Design books to watch in spring 2022
Apocalypse Ready, by Taras Young
With the climate crisis looming and an ongoing pandemic, the past few years have been stressful for most people – to put it lightly. But a look at the past 100 years reveals a plethora of equally shocking international events, from wars and bombings to pandemics and natural disasters. In an effort to alleviate the panic caused by tumultuous times, governments around the world have often turned to graphic design to make solutions meaningful.
Apocalypse Ready by design researcher Taras Young examines these communications in depth. From step-by-step brochures on how to build an earthquake shelter, to brochures providing advice on how to protect your family during a nuclear war or how to minimize the risk of catching the Spanish Flu, the artefacts presented by Young are somewhat scary, even though they were meant to instill calm.
Throughout, Young contextualizes each booklet, poster and flyer for readers – giving insight into what the creators wanted to achieve with their work, the reasoning behind the artistic styles, and how and where each piece of communication was shared.
Apocalypse Ready is released by Taras Young in March. To find out more, visit the Thames & Hudson site.
A visual history of graphic design, by Jens Müller
Even those who know the least about the history of design are usually able to point out at least a period based on the aesthetic styles of the work it has produced. From mid-century geometric shapes to bulbous 1970s typefaces, with the right example, it can be simple to set a timeline for a style.
An authoritative voice on the history of design, Jens Müller’s upcoming book, A Visual History of Graphic Design, seeks to delve deeper into these stylistic periods. In the book, he curates the most notable creations from each of the past 130 years – following artistic movements alongside historical events like WWII and various political changes.
The book features annual releases, as well as in-depth articles on dozens of what Müller calls “flagship projects” and profiles on the designer who helped shape the industry during his career.
A Visual History of Graphic Design is published by Taschen in January. To learn more about the book, visit the Taschen site.
The art of protest, by Alain Bieer, Francesca Gavin and Penny Rafferty
How designers use their art to protest injustice is a topic that Design Week has covered in depth over the years. From Greg Bunbury’s arrest poster campaigns against the Eric Garner and George Floyd murders at the hands of the police, to the subversive graphics of Jonathan Barnbrook, designers have a long history of creative appeal.
Gestalten’s recently published book The Art of Protest offers even more examples of how creative people use their work to challenge the evils of the world. Topics covered include the fight for trans rights, digital activism and a new wave of feminist art.
Showcasing the work of over 70 artists and designers, in-depth commentaries and five essays on the role of creativity in revolt, the book aims to contextualize its various examples and recognize art and design as a tool for political change. . As the American writer and civil rights activist Toni Cade Bambara said: “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.
The Art of Protest is published by Gestalten. To buy, go to the Gestalten website.
Design as Democratic Inquiry, by Carl DiSalvo
Designers will be well aware of how their craft can be used to create graphics, products and spaces – but design is increasingly recognized for the way it can be used in politics and civic engagement. A new book by designer and educator Carl DiSalvo aims to showcase the potential of design as a tool to care for and support democracies.
Design as Democratic Inquiry draws on DiSalvo’s career and experience, to demonstrate how design can be a fundamental part of local politics – but not in a way we necessarily know today. The relentless pursuit of innovation, he says, has led to a corporate culture of “design imperialism”.
To challenge this, DiSalvo uses recent examples from Atlanta, US, where residents and local organizations have led design processes to nurture their community. He says the purpose of the book is to show how we can “resist heroic design stories” in favor of a process that focuses on the “fragile, contingent, partial and compromised” aspects of design.
Design as Democratic Inquiry is published by The MIT Press in February. To learn more about the book and to pre-order, visit the MIT press site.
Jens Risom: A place at the table, by Vicky Lowry
His work was among the first to introduce Scandinavian design to the United States and some of his pieces remain highly collectable to this day, but Danish-American designer Jens Risom is widely regarded as an unsung hero of the mid-century design movement. century.
A new book by Vicky Lowry, the first authoritative biography of the designer and his work, seeks to change that. The book covers Risom’s education in Denmark, through his early collaborations with people like Georg Jensen and Hans Knoll, and in establishing his eponymous studio and legacy at 21st century. Lowry tells the story of Risom through a collection of unseen sketches, photographs and other ephemera.
The book features many examples of the furniture designer’s work, including pieces that are still in production today, as well as background and biographical information.
Jens Risom: A Seat at the Table is published by Phaidon in January. For more information, see the Phaidon site.
History and Truth, by Ian Douglas and Ben Javens
One for young readers, Story & Truth is the first book from an independent publisher and traveling children’s bookstore by How Brave is The Wren. It comes from writer and director Ian Douglas and illustrator Ben Javens.
The illustrated book follows the story of a traveler from the Story world, who spends his time meeting new people and being welcomed into their homes. During one of his adventures, he meets Truth, a wise old lady who “carries the weight of the world on her shoulders.” When they meet, Truth explains why it’s Story that is so well received by people around the world, and not her.
The book is a youth-friendly take on an old age problem but also very modern: why are people more inclined to believe a good story than the truth? Javens developed the designs for the book, which he says reflect the “age of the story” told in Story & Truth. He says inspiration for the project came from old picture books from his personal collection, like The Story of William Tell, told by mid-century illustrator Aliki Brandenberg.
Story & Truth is published by How Brave is the Wren. To buy, go to the How Brave is the Wren website.
Which book are you looking forward to reading in spring 2022? Let us know in the comments below…
Banner image: Risom private residence, New Canaan, late 1950s (page 117, bottom) Photo credit: © FORM archive / Jens Risom.