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Design Language [Hardcover]

Tim McCreight , McCreight


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Book Description

June 1 2003 0961598468 978-0961598464
A compact, dictionary-like volume for artists, designers, and students. 100 important words are identified with pronunciation, formal meaning, and etymology. The concepts and practical uses of each term are discussed in casual, everyday language. each entry combines wit, scholarship and perception.

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Product Description

From the Publisher

Design Language was conceived as an alternative to the traditional approach to design texts, which rely on photographs, didactic explanations, and an imposed hierarchy. While each of these factors has merit, they come at the cost of allowing students and readers to discover personal definitions of design. The low cost and open spaces of this book invite readers to add to the text, truly shaping it into a valuable, idiosyncratic language.

From the Author

This book was born from my experience as a college teacher. I find I'm most effective when I sneak up on a student and whisper a brief aside. As they sort out the connection between what they were thinking and an apparently unrelated observation, real learning takes place-light bulbs go off. I hope Design Language captures a little bit of this magic on the printed page.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Design Instructors! March 30 2001
By Dina K. Wasmer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I teach at a graduate school that is structured around the concept of writing and design, type and image, and I found this book very useful for in class and homework assignments.
Each student had their own copy and I asked each of them to pick a word from the book as well as one of the corresponding definitions, and describe it typographically - using type as image to convey the meaning. It proved to be a great exercise to teach students the basic principles of scale, contrast, unity, perspective, etc. and actually have them retain it! Even the weaker students suprised me and themselves with how effective thier solutions were. It motivated most of the students to use the principles in their more complex design projects. Plus it's small, it's durable and it's beggs to be written in - making your own notations along the way.
I'm pleased visual examples were omitted by the author. It allows the reader to make his/her own interpretations of the word. The definition is there to keep us in check.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome job of wordsmithing Feb. 9 2008
By Ima Teacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have purchased many copies of this book to give to students over the years. I found it to be useful, inspiring, and a great read. The layout has a great gestalt. I think it is a sexy little book about design terms. The quotes in it are timely, and thought provoking. The terms are well defined and cross referenced. Professor McCreight has a wonderfully small package packed with useful stuff.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but it could be more visual March 18 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I really liked the simplicity of the book but I wish that it showed some visual references to explain the ideas more clearly. I am an educator as well and I have found students like to see examples especially when they are trying to learn to be visual thinkers. The author did not define logo in his book. Why not? The colors chosen for this book are too close in value and when printed next to each other made it very difficult on the eyes. It is so bad in some areas (example: see Unity) that it seemed as though the printer purposely did not trap the colors (orange type in a grey field) because the reader could not of read the type. The typeface that was chosen for the main text was very difficult to read - Design Language missed the mark on legibility in some parts of the book. In fact, the author did not even define legibility within the book - it may of helped the designer who laid out the book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kinda pointless unless... Jan. 15 2014
By Muggins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you are a design student who needs a small, simple dictionary of useful terms and examples to use in a thesis paper or a critique (and want to sound intelligent doing it) then buy this book. Otherwise, there are other dictionaries and/or reference books that are more thorough and comprehensive that may better serve you. Keep looking.

If it's required for a class, as it was for myself, borrow a friend's who has already taken the class. They don't need it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Re-introducing the familiar June 14 2009
By wiredweird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Every field has its jargon. Medicine, mathematics, sciences, and even sailing and horsemanship baffle outsiders with the many unfamiliar words that insiders use to abbreviate meanings unique to their fields. Although problematic to an outsider, when the coversation abounds with mysterious terms, the listener can realize that communication is failing. Communication failure becomes harder to recognize, and all the more baffling, when a field's jargon consists of familiar words assigned new meanings. Then, the unwary listener might feel some level of understanding, when in fact there is little or none, or genuine misunderstanding. McCreight uses this book as a glossary to the designer's senses of words that non-designers already know.

For example, this booklet's definition of artists' "density" never mentions physical mass at all, although it does mention "weight" - which, in turn, has visual meaning far beyound grams and tonnes. The way it defines "structure," as another example, leaves the reader hard-pressed to identify the load-bearing frame of a building as its "structure." When dealing with such shifts of language, McCreight goes beyond dictionary-style definitions for each term. In addition, a brief discussion, a paragraph to a small page, adds connotation to the definitions. Also, a handful of cross-references to other definitions allow the reader to compare related concepts. Finally, a quote from some famous thinker decorates each definition. (Careful - this book identifies "decorative" as 'often used in the pejorative sense.' I didn't mean it that way.)

I find it sadly paradoxical that so much of this design book's layout represents poor design. Text on each page is laid out clearly and consistenly, helping the reader to organize the different parts of the definition at a glance. However, just about every page is decorated (in the negative meaning) with lines or geometric figures that don't relate to the text and that sometimes actively interfere with typographic organization. In the worst cases, orange text on a gray background becomes nearly impossible to read - a problem that good design would never have allowed.

Although McCreight works in metals, often a technically demanding medium, his artistic sense sometime introduces scientific bloopers. For example, in discussing the audio meaning of "volume," he states that it refers to "how many sonic waves are packed into the air around us." More waves would tend to mean less space between waves - i.e. a change in the wavelength and therefor frequency, affecting pitch or timbre. A change in audio volume holds the number of waves constant, but changes the amplitude of the waves.

Despite these glitches, this remains an interesting set of definitions, sure to help beginners encountering the unfamiliar jargon of design for the first time.

-- wiredweird

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