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There's Nothing Funny About Design Paperback – April 22, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"David Barringer's book, There's Nothing Funny About Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009) is actually very funny. This collection of new and revised essays presents the graphic design world with a kick in the literary pants. Barringer's writing is bluntly personal yet rarely narcissistic; his prose often bristles with the excitement of an angry porcupine, yet it's always grounded in rigorous thinking. No one else in our field is producing writing quite like this. As a self-taught designer, freelance writer, and work-at-home dad, Barringer is both an insider and outsider to the design discourse. He makes sense of what designers do and then takes us apart with his needle-sharp verbal tools." --Ellen Lupton, Design Observer, May 2009

"Turns out there are plenty of funny things about design--and David Barringer expounds on many of them in this thought-provoking collection of essays that covers everything from the ubiquity of skulls to the multifunctional letter X." --ReadyMade Magazine, April/May, 2009

"Here's my latest read that had me miss subway stops: There's Nothing Funny About Design by David Barringer. David's articles, which have appeared in publications from Print to Emigre, are notable for his strong personal point of view, literary style, and even humor, not always attributes associated with writing about design. In this collection of essays, Barringer's first, he wonders why drug names have so many X's in them, ponders the rise of gory DVD covers, and ruminates on his father's business card collection, pythons, and the human skull--proving again and again that design is everywhere you look for it (but may not have seen), without the powerful magnifying lens of this talented and exciting observer and writer." --Roth Eisenberg

"...a collection of observations on the curious mind of the designer." --Riya Patel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (April 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568988281
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568988283
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,914,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Author David Barringer receives the 2008 AIGA Winterhouse Award for design writing and his articles on design have reflected both humor and literary criticism. This first collection of his essays considers a range of design puzzles and inquiries and is an outstanding survey of a wide range of design puzzlers perfect for any general or college-level library strong in arts and design.
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Format: Paperback
David Barringer is a talented writer, who tells us about the process, pains, and pleasures that go into everything from book design to annual reports. Additionally, he peppers the book with short articles about color use, logos, information design, roosters, and skeletons (yes, as in the skull). Barringer's talent lies in taking apart the everyday, and making the reader keenly aware of why it matters. Or how it fails. Mostly, Barringer shows designers and non-designers (whichever you may be) why and what design means to him, and in the end, you see it in a fresh light yourself. Beginners and advanced designers alike will find that parts III and IV resonate with good advice, such as "How to Interview for a Job" & "The Nine Emotions of the Working Designer". My only regret? A longer glossary, or perhaps words defined within the writing as footnotes.
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Format: Paperback
Barringer is a first-class designer, as well as an author of astute and often comical fiction. Thus, it comes as no surprise this topic would combine his two abilities, generating a hybrid that views design from a variety of perspectives. Barringer's own website and the posters and other promotional materials he creates prove he knows what he's talking about, unlike many writers who write about writing, producing an endless stream of how-to mumble jumble that lands new writers nowhere and their money in the publisher's pocket. These reflections, on the other hand, serve the purposes of Barringer and his readers.
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Barringer, a designer himself, is also a clever and feeling writer. His empathy for design, and for artistic quandaries in general, makes this a super title for creatives of all stripes. I put this in the same category as Miranda July's Learning to Love You More and Matt Madden's 99 Ways to Tell a Story.
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Format: Paperback
Barringer's tome covers an amazing amount of literary ground as well as covering the field of design with an innovative outlook. And yet, this is a book for all readers, not just designers. The information conveyed in its chapters is mind-boggling, and well worth the read.
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I've been enjoying David Barringer's fiction and nonfiction for years, but picked up this, his latest, with some apprehension. I'm no designer, you see, and reading criticism on topics I know little about tends to not only bore me, but also hammer home the appreciable extent of my ignorance, which is disheartening. But I figured I'd give it a shot.

I'm glad I did. Barringer combines his unique brand of humor and appreciable perspective in a way that gave this outsider a fascinating view into the world of design. I highly recommend it.
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