration with Ten Artists
AUTHOR: Craig Zammiello and Elisabeth Hodermarsky
PUBLISHER: Yale University Press
DESIGNER: Christopher Sleboda


Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine
Curiosity and Method: Ten Years of Cabinet Magazine
AUTHOR: Sina Najafi
PUBLISHER: Cabinet Books
DESIGNER: Everything Studio


Dancing around the Bride: Cage, Cunningham, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp
Dancing around the Bride: Cage, Cunningham, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp
AUTHOR: Carlos Basualdo, Erica F. Battle, Reinaldo Laddaga, Paul Franklin, Calvin Tomkins, Amy Wilkins
PUBLISHER: Yale University Press
ART DIRECTOR: Takaaki Matsumoto
DESIGNER: Takaaki Matsumoto, Robin Brunelle
DESIGN FIRM: Matsumoto Incorporated


Daniel Brush
Daniel Brush
AUTHOR: Oliver Sacks, David Revere McFadden, Amy Wilkins
PUBLISHER: Museum of Arts and Design
ART DIRECTOR: Takaaki Matsumoto
DESIGNER: Takaaki Matsumoto, Robin Brunelle
DESIGN FIRM: Matsumoto Incorporated


Doris Duke's Shangri-La
Doris Duke's Shangri-La
AUTHOR: Donald Albrecht, Thomas Mellins, Tim Street-Porter and Deborah Pope
PUBLISHER: Skira Rizzoli
ART DIRECTOR: Abbott Miller
DESIGNER: Kim Walker
DESIGN FIRM: Pentagram Design


Elegantissima: The Design and Typography of Louise Fili
Elegantissima: The Design and Typography of Louise Fili
AUTHOR: Louise Fili
PUBLISHER: Princeton Architectural Press
ART DIRECTOR: Louise Fili
DESIGNER: Louise Fili, John Passafiume, Dana Tanamachi
DESIGN FIRM: Louise Fili Ltd


Encyclopedia of Flowers – Flower Works by Makoto Azuma Photographed by Shunsuke Shiinoki
Encyclopedia of Flowers – Flower Works by Makoto Azuma Photographed by Shunsuke Shiinoki
AUTHOR: Kyoko Wada
PUBLISHER: Lars Müller Publishers
ART DIRECTOR: Kenya Hara
DESIGNER: Kenya Hara, Kaoru Matsuno, and Chen Fangju
DESIGN FIRM: Nippon Design Center


Enviroment and Object: Recent African Art
Enviroment and Object: Recent African Art
AUTHOR: Lisa Aronson & John S. Weber
ART DIRECTOR: Barbara Glauber
DESIGNER: Barbara Glauber, Azusa Kobayashi, Gregory Skiano
DESIGN FIRM: Heavy Meta


Felipe Cohen, Recent Works
Felipe Cohen, Recent Works
AUTHOR: Felipe Cohen, Daniel Trench
PUBLISHER: Galeria Marília Razuk
ART DIRECTOR: Daniel Trench
DESIGNER: Daniel Trench
DESIGN FIRM: Daniel Trench


Fred Sandback
Fred Sandback
AUTHOR: Fred Sandback
PUBLISHER: Radius Books and David Zwirner
ART DIRECTOR: David Chickey
DESIGNER: David Chickey
DESIGN FIRM: Skolkin & Chickey


FUSE 1–20
FUSE 1–20
AUTHOR: Neville Brody, Jon Wozencroft
PUBLISHER: TASCHEN
ART DIRECTOR: Josh Baker
DESIGNER: Various


Herb Lubalin
Herb Lubalin
AUTHOR: Adrian Shaughnessy
PUBLISHER: Unit Editions
ART DIRECTOR: Tony Brook
DESIGNER: Claudia Clat and Elena Carl
DESIGN FIRM: Spin


In the Life of Cities
In the Life of Cities
AUTHOR: Mohsen Mostafavi in Cooperation with Harvard University Graduate School of Design
PUBLISHER: Lars Müller Publishers
ART DIRECTOR: Lars Müller
DESIGNER: Integral Lars Müller
DESIGN FIRM: Integral Lars Müller


Information Graphics
Information Graphics
AUTHOR: Sandra Rendgen, Julius Wiedemann
PUBLISHER: TASCHEN
ART DIRECTOR: Praline, Al Rodger and David Tanguy
DESIGNER: Cover design by Josh Baker


