Influential Design Books

Apologies if something along these lines has been posted already…

I was curious what books have influenced your creative or design processes. Two of my professors have stressed the importance of curating a design library and gave several suggestions on getting started. I was able to pick up used copies of most of their recommendations (listed below), and I was hoping to hear what others in the industry enjoy reading on design, or any other topic. I’ve got a few on minimalism and sustainability I’m hoping to read as well, and I’d love to hear your recommendations and discuss your thoughts!

  • Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler

Geometry of Design: Studies in Proportion and Composition by Kimberly Elam

Elements of Design: Rowena Reed Kostellow and the Structure of Visual Relationships by Gail Greet Hannah

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink

Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change by Victor Papanek

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

Design Secrets: Products (Design Secrets) by Industrial Designers Society of America

Design Secrets: Products 2: 50 Real-Life Projects Uncovered by Lynn Haller, Cheryl Dangel Cullen, and Industrial Designers Society of America

By Design: Why There Are No Locks on the Bathroom Doors in the Hotel Louis XIV and Other Object Lessons by Ralph Caplan

Cracking The Whip: Essays On Design And Its Side Effects by Ralph Caplan

Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discover and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Thinkertoys: A handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques by Michael Michalko

Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

Why Not? How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small by Barry Nalebuff & Ian Ayres

The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun

The Creative Priority by Jerry Hirshberg

Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson

EcoDesign: The Sourcebook by Alastair Fuad-Luke

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works by Dan Harris

Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Essential: Essays by The Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Aircraft, by Le Corbusier, it is a funky short book, presumable about aircraft but really about how he saw technology could reshape culture. It can be read in about 30 minutes.

The Best Interface is No Interface. This book was recommended by a friend, and we both work in the furniture industry. Although the book talks a lot about the digital world, its been incredibly inspiring and changed the way I think about interfacing with products.

Currently reading Designing Design by Kenya Hara which has some interesting perspectives.
I also like:
Super Normal by Naoto Fukasawa & Jasper Morrison
Okala Practitioner by iDSA
The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christiansen

Thanks for putting together that list!

I could also recommend a couple books from IDEO’s Tom Kelley:

The Art of Innovation


The Ten Faces of Innovation

Only available in french and examples might be a bit outdated but it was definitively a reference in college:

Elements de Design Industriel by Danielle Quarante

I recommend first establishing your design philosophy from a certain scientific view, then developing a library around it.
My favorite book relating to design is “Invention and Evolution” by M.J. French. It’s fairly basic but it’s a gem in the way it shows how to think for integrating form and function.

And don’t forget the classic “Industrial Design” by John Heskett.