What should designers read in the times of social distancing — II

Second of the five-part series on essential reads for a designer

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Our second recommendation list is curated by a talented designer and a voracious reader, Ruchita Madhok. Madhok’s list includes a book that held her hand through a seminal life-decision, a book she often returns to, and a book that is helping her keep sane in these times of despair. Here is what she recommends:

Studio Culture: The Secret Life of the Graphic Design Studio by Adrian Shaughnessy and Tony Brook

Shaughnessy and Brook conducted in-depth interviews with design studios as big as Pentagram to independent designers running their own show. The book is filled with behind-the-scenes of a design studio—precious insights on how the business is run, modus operandi and studio culture. For Madhok this is the one book that got her in the right mindset when she was setting up her own studio practice, Kahani. “I figured, if they can do it, I can do it. And there are so many ways to thrive,” she says. Kahani Designworks thrived. It is one the of most successful studios in India today. And Madhok hasn’t forgotten the help and encouragement she received from Studio Culture. “The new edition was to be opened up on Kickstarter on 31st March. I’ll be first one supporting it,” she says.

 

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher

Alan Gerard Fletcher was a British graphic designer who published the seminal book, The Art of Looking Sideways, five years before his death in 2006. The book is a lifetime’s work by the brilliant graphic designer, and is filled with his observations, and thoughts, finished and unfinished. Fletcher has divided the book into 72 sections, but the book is largely unstructured. Many sections are fast-paced and fun to read, making it perfect for those who have lost touch with reading books. The Art of Looking Sideways is packed with interesting and quirky copy and visuals that would keep designers riveted. Ultimately, it’s the ideas for which you will keep coming back to the book.

 

Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee

Fetell Lee’s book was published in 2018 but is a suitable read for these times. “This is keeping me sane right now. It’s quite well… joyful and positive,” Madhok said about Joyful. In her first review in the industrial design program at the Pratt Institute, Lee’s professors said that her work gave them a feeling of joy, but couldn’t explain what that feeling exactly was. That set her on a journey to researching ‘joy’. The book has ten chapters that focus on positive case studies and power of joy. We agree with Madhok that this book is a good read for life during Covid 19.

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