Japanese American Photography: Commemorative Edition
Japanese American Photography: Commemorative Edition
AUTHOR: Cody Westerbeck and Dennis Reed
PUBLISHER: One Cat Press
ART DIRECTOR: N/A
DESIGNER: Dennis Reed
DESIGN FIRM: One Cat Press


Ken Garland: Structure and Substance
Ken Garland: Structure and Substance
AUTHOR: Adrian Shaughnessy
PUBLISHER: Unit Editions London
ART DIRECTOR: Tony Brook
DESIGNER: Elena Carl, Adrian Shaghunnesy


Mark & the Jellybeen Monster
Mark & the Jellybeen Monster
AUTHOR: Author - Ariel Lee; Editors - Alex Carswell, Nancey Greystone
PUBLISHER: Designmatters at Art Center College of Design
ART DIRECTOR: David Tillinghast
DESIGNER: Ariel Lee
DESIGN FIRM: Designmatters at Art Center College of Design


Mastering the Iron
Mastering the Iron
AUTHOR: Anne Kelly Knowles
PUBLISHER: The University of Chicago Press
ART DIRECTOR: Jill Shimabukuro
DESIGNER: Ryan Li
DESIGN FIRM: The University of Chicago Press


Meme Wars
Meme Wars
AUTHOR: Kalle Lasn and Adbusters
PUBLISHER: Seven Stories Press
ART DIRECTOR: Will Brown
DESIGNER: AdBusters


Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography, New and Revised Edition
Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography, New and Revised Edition
AUTHOR: Franz Schulze and Edward Windhorst
PUBLISHER: The University of Chicago Press
ART DIRECTOR: Jill Shimabukuro
DESIGNER: Matt Avery
DESIGN FIRM: The University of Chicago Press


Notes from a Revolution: Com/Co, The Diggers & The Haight
Notes from a Revolution: Com/Co, The Diggers & The Haight
AUTHOR: Kristine McKenna and David Hollander
PUBLISHER: Foggy Notion Books in association with Fulton Ryder, Inc.
ART DIRECTOR: Lorraine Wild
DESIGNER: Lorraine Wild and Haruna Madono
DESIGN FIRM: Green Dragon Office


Open This Little Book
Open This Little Book
AUTHOR: Jesse Klausmeier, Illustrated by Suzy Lee
PUBLISHER: Chronicle Books
ART DIRECTOR: Sara Gillingham
DESIGNER: Sara Gillingham
DESIGN FIRM: Sara Gillingham Studio


Page 1: Great Expectations / Seventy graphic solutions
Page 1: Great Expectations / Seventy graphic solutions
AUTHOR: Lucienne Roberts / Rebecca Wright
PUBLISHER: GraphicDesign&
ART DIRECTOR: Lucienne Roberts / Rebecca Wright
DESIGNER: Lucienne Roberts / John McGill
DESIGN FIRM: LucienneRoberts+


Paul Strand: The Garden at Orgeval
Paul Strand: The Garden at Orgeval
AUTHOR: Denise Wolff
PUBLISHER: Aperture
DESIGNER: Daniel Baer


Petrochemical America, Photographs by Richard Misrach, Ecological Atlas by Kate Orff
Petrochemical America, Photographs by Richard Misrach, Ecological Atlas by Kate Orff
AUTHOR: Melissa Harris
PUBLISHER: Aperture
DESIGNER: Bob Aufuldish
DESIGN FIRM: Aufuldish & Warinner


Philosophy of Design
Philosophy of Design
AUTHOR: Ove Arup
PUBLISHER: Prestel


Protecting Wisdom: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection
Protecting Wisdom: Tibetan Book Covers from the MacLean Collection
AUTHOR: Kathryn H. Selig Brown, Ph.D., Richard A. Pegg
PUBLISHER: MacLean Collection & Prestel Publishing
ART DIRECTOR: Lorraine Wild
DESIGNER: Lorraine Wild and Xiaoqing Wang with Joe Potts
DESIGN FIRM: Green Dragon Office


Rashid Johnson: Message To Our Folks
Rashid Johnson: Message To Our Folks
AUTHOR: Julie Rodrigues Widholm (Curator), Kate Steinmann, Sarah Kramer, Molly Zimmerman-Feeley (Editors)
PUBLISHER: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
DESIGNER: James Goggin, Alfredo Ruiz
DESIGN FIRM: Design, Publishing, and New Media department, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago


Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective
Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective
AUTHOR: Contributions by Jennifer Blessing, Sandra S. Phillips, Chelsea Spengemann, and Jan van Adrichem
PUBLISHER: Guggenheim Museum
DESIGN FIRM: Mevis & van Deursen


Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible Conversations
Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible Conversations
AUTHOR: Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda
PUBLISHER: Metropolitan Museum of Art
ART DIRECTOR: Abott Miller
DESIGNER: Kim Walker, Kristen Spilman and Krista Reeder
DESIGN FIRM: Pentagram Design


Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies: Lafayette Park, Detroit
Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies: Lafayette Park, Detroit
AUTHOR: Placement (Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar, Natasha Chandani)
PUBLISHER: Metropolis Books
ART DIRECTOR: Placement (Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar, Natasha Chandani)
DESIGNER: Placement (Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar, Natasha Chandani)


The American Circus
The American Circus
AUTHOR: Susan Weber, Kenneth L. Ames, Matthew Wittmann
PUBLISHER: Bard Graduate Center and Yale University Press
ART DIRECTOR: Barbara Glauber
DESIGNER: Barbara Glauber, Florian Brozek, Azusa Kobayashi, Greg Skiano
DESIGN FIRM: Heavy Meta


The Democratic Lecture
The Democratic Lecture
AUTHOR: Craig Oldham
PUBLISHER: Unified Theory Of Everything
DESIGNER: Craig Oldham
DESIGN FIRM: Music


The English Cathedral
The English Cathedral
AUTHOR: Peter Marlow
PUBLISHER: Merrell
ART DIRECTOR: Nicola Bailey
DESIGNER: Justine Schuster and Ana Rocha
DESIGN FIRM: SMITH


The Hugo Boss Prize 2012
The Hugo Boss Prize 2012
AUTHOR: Contributions by Katherine Brinson, Suzanne Cotter, Dominic Eichler, Kate Fowle, Beatrix Ruf, Adam Szymczyk, and Julie Rodrigues Widholm
PUBLISHER: Guggenheim Museum
DESIGNER: Sara De Bondt, Mark El-khatib
DESIGN FIRM: Sara De Bondt studio


The Loss Library and Other Unfinished Stories
The Loss Library and Other Unfinished Stories
AUTHOR: Ivan Vladislavic
PUBLISHER: Seagull Books
ART DIRECTOR: Seagull Books
DESIGNER: Jacket design by Sunandini Banerjee


The Tobacco Atlas
The Tobacco Atlas
AUTHOR: Michael Eriksen, Judith Mackay, Hana Ross
PUBLISHER: American Cancer Society
DESIGNER: Language Department
DESIGN FIRM: Language Department


This Will Have Been: Art, Love, and Politics in the 1980s
This Will Have Been: Art, Love, and Politics in the 1980s
AUTHOR: Helen Molesworth (Curator), Sarah Kramer, Kate Steinmann (Editors)
PUBLISHER: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Yale University Press
DESIGNER: James Goggin, Scott Reinhard
DESIGN FIRM: Design, Publishing, and New Media department, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago


Torre David
Torre David
AUTHOR: Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner, Urban–Think Tank Chair of Architecture and Urban Design, ETH Zürich
PUBLISHER: Lars Müller Publishers
ART DIRECTOR: Lars Müller
DESIGNER: Integral Lars Müller
DESIGN FIRM: Integral Lars Müller


Typography 33
Typography 33
AUTHOR: Type Directors Club
PUBLISHER: Harper Design
ART DIRECTOR: Paula Scher
DESIGNER: Kayla Jang, Ludwig Janoff
DESIGN FIRM: Pentagram Design


Uncle Charlie
Uncle Charlie
AUTHOR: Marc Asnin
PUBLISHER: Contrasto
ART DIRECTOR: Giorgio Baravalle
DESIGNER: Giorgio Baravalle
DESIGN FIRM: de.MO Design


Woodcut
Woodcut
AUTHOR: Bryan Nash Gill
PUBLISHER: Princeton Architectural Press
DESIGNER: Deb Wood and Paul Wagner





