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Design by Nature: Using Universal Forms and Principles in Design (Voices That Matter) Paperback – October 3, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Voices That Matter
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (October 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321747763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321747761
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

About the Author

Maggie Macnab has been creating iconic logos and graphic design since the early 1980s, fueled by her passion for nature and her love of design and the creative problem-solving process. Maggie’s work has been recognized by Communication Arts, Print magazine, Step-by-Step Graphics, the American Advertising Federation, the New York Art Directors Club, and the AIGA. She speaks at conferences and schools in the United States and abroad, has owned Macnab Design since 1981, and teaches design theory at the University of New Mexico and Santa Fe University of Art and Design. She is the author of Decoding Design: Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication.

Visit www.designbynaturebook.com for additional exercises and information.


More About the Author

Maggie Macnab has been recognized as an innovative visual communicator for over three decades. Her work has been published in international design industry publications and has received honors throughout her career. She is adjunct faculty at various universities and schools in New Mexico, and is past president of the Communication Artists of New Mexico. Maggie speaks for conferences (a two-time speaker for TEDx), guest lectures and gives workshops for schools and groups, and consults on developing cohesively strategic and creative identities with clients. Her first design theory book "Decoding Design: Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication" (F+W, 2008), won awards and is also available in Chinese. "Design by Nature" (Peachpit Press, 2012) is the recipient of the 2012 Nonfiction Award from the National Federation of Press Women, the 2012 Winner for Nonfiction from New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, and was awarded first place for translated books in 2013 from the Iranian Book News Association. "Design by Nature" is available in English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean, Spanish and Farsi.

Her newest project, "Designing Effective Logos", a training video produced by Peachpit Press, will release as a dvd and streaming video series in October 2014.

More information is also available on www.decodingdesign.com, www.designbynaturebook.com or www.macnabdesign.com. A new website, www.maggiemacnab.com will launch in November 2014.

Author photo: ABQ the Magazine/Liz Lopez

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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When Maggie first described the thrust of this book to me, I was intrigued.
Thomas C. Miles
A must-buy for design students, clearly even the most senior and established of design practitioners (of every ilk) will advance their knowledge by reading it.
Robert L. Peters
Maggie Macnab has tapped into this current in her new book, Design by Nature, where she attempts to formalize the Natural World's impact on the design process.
Crosscultural Design (XCD)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. Peters on December 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
"My father taught me that nature was beautiful, powerful, and mysterious--and always to be respected," writes author Maggie Macnab. "Nature was the source of all that is and an infinitely creative and patient mentor." A longtime designer and teacher herself, she delivers the theme of her latest book with eager sincerity: "Nature is the one touchstone all human beings relate and respond to... conscious observation is all it takes... the most reliable, available, and truthful mentor is right outside your door. Nature has an answer for any question you ask if you just relearn how to hear its answer."

The title of this remarkably captivating design theory book clearly states its purpose, and the book's structure builds on the author's premise that "You already know nature in your heart because you are nature... most people simply have a case of modern-day amnesia caused by out-of-sync human systems that we are brought up in."

Three sections ("Memory: Remembering What We Know; Matter: Understand and Create; and, Motion: The Experience Enhanced") are broken into nine chapters, each of which clearly lays out key concepts, learning objectives, definitions, and exercises to help put learning into practice (this serves to position the book ideally as an educational primer). Beyond the content of the information-rich 300 pages (a visual feast, with hundreds of intriguing entry-points) innumerable additional resources and external links are provided to further empower the reader.

Maggie writes with a bold confidence born of experience, a deep understanding of her subject matter, and a passion for sharing the "why" behind nature-inspired form.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jess Hayes on December 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
I have decided to edit this review because I've been exposed to some more books on the topic of fractals and the mathematics of nature, and have reconsidered this book's value. This is a beautiful book with intriguing theories. I believe that we have oodles to learn from nature and that as designers we need to be attuned to the world around us, but I found her bold stances somewhat contrived and more subject to politics than objective observations. It is worth noting that she has shared her work as a TED talker, so obviously she is blowing a lot of minds. I'd see if this is in your local library first... and keep also keep an eye out for The Painter's Secret Geometry: A Study of Composition in Art, which studies the underlying structure to history's most beautiful art pieces. I wish that McNabb's book had the same academic rigor, but perhaps this way it will reach more audiences.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jacob Van Ness on December 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
As designers we tend to be very aware of the environment around us. Unfortunately sometimes that environment becomes much more of a man made one. We tend to forget to look out the window, step out the door and notice where design really all started... in nature. Design by Nature does a wonderful job of opening our eyes as designers to what nature truly has to offer in the realm of design.

Author of Design by Nature, Maggie Macnab is a well recognized designer who started in the early 1980s using her love of nature and design to create some iconic logo designs. Recognized by some of the biggest publications in the industry, Communications Arts, Print, Step by Step Graphics and the New York Art Directors Club, Maggie has a very keen sense of the world around her, especially nature. She wrote Design by Nature to help designers and creative thinkers see what they have been missing, hoping they would have a few "a-ha" moments.

Nature is full of patterns. These patterns have been there for millions and millions of years. They are part of us, even if we have forgotten they are. Design by Nature helps us remember and shows us how these patterns from nature can make use better communicators and designers. From the pattern of how cells form to protect an embryo to the spiral pattern of our universe itself, it is all part of our life and all ties to how we design. Maggie does an amazing job of reawakening us as designers with easy to understand examples and great exercises at the end of each section. You don't just read about it, you have the chance to apply it right away with these exercises. Making it even more clear just how much is around us and how we really need to look towards it for inspiration.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Airey on December 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
If you liked Maggie's previous book, Decoding Design, you'll love this. Design by Nature includes plenty of exercises to get your creative juices flowing, and features guest designer studies from Stefan Sagmeister, Von Glitschka, Erik Spiekermann, Debbie Millman, Ellen Lupton, and many more. It takes an in-depth look at relationships between nature, design, economics, geometry, and art.

In Maggie's own words, "This book is a reminder that there is no system more powerful, more creative, or more truthful than nature. Acknowledge it. Appreciate it. Use it. It belongs to you, and you belong to it."

Well-worth a read for designers and creatives of all types.
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