Our Summer Reading List, 2014

Illustration of a stack of books

As dedicated but typically distracted readers, we often wonder what titles our friends and colleagues are reading—and wishing we had the time to take in the books ourselves. Summer gives us an opportunity to play catch up, and a chance to ask around for recommendations. In our continuing tradition of gathering summer reading lists, we consulted several of our inspiring collaborators from the design projects and programs we’ve been involved in over the past year. The polled include our fellow participants in “Implementing Impact! The Business of Social Design,” a one-week workshop on design for social impact, presented by the School of Visual Arts Impact: Design for Social Change program; our partners in <codr>, an app we helped create as part of the 12-Week Prototyping Bootcamp for educators and technologists, presented by EDesign Lab and 4.0 Schools; and our teammates in Design/Relief, the AIGA/NY initiative to help areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.

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20 Lessons in Interaction Design

Spread Designing from "20 Lessons in Interaction Design"

Illustration by Brian Rea, 20 Lessons in Interaction Design

Interaction design is usually thought of as design of interfaces for screen-based applications like iPads, iPhones, websites and social media. While it includes all these things, it is at heart a broader discipline that designs experiences and relationships—between people and technology, people and objects, people and services, and people and people.

The ubiquity of interaction design—and its importance to designers of all kinds—is highlighted in 20 Lessons in Interaction Design: Stories from SVA’s MFA Interaction Design Alumni, a new book Li’l Robin designed for the School of Visual Arts in New York. We collaborated on the project with Liz Danzico, the founding chairperson of the SVA MFA Interaction Design program, and the illustrator Brian Rea. Instead of developing a traditional marketing brochure, Liz wanted to create a special publication that gave readers a look at the design thinking of the program’s graduates and what they’ve learned since they finished school.

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The Graphic Designer-Entrepreneur

In addition to commissioned work, many graphic designers are now creating self-initiated projects that allow them to extend their practice in new ways. We recently launched our first product, Li’l Stories, a series of cards that provide storytelling ideas for parents. In this post we take a look at other designer-entrepreneurs who have taken on a new kind of client—themselves.

If designers have one thing in common, it’s the desire to make things. This is usually engaged for an external client, but many graphic designers have been scratching the creative itch by becoming entrepreneurs themselves, launching their own product lines and authoring their own projects. The online space has helped enable this, offering an easy platform for direct sales and distribution. For most designers, the impetus for these new ventures seems to be less about developing a new profit center for their businesses—though that is certainly a possibility for some of the most successful—and more about designing something solely guided by their own vision.

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Our Summer Reading List, 2013

Last year, in a bit of crowdsourcing for book discovery, we asked around for recommendations of what to read on our summer vacation and happily found several titles to add to our own list of favorites. This year we thought we’d continue the tradition and have once again surveyed our community of designers, friends and clients for suggestions of the best books they’ve recently read. Their responses include titles that have influenced their work and design thinking, as well as books they’ve simply enjoyed. We share the titles here, and you can also find them on a new bookshelf on our site. Which books will you be picking up this summer?

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Inside Publishing’s First Hackathon

Evoke, map view

Character map from Evoke by Jill Axline, Lisa Maione and Jason Pearson

As readers increasingly find their books online rather than in brick-and-mortar bookstores, publishers are looking for digital strategies to introduce people to the books they’ll want to read. The first “Publishing Hackathon” recently brought together innovators from the worlds of publishing, design and technology to conceptualize new ways to connect readers and books—without the bookshelves.

Hackathons have become a tried-and-true approach for the collaborative development of apps and websites, but the Publishing Hackathon was the first time the book industry has officially hosted one of the competitive matchups. Publishing has yet to find the “killer app” that recreates the pleasant surprise of coming across an interesting, unexpected title when browsing a bookstore. Buying anything is now as easy as pushing a button, but with the staggering choice of over 200,000 books published every year, how do readers decide which book is right for them?

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