where are the ID textbooks

which is more important> doing or reading

  • doing
  • reading

0 voters

So I was out with some friends and we ended up at an antique store. I found an old book from the 50’s(??) called “drawing in industry”. Basically it was a quick book on how to draw products in perspective and exploded views etc. It had a funny quote, in very large type, that said, “Everyone interested in drawing can not, of course, become a famous artist. We must all find work within our limitations.” LOL…that rocks!

I bought the book.

Then I wondered, where are all of the ID textbooks? Like books with illustrations, how to’s, process documentation and methods, not just design history books about Dresser or Loewy or the Bauhaus or anyone else (which I think is the greatest volume subject).


Please list your industrial design text books here. Give the title, author and a quick blurb about the book.

check out my list here

There’s a difference between ‘books’ and ‘textbooks’.
Here’s a ton of both:


Paul Hatch helped put together a couple of books called “Impact”, and “Realize:design means business” that are good. I hear you can get them through the IDSA bookstore, but I couldn’t find them in there…


do you mean books with no pictures…pah

I meant textbooks…one’s that are written to teach.
but any book will do.

my point is there are very few ID “textbooks”.

I have no idea how you cand get a copy, but at school (Carleton University, School of Industrial Design, Ottawa, Canada)we hada great text book for a class called Mass Productioon Technologies that I would highly recommend. I actually helped redesign the cover for the latest version, but either way, it is indespensible.

It covers the details and basics of every mass manufacturing process from injection molding to sheet metal formaing and slip casting with details such as draft angles angles angles and molding temps and times. i have never seen a better all around reference book, and highly recommend it. including is a full chapter on different plastics (ie. PP, PE ,PS, TPE, PU, PMMA etc.) and conventional uses, and techniques for molding.

if you can get a copy i swear you will never live without it.

Author is Marien de Leeuw from Carleton University. If not available widespread, it should be!

you can always try contacting diane_smyth@carleton.ca
Phone (613) 520 2600 Ext. 559


I found an interesting old book digging around in a thrift store the other day. It was really outdated, but pretty interesting as well:

The story of design
by Marion Downer


She actually wrote quite a few books, another by her that sounded interesting:

Unfortunately, it has a horrible title, but “How To Design Cars Like a Pro” is an excellent primer with a history of car design, interviews with prominent designers, a recap of influential designs, and then some how to’s and tutorials:


Unfortunately not much like this exists in the product world, to my knowledge. There are a lot of great, but cerebral books like
“The Five Faces of Moderninty” and “Design For Society”

Then of corse the Donald Norman books like “Emotional Design” and books like his work: “Where Stuff Comes From” by Harvey Molotoch, and “Watches Tell More than Time” by Del Coates

… and then there are a lot of tutorial based books by Dick Powell, and “Industrial Design Workshop”

AND of corse the coffee table books like “World Design” and “The Product Book”, all of the “Art of Star Wars” series, and any number of books about design firms by design firms…

There isn’t much that hybridizes those categories into a good text book though…

this is what I am talking about!
Everyone knows that IDSA has books listed…even core. I am looking for books in your collection listed here for people to see and use!
Carson-2nd Sight or the End of Print…both by Blackwell

Inventing Kindergarten by Brosterman

sketch and rendering books or modelmaking books or methodology books…there have to be more?
list them here!!!

There are many books out there that talk about the practice of design, but very few manage to really inspire or make you feel you’ve learned something.

I tend to prefer books that are on subjects just outside of our ID world. As designers we tend to see everything through our own ID-tinted glasses, so reading books about psychology, marketing, or even landscape design can actually teach us more about the ID than a design book.

So here’s my list of non-design essentials:
Flow -The Psychology of Optimal Experience - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The Art Of Looking Sideways- Alan Fletcher
The Overspent American- Juliet B Schor
Eat The Rich – P.J. O’Rourke
Cradle To Cradle - McDonough & Braungart
Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance -Robert M. Pirsig
A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

Yo was right about the REALIZE and IMPACT books not being on the IDSA website but I’m told they’re going up next week. They’re both available on Amazon though.

REALIZE- Design Means Business (2006)
REALIZE is a book about how design should become an integral part of business, and is an ideal book to lend that Marketing Director or the head of Engineering who doesn’t yet get it.

IMPACT –The Synergy of Design Business & Technology (2005)
IMPACT is a design book for designers that deals with varoius real-world aspects of design (includes Karim Rashid, Tucker Viemeister, et al)

Sorry if this seems like a plug, but I felt it’s necessary info for this topic.

Check out ROI. It has a pretty interesting mix of business commentary and skills/process based imagery.

I’ve learned a lot about seeing and understanding products from different userperspectives by reading:
“Of bicycles, bakelites, and bulbs” by Wiebe E. Bijker (from Amazon etc.)
It’s not really an ID book, more a book about understanding how society and technology interacts to define products (social constructuvism).

A very good “how-to-sketch” book in my bookcase is:
_“The industrial designer’s guide to sketching” by Nenad Pavel_It’s a lot more contemporary than the classic Dick Powel; Presentation Techniques which covers some of the same skills.

Thanks, I wasn’t aware of that second one:

also, these guys have some good ones:


On my shelves:

Cradle to Cradle
Creating Breakthrough Products

Product Design and Development

Envisioning Information
Worldchanging: A Users Guide for the 21st Century
Mechanisms & Mechanical Devices Sourcebook
The Art of the Start

The Fountainhead

The Alchemist
The Tao of Pooh

im a sucker for old 50’s and 60s industrial textbooks.

Got a great one last time i was in Portland at Powell’s technical bookstore called Plastics Product Design. Everything from wall thicknesses, to draft angles and minimum flow design for sink.

circa 1965 id guess. probably a technologist college course book or something.

have a few others as well about footwear pattern making and marketing.

Love the old stuff, as it is relatively straight forward (before the time when you could google a topic if you didnt get it), and the pics of guys in white lab coats and black horned rimmed glasses just add to the fun!


Powell’s Rocks, largest independent bookstore in the US. Sorry, had to get a Portland plug in there.

Came across this one in Powell’s yesterday:

Design by choice, Rayner Banham


Paul Hatch helped put together a couple of books called “Impact”, and “Realize:design means business” that are good. I hear you can get them through the IDSA bookstore, but I couldn’t find them in there…

IMPACT and REALIZE have now been posted to their ID books page, alongside a number of other recomended reads: