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Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design Paperback – February 29, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
Michael's seasoned perspective on the education of young designers, the events and experiences he turned to his advantage as a young person are enlightening and entertaining. He all but pleads to get young designers to recognize that design revolves around life, rather than the other way around. This book may present a challenge for someone not familiar with the personalities, and particularities of graphic design's inner workings. It is a fascinating and well written perspective on the professional's life, which is notable in that Michael is highly successful designer and a partner in the estimable multinatiional design firm, Pentagram.
This book is worth a read, and the writing makes sense even if you've not seen Michael Bierut at one of his lectures (there's YouTube for that). It's just easier to read if you imagine him saying the words aloud. :)
In their original context the essays would have been targeted at a specific readership and perhaps those readers liked this stuff and were used to it. But when published as a collection, specialist "occupational" essays like these reach far broader audiences who may find the material and style not to their taste - if not downright silly.
Individually, the essays might be worth casually browsing if you have run out of soup can labels; but as a collection read through as a normal book they reveal their shallow superficiality only too graphically. Frankly, after reading the first five essays I already felt cheated.
Take the essay "How to Become Famous", for example. It is basically semi-humorous, insider nonsense that includes exhortations like "when in doubt, make it big. If still in doubt, make it red." OK, that's worth a knowing chuckle the first time you read it, but the humour palls after reading endless injunctions in the same vein.
Here's another example of the pretentious claptrap sprinkled throughout the book: "our traditional conception of graphic design history reduces what is actually a complex and ever-shifting melange of incident and influence to a falsely organised canon of images."
Some of the essays (eg essays 6, 7 and 11) are abbreviated book reviews; but book reviews used as a platform for the essayist to expound his own ideas. In fact, many of the essays seem to be more about their author, the pronoun "I" appears early and frequently, rather than about the subjects themselves.Read more ›
What surprises me most is the depth to which the book reaches on a wide variety of topics on design--from a discussion of t-shirt designs, to falling off a treadmill, it seems that Beirut can find the design in almost anything. That quality in his essays challenges the reader to do the same. Each time I re-read the essays in the book, I come out with a different thing to mull over, a new idea to try in a design solution, or just a funny line to make me smile for a day or two. Few other books I have read rival the long-term rewards of this book.
Perhaps the most fitting way to describe Beirut's mastery of finding the design in the everyday is that same quality he discusses in the essay "What we talk about when we talk about architecture." He begins describing the radio program "Car Talk" where conversations about car troubles can range from philosophy to relationship advice--almost anything, excluding, of course, car trouble. Beirut challenges that design lacks that same kind of community where talking about design can lead to, and connect with, other things.
In this collection of essays, I think he may have found an answer to that.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some very interesting essays. I've started looking up various things that the author mentions ... the YesMen and The Long Telegram, for examplePublished 5 months ago by eric j bell
One of the best things about this book is that each page is in a different font so the book becomes a nice resource of text font samples. Nice design. Read morePublished 9 months ago by angelwiing
I hate to read, however I had a hard time putting this book down. It's one of the few books I've read front to back since finishing high school 34 years ago. That says allot.Published 16 months ago by Rebecca L Hagemann
I'm not a creative person or knowledgeable of graphic design. To be fair to the author, this is like critiquing a book on physics without a knowledge of science. Read morePublished 17 months ago by firstname.lastname@example.org
Short, easily digested essays from one of the smartest designers working today. Great for a quick read during commute or on the can.Published 20 months ago by J.D. Walker
I bought this on a whim as a Kindle bargain. It turned out to be an interesting book. It was worth the purchase for his Arnold Newman story alone.Published on April 19, 2013 by Walter B Turner
Great book for designers with short attention span. Besides from being a great designer, Bierut is a great column writer.Published on February 1, 2013 by Pablo Gonzalez Nicolini