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Designing for People Paperback – November 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Allworth Press (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581153120
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581153125
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Henry S. Dreyfuss is considered the founding father of industrial design and one of the most prolific designers of the past century. Born in New York City in 1904, he authored or inspired countless American design landmarks, including the model 300 Bell telephone, Hoover appliances, the Twentieth Century Limited locomotive, and RCA televisions.

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By David P. Bishop on November 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book, written in 1955, is relevant today in the same way that Fred Brooks' Mythical Man Month has retained its relevance over time.
I found this book very pleasant to read, because Dreyfuss explains his approach to design consulting in an almost anecdotal way without sacrificing the seriousness of the subject. For example, while discussing the importance of investigating users needs, he tells stories about having driven locomotives, spread manure, and performing service calls for the phone company. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the tone of the book lacked the kind of egoism often seen in books like this. Dreyfuss uses language like "we," "our contribution," and "the industrial designer," and includes examples of mistakes and missteps as well as good design examples. In fact, chapter 15, "Not by Design," is devoted to instances where the practitioners made errors and mistaken assumptions.
I recommend reading this book; the design principles put forth transcend many years, and it is as entertaining as it is informative..
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 9, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dreyfuss' "Designing for People" proved an inspiring collection of anecdotes and stories exemplifying the true functions of an industrial designer. Nostalgia combined with some sage-like advice, Dreyfuss reminds the designer of his or her role in the product development field. To paraphrase Dreyfuss: the industrial designer is a person who wears many hats; one who is part artist, engineer, businessman, researcher, politician, builder, and guinea pig. His assessment is accurate and proven, and his words of wisdom should be used as a guideline for all industrial designers in modern times.

That said, Dreyfuss does tend to come across very matter-of-factly at times, leaving little gray area in his black and white world. As a result Mr. Dreyfuss sides with the Bauhaus approach where form follows function-indeed, he often mentions the resulting form of a product as a side-note, if he mentions it at all. Whereas this may be an annoyance for some readers, the lessons you take away from his life experiences are truly informative and insightful.

As the amount of 3D design in product development grows, designers today are faced with the difficulty of "skin designing" verses thoughtful, foundation-based designing. If nothing else, this book should serve as inspiration for those of us in the field to design based on function and aesthetics-we have a duty and responsibility to client and society to base designs on research and thoughtfulness, not simply the known tools in a computer program. In any case, DFP should be on the required reading list for industrial design students to teach the history and guidelines of our profession. "Designing for People" serves as not only a reminder of the way it used to be, but it also inspires the designer to believe how it should be now.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Coleman Yee on April 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Henry Dreyfuss is among the top industrial designers ever, and here he shares many of the experiences from his industrial design projects, many of them dealing with everyday objects that we take for granted.
This book gives insight on many of the thought processes involved in the face of the many projects where he had essentially zero direct experience in. His unrelenting focus on "Joe and Josephine" -- the human actually using the product -- has resulted in an array of user-friendly products, even before that term was used.
He also covers almost anything to do with industrial design, or running an industrial design firm, including starting off, relationships with clients, payment issues, staff management, etc.
This book would be interesting for anyone interested in design in general, or even the merely curious who would like to know why some everyday objects are the way they are.
An easy and interesting read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lassi*aL on April 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is an odd but fascinating book about the business of industrial design in 1930-50's US. It promotes a perspective to design which later generations know as human-centered design. It does not talk about user experience, usability, innovation or design thinking with the terms we have for them today, but it surely gives an interesting perspective for a 21st century reader on the past thinking on these topics.

An interesting comparison is contrast Designing for People to Tim Brown's Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation released 54 years after. It seems reasonable to ask if the field of design has developed at all, maybe except for branding. It seems that the office of Dreyfuss was essentially practicing all methods under the mindset of "design thinking" Brown presented as the holy grail of organizational innovation.

The book holds a quite detailed account of the operation of Henry Dreyfuss and one might call it an autobiography. Biography in a form of a vitae and an industrial design business cook book. This is also the problem of the tome. At best, it provides insights and details, reports from the past which would be otherwise unattainable. At worst, it reads out as a (poorly) guided tour to a trophy room. A short story after short story in an identical format, describing yet another Dreyfuss victory in some exotic field of design. This is emphasized by the result-oriented style of the narrator, which always describes the glorious outcome of the design process, where as the process receives less attention.
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