karlssonwilker inc.'s tellmewhy: The First 24 Months of a New York Design Company
Sell Us Your Item
For a $1.11 Gift Card
Trade in
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Tell the Publisher!
I'd like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

karlssonwilker inc.'s tellmewhy: The First 24 Months of a New York Design Company [Turtleback]

Clare Jacobson , Jan Wilker And Hjalti Karlsson , Stefan Sagmeister
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.

Shop the New Digital Design Bookstore
Check out the Digital Design Bookstore, a new hub for photographers, art directors, illustrators, web developers, and other creative individuals to find highly rated and highly relevant career resources. Shop books on web development and graphic design, or check out blog posts by authors and thought-leaders in the design industry. Shop now

Book Description

September 1, 2003
Why would two talented and employable young graphic designers start up their own practice without any clients, in the midst of a recession, and in a city brimming with world-renowned designers? Karlssonwilker inc.'s tellmewhy is the improbable story of such a venture -- or act of bravura or insanity -- on the part of Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker, and offers a telling, humorous, and always human insight into the workings of a young startup design studio, showcasing every single project they did in their first two years.
A book as iconoclastic as their designs, tellmewhy features fresh stories of karlssonwilker's ordinary office live and its less-than-romantic tales about rooftop parties, battles with immigration, language obstacles, missed meetings, and money problems. Despite these stories -- and because of others -- karlssonwilker has produced an impressive body of work in two short years. Tellmewhy shows the happy endings, including signage for a Philadelphia restaurant, logo designs for a New York fashion house, and CD packaging for both independent and major music labels. And it presents the few unrealized designs, like an ad campaign for a TV network. All share the designers' creative and humorous take on design.
Karlssonwilker intersperses these examples with its singular illustrated diagrams, faux flow charts linking the partners' biographies, work, social lives, and whatever comes to their unique minds.
Tellmewhy offers both inspiration and caution for designers everywhere. A foreword by former employer Stefan Sagmeister recalls karlssonwilker's start in his design office.

Editorial Reviews


...by the time you get to the firm's album covers for the Vines, you'll be a jaded industry expert. -- Washington Post

A disarmingly honest account...A surprisingly engaging book that raised a smile. -- Grafik: Journal of the Best in International Design

It takes guts to publish a book showcasing your failures, doodles, and unrealized projects as well as your successes. -- STEP Inside Design

The good, the bad, and the hungry tale of two young European designers setting up shop in New York. -- ReadyMade

a gift to anyone starting their own design office. -- Susan Yelavich, I.D. The International Design Magazine

Important Information

Example Ingredients

Example Directions

Product Details

  • Turtleback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568984162
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568984162
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,362,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Clare Jacobson is a Shanghai-based design writer, editor, and curator. She is the author of the book New Museums in China and co-author of Karlssonwilker Inc.'s Tell Me Why: The First 24 Months of a New York Design Company. She is a contributing editor to Architectural Record, and her articles have also appeared in Engineering News Record, Randian, Architectural Review Asia Pacific, Azure, Landscape Architecture, and other magazines. As editor and editorial director at Princeton Architectural Press for 21 years, she originated, acquired, and developed more than 120 books on architecture, graphic design, landscape architecture, photography, and visual culture.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MADE WITH GOOD LITTLE TREES October 10, 2003
At work I often times like to check out what's hot on the graphic design book circuit at Amazon.... This past Monday was no exception.... as I was browsing I came upon karlssonwilker's "tellmywhy" .... I was already a fan of Hjalti Karlsson's work from his hay days with Stefan "el capitan de designo" Sagmeister.... and thought it would be great to read up on how life was after "style=fart" .....I hit the add to cart button.... received the book in the mail 2 days later.... and couldn't put it down till I was done consuming all of its goodness.....
If there were a survey that came along with this book it would look like this:
Did you like this book? YES
Is this book enjoyable? YES
Did you find the book funny/smart/genius/interesting/sexy? YES
Would you recommended it to your friends? YES
If this book were a music album, would you buy it in all of its different formats? YES
well played karlssonwilker!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I haven't been able to put this book down all day. I brushed my teeth with it, took a shower with it, spilled my morning coffee on it, almost passed a red light while reading it. "Tellmewhy" captures the true spirit of creativity and the struggles of two people to stay original in a society that endorses "safe" graphic design. I highly recommend this book... oh, and say hi to Hjalti's mom.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
"Tellmewhy" is essential for any graphic designer, chock full of beautifully designed pieces the small studio did in their first 24 months of opening. Karlssonwilker tell us everything, from the most used words in the office to the studio's favorite lunch time drinks - complete with detailed graphs and charts. It's refreshing to see all the humor included, a much needed and appreciated change for a design monograph. Buy this book, you'll thank yourself later.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Design Books I Ever Read February 23, 2006
By W. Han
Quite possible one of the most honest and funny books on design, I kid you not. Truly entertaining and thoughtful for designers of any field, not just graphic design. It works both as a story and an inspirational monograph of their quirky and smart work.

