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Designers Don't Read 1st Edition

10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1581156652
ISBN-10: 1581156650
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Austin Howe has spent decades as a copywriter, creative director, agency principal, and freelancer for some of the top agencies in the world, including design agencies such as JDK, Sandstrom Partners, Cahan & Associates, and Bob Dinetz Design, as well as advertising agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, Wieden+Kennedy, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, TBWA\Chiat\Day, and Deutsch. The author of Designers Don’t Read and Designers Don't Have Influences, he has worked on naming, branding, print campaigns, posters, packaging, websites, digital advertising, TV, radio, and viral campaigns. In addition to receiving hundreds of international creative awards, Howe was the first-ever radio jury chairman for the Clio Awards and has served on the Clio executive jury. He currently teaches portfolio classes and creative concept development, and has conducted creative workshops for Portfolio and Creative Circus in Atlanta, Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, and Publicis in Seattle. He lives in Portland, Oregon.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Allworth Press; 1 edition (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581156650
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581156652
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

(From Designers Don't Read)

How the Saarinen Family Saved Me From Becoming the Sausage King

It almost seemed like manifest destiny: I was born for meat-related greatness. My grandfather, my father and his three brothers, their wives, my cousin, nephew and two half brothers all worked for the family business, Economy Sausage--at one time quite the going concern in Canada. My father, Alfred Howe, was the one who wrote their amazing tagline that graced all manner of trucks, playing cards, ashtrays and pencils: The sausage that made little piggies famous. Yup. That's the kind of genius DNA that I inherited. And I would have inherited a whole lot more if I had decided to go into pork products instead of advertising and design. My only sibling also managed to escape by becoming a corporate attorney.

There it was: the whole sausage world open before me and yet my only fascinations at age seven and eight--much to my father's consternation and concern--were Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67 on the Marc-Drouin Quay in Montreal, the Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland (which I was constantly drawing), redline Hot Wheels (the purple Silhouette, in particular), certain advertisements (which I would clip out and file or hang on my bedroom wall), and, for some odd reason, Eero Saarinen's Tulip Table and Chairs. There was also some weird obsession with royal blue carpeting (which I finally convinced my parents to let me have in my room), but I'll leave that to a professional psychotherapist to figure out.

These things--particularly Habitat, the House of the Future and the Tulip Table and Chairs--completely captured my imagination. I didn't think of them as being products of "modernism," because I wouldn't even process that term for several years. There was just something about those fluid, playful-yet-fully-functional forms that rocked my world and haunted a small piece of real estate somewhere in my psyche right up until this moment. But it was a happy haunting, because somehow Eero Saarinen's voice spoke through his design directly to me, saying, in effect, "There is this beautiful, perfect vision out there, that will bubble right up out of your personality, and it will have a lasting impact."

You know the Saarinens' story, I'm sure. Finnish, emigrated to the United States in the 1920s, architect dad Eliel taught at Cranbrook, where Eero studied sculpture and furniture design alongside Charles and Ray Eames, and where he befriended Florence Knoll. Eero went on to study architecture at Yale and eventually opened his own practice. In addition to projects like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the TWA Flight Center at JFK, he collaborated with Knoll on a number of furniture projects--including the Tulip Table and Chairs in the late fifties. The iconic table and chairs are still in production, and, in my humble opinion, are still as "fluid and playful-yet-fully-functional" today as they were when they were first introduced and when they first showed up on my radar. (Check them out at Design Within Reach.)

The point (in case you were worried that I didn't have one): your work--maybe not all of it, but the best of it--speaks. And it can speak over decades. It can speak into the life of an eight year old boy, and capture his imagination in such a way that it literally changes the course of his life. It can make him turn his back on "the sausage that made little piggies famous" and pursue a beautiful, perfect vision that bubbles right up out of his personality and (hopefully) has a lasting impact.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By kr on December 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
3.0 Min.

Given the lack of critical reviews of Austin Howe's "Designers Don't Read" on, I believe the title may be the most true thing about this book--that designers don't read, and read Howe's book thinking it's good and worthy of five stars.

As both a full-time graphic designer and hobbyist writer who reads voraciously, I feel a need to chime in. I read this book in a couple days and I have to say I've come to its other cover wondering what the hell I was supposed to have gotten out of it, and more, how did this dude get published with this material?

Austin Howe's writing is neither interesting or insightful. There is little to no message or wisdom in what he rattles on about in his supposed "essays," and one can only speculate why he thought this book would be of value to anyone, particularly designers since the title is quite inciting toward them.

Howe prides himself that he only works with graphic designers in his creative process, and the reasoning for this exaggerated respect can only be described as both unfounded and creepy. He is needlessly and obnoxiously vague about who his "favorite designers" are, and while I've never worked with the unimaginative advertising art directors he describes, he seems to put graphic designers on a pedestal while not explaining why.

Additionally, Howe is a bias modernist: the obligatory reference to Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead," his man-crushes on design celebrities Paul Rand, Massimo Vignelli, and Jay Chiat, while dancing on the proverbial graves of Zuzana Litko, Émigré, and David Carson do nothing to convince me he's an open-minded individual.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alfredo Muccino on November 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
The title of this book caught my attention...but the clever writing is what sold me.

I have been in the design profession for a long time (I am a Creative Director at a branding firm), and during my career I have definitely encountered a few too many designers that don't read nearly enough. At times I think that some don't read at all. Don't get me wrong they buy books, and subscribe to magazines...but all too often it's about the pretty pictures.

Well...Austin Howe's splendid little book does not have any pictures. What it does have is lots of well chosen words, strung together in sentences that are often funny...and also inspiring. It is a clever book that reminded me why I fell into my profession...and why I work countless hours - and love every second of it. Doing creative work requires people who are committed to ideas and know how to express them through words and images that make those ideas not only clear...but compelling, memorable, and inspiring.

Through anecdotes and quotes from a wide variety of books, Austin proves that he does quite a bit of reading himself....and in so doing I hope he will inspire young (as well as mature designers) to continue broadening their horizons...and feed their intellectual curiosity. Good design is intelligent...not just pretty.

I will buy many copies of this book...and have the folks at my agency read it. I know that it will help us be a better agency. I hope that many others will follow suit...if nothing else, the book makes for an entertaining read...and the chapters are short and sweet.

Alfredo Muccino
Chief Creative Officer
Liquid Agency
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mjc on July 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm a designer. It really is hard to find time to read. And when I do, I want to read something good. Something with lasting power. Something worth remembering and sharing. Something like what Austin Howe has compiled in Designers Don't Read. It's crisp, audacious and stirring. Howe's written such compelling, digestible content. I've already scribbled all over on the pages connecting the dots between so many half-thoughts I've had that he's fully articulated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Houston on December 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is also great for copywriters who don't read. If you are a working creative, it is fairly easy to impress a client with an idea, but it takes being creative about the act of being creative, to come up with ideas that will impress yourself. This author, and his book, give quick and simple inspiration to always be learning, always be seeking, always be developing the exercise of consistent creativity.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Ciccone on March 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
There is nothing educational or witty within Designers Don't Read, only essays on how cool the author is with his collectible "favorite designers" and overall disatisfaction with the advertising industry. Learn why the author only works directly with designers, thinks art directors and ad agencies are bumbling bafoons, why name dropping only works if one has heard of them, how Paul Rand was the Jesus Christ of graphic design, etc. This is really a book that wants to be the How to Win Friends and Influence People of the creative corporate world, but Austin Howe is no Dale Carnegie, and Designers Don't Read is as throw-away as Ad Week. How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul is far and away more insightful and inspiring. For high-horse creative director DBs only.
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