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Design by Numbers Paperback – October 1, 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

John Maeda shows graphic designers how to step back a level and create their own digital tools. His elegant book could change the way we think about graphic design; I hope it will.

(William J. Mitchell, Dean, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT)

About the Author

An internationally recognized leader at the intersection of design and technology, John Maeda is Design Partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in Silicon Valley. He served until 2014 as the 16th President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and before that was Associate Director of the MIT Media Lab. He is a designer, technologist, and catalyst behind the national movement to transform STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to STEAM with the addition of the arts. He is the author of Design by Numbers (1999), The Laws of Simplicity (2006) and Redesigning Leadership (2011), all published by The MIT Press.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Reprint edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262632446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262632447
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,153,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist John Maeda is President of the Rhode Island School of Design and founder of the SIMPLICITY Consortium at the MIT Media Lab. His work has been exhibited in Tokyo, New York, London, and Paris and is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Smithsonian Institution National Design Award in the United States, the Raymond Loewy Foundation Prize in Germany, and the Mainichi Design Prize in Japan.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is both a book and an interactive tutorial in computer programming for artists and designers. While it is now common for printed books to include CD-ROMs, this one has instead its own website where free software, called DBN (Design By Numbers), can be accessed, downloaded, and used by anyone with a JAVA-enabled browser. Using the book and website in combination, it is the intention of the author (who heads the Aesthetics and Computation group at MIT) that designers, even those who are "mathematically challenged," might quickly acquire "the skills necessary to write computer programs that are themselves visual expressions," and, as a consequence, "come to appreciate the computer's unique role in the future of the arts and design." Unfortunately, the layout of the book is so unexceptional (particularly the dust jacket, which might have been used in a powerful way) that it is unlikely to convert any graphic designers, who create far more complex forms intuitively, with little or no knowledge of programming. As a result, it may only reach those who need it least, meaning those who are already straddling the line between art and mathematics, between graphic design and computer programming. (Copyright by Roy R. Behrens from Ballast Quarterly Review, Vol. 14, No. 4, Summer 1999.)
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Format: Hardcover
I like this book a lot, but the thing I like best has nothing to do with programming --- It's the attention to typographic detail.
Beautiful grey/black combinations, meticulous rags, tiny illustrations and a very interesting grid make this the best looking book with sample code I've ever seen.
It's a book about method, so if it's Maeda's work you want to see, I assume his next book is the one you want.
It is a beautifully made basic primer which articulates the virtues of a new technology for design-- it has a proud place on my shelf next to 'Grid Systems' by Josef Mueller-Brockmann and 'Typography' by Emil Ruder.
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Format: Hardcover
I am an artist who became a programmer many years ago. While it is a difficult transition, it is not quite as uncommon as I thought. If this book had existed back then, it'd have been much easier and more fun.
I occasionally train people in how to program, I bought Design by Numbers because it starts at the beginning. Instead of going the "Hello, World!" route, it teaches how to use programming to get visual results instead of textural results. This book has been designed for visual people to learn the basics of programming logic, in my mind, that means it will work for just about everybody.
When I'm teaching, I tell my students that the biggest hump is learning the programming logic, not the language. Once you've got the understanding of the logic, each new language you learn becomes easier to pick up. This book does a great job at assuming nothing and explaining everything.
Lastly, it is very attractively designed, so it will appeal to the artist.
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Format: Hardcover
Not meant to teach a useful programming language, as the last reviewer seems to have expected, but a critical innovation in the way design is taught. Design by Numbers is meant to teach digital designers the language their tools already speak, but which students rarely learn. There's compromises for both programmers and deisgners here--and that it's slow in your browser is certainly not an important one--but this book offers insights for both camps. It's also quite attractive and contains more information than you'd expect on a quick flip through.
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