Observed | February 20

The Sunset Strip occupies a short stretch of Sunset Boulevard, but its reputation as a stomping ground of gangsters, glamour girls, rock stars and hell-raisers has held an oversized fascination for decades. Curbed LA dives deep. Part One. Part Two. [BV]

Should historic logos be protected in the same way as historic buildings? (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | February 19

My new favourite part of Twitter is Josh Lipnik’s tours of the modern architecture of the US midwest. Here he looks at the modern architecture of Columbus, Ohio—houses, schools, churches, banks, and even a cool Space Age horse racing track. [MB]

The authoritative, totally not subjective, incontrovertibly definitive and 100% correct L.A. Times Fast Food French Fry Rankings. [BV]


Observed | February 14

Welcome to 2019. If you value your privacy, don’t get your Valentine an internet-connected sex toy. [BV]


Observed | February 13

Places Journal’s ongoing series “Future Archive” republishes significant 20th-century texts introduced by a prominent scholar. This installment features J.B. Jackson’s 1976 essay on the American garage from Landscape. [BV]

Can multigenerational home-sharing solve LA’s affordability crisis? Alissa Walker explores what it might mean to age in place in LA. [BV]


Observed | February 12

Cubicles are back, and we have open plan offices to thank. [BV]

As emoji become more detailed in their design, they become less useful for communication. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | February 11

#Longread: The Five Families of Feces—the porta-potty business is as dirty as you’d think. [BV]

The world’s watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail by Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs. [BV]

Photography writes with light, but not everything wants to be seen. [JH]


Observed | February 07

Are we heading towards extreme overpopulation or a decline in humans? Questioning the UN population model. [BV]


Observed | February 06

What if everything you knew about the history of pizza in America was false? [BV]

A special class of vivid, textural words defy linguistic theory: could ‘ideophones’ unlock the secrets of humans’ first utterances? [BV]

Social media has spawned a generation of un-Strunk-and-White-ified people who appear to believe that punctuation is optional, that grammar is for the elderly, and that ending a sentence with a period is a deliberate act of aggression. The guardian of grammar, Benjamin Dreyer, wants that to change. [BV]


Observed | February 05

Innovative interaction design helps Chinese families stay emotionally connected through the Chinese New Year while being geographically scattered. [BV]


Observed | February 04

Was architecture better under socialism? [BV]

Ganbreeder is an experiment using breeding and sharing to explore complex visual spaces. Or, Ganbreeder is a crazy app where you can merge things like a parakeet with a bubble. 17024009+ images and counting. [BV]


Observed | January 31

Saturday Night Live’s cue cards are still created by hand. And they pay attention to whitespace to make sure the cards are readable from a distance! [BV]

In 2014, microbiologists began a 500-year-long science experiment assuming that science—or some version of it—will still exist in 2514. [BV]


Observed | January 30

The World’s Writing Systems allows you to interact with the 292 currently-known writing systems as they are encoded in the Unicode standard. [BV]

A growing crowd-sourced gallery of crazy mass transit fabric patterns. [BV]


Observed | January 29

For six amazing years—from 2006 to 2012—I led the design advisory group on the Citizen‘s Stamp Advisory Committee, with a terrific group of people from all across the country. What a delight to talk about it! [JH]

The 52-year history of the Yale Building project: pushing architecture students out of their studios and into communities they can positively affect. (Support The Yale Herald‘s Kickstarter!) [BV]

Emily Gosling on the magical, imperfect grids of Anni Albers. [MB]


Observed | January 28

The Letterform Archive opened it’s doors in 2015. In 2019 they are opening their virtual doors to a curated collection of over 50,000 items related to lettering, typography, calligraphy, and graphic design, spanning thousands of years of history. [BV]

How does one judge the historic 50 Books | 50 Covers competition? Our jury chair, and Design Observer co-founder, Jessica Helfand talks to The Monocle Weekly. [BV]


Observed | January 24

A talk with Olivier Kugler about his most recent book, “Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters With Syrian Refugees”: a first hand record of the tragic souls who have been forced to leave their homeland and the disappointments, frustrations, and deprivations they’ve experienced as they attempt to make new lives. [BV]

Who owns collusion? In a case that’s a “Russian nesting doll of stupidity,” EFF’s Daniel Nazer defends against an unlikely trademark claim. [MB]



Jobs | February 20