I purchased several copies for many friends in design and plan on purchasing several more. No doubt this would make a great stocking stuffer for the designer in your life and with Amazon's discounted rate with Super Saver Shipping it seems ridiculous to only buy just one copy.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars buy this book October 2, 2003
Format:Turtleback|Verified Purchase
This book belongs between TIBOR and MADE YOU LOOK. One on the funniest and smartest books on design there is. Period.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and Inspiring December 10, 2004
First off, this is not a self help book for designers looking to open their own firm. I'm not sure why the person below me thought that. However, the side effect of wanting to start a firm does sink in after reading this. I read the book cover to cover in a few hours, as I had a hard time putting it down. They could have titled this book, "The Advertising Adventures of Hjalti and Jan". Point is, there is something every designer here can relate to: dealing with clients. The ones you hope to get, and the ones you hope don't call back. What i find particularly inspiring is how this book has not changed them. if you go to their site: [...] they are still rockin the same website. Then again, maybe they haven't had time to change it once all the jobs poured in from this book's success. Or perhaps, they are just like you and I, working from a loft trying to make a dent in the design world, and hoping to be published in the design annual. That's what sets this book apart from most monographs, is that they don't achive ultimate success in the end. They are still bidding for clients and that keeps them humble. There is no secret behind their method of design, other than natural talent for creativity. Sometimes we can lose sight of why we chose this profession. Sometimes we take jobs purely for the money. Stay inspired and buy this book. You will contribute 58˘ to their beer fund. Thank you karllsonwilker!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ain't nothing but a heartache... September 23, 2005
This book is definitely worth buying it. I was reading MADE YOU LOOK, and that's the reason I gave this book 4 stars. Dont get me wrong, TELLMEWHY is amazing, creative and HAPPY. I get the impression Hjalti and Jan still haven't made their masterpiece, yet, you can tell that they're on the way to achive that. KARLSSONWILKER offers the kind of the design you say to yourself : I CAN DO THAT WELL EASY, until you get your canvas and realize that is their style and it's not only the massive use of DIN, TRADE GOTHIC or HELVETICA fonts. It's absolutely more than that. 5 Stars for Karlssonwilker inc. 4 stars for their book, and I'm pretty sure I'll give them 6 on the upcoming BOOK.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read!
It's an honest and funny recap of the rough beginnings of starting a new studio, without coloring anything. Once you start you can't put it down! I loved it!
Published 13 months ago by soccer
4.0 out of 5 stars Muy Bueno...
Really good design book... an excellent referent if you are going to start your own business...
It's not the best but is really good!!!!
Published on May 30, 2011 by Bernardo
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb. Don't listen to the low reviews
There needs to be more books like this. God knows, how many of us have gone to the store, flipped through these books, and moved onto the next part of the shelf. Read more
Published on August 29, 2008 by Moonlighting Designer
3.0 out of 5 stars review
Interesting read. Not a typical showcase of a glut of spectacular design, but creatively inspiring. Clever lads!
Published on February 8, 2007 by Kate
2.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, but little information.
This was an OK read. It was inspiring but for the amount of content, they had way too many pictures as filler. I felt perhaps this would have been better as a magazine article.
Published on March 28, 2005 by Thomas L.
1.0 out of 5 stars Less than 20% of this 200+ page book is text
I heard of Karlssonwilker when they first started and was very impressed with the work they produced. Unfortunately this book is not one of them. Read more
Published on December 2, 2004 by RemyC
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexy Fun
These guys do some fantastic work and have produced a wonderful book. They should be commended for the effort and so too should the publisher for taking a chance on such a random... Read more
Published on December 30, 2003 by Wayde Tardif
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

Citations (learn more)
This book cites 7 books:
See all 7 books this book cites

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category