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Munari's Books
Munari's Books
by Giorgio Maffei
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 40.49
26 used & new from CDN$ 34.04

3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely targeted for the serious Munari fan, yet worth a general perusal by graphic designers., Aug. 7 2015
This review is from: Munari's Books (Paperback)
Munari’s Books by Giorgio Maffei (Princeton Architectural Press) covers the design history of Italian artist, writer and book designer, Bruno Munari (1907 – 1998), and is described as “The Definitive Collection of Book Designs by one of the greatest designers of the 20th century.” I had not heard of Munari until I first read his well-regarded book, “Design as Art”. When travelling in Japan a decade ago, I visited the Takeo Paper mill and was given some incredibly designed diecut graphic books that undoubtedly had his influence. His books are still sought after by Japanese designers and book collectors, some translated in other languages and still in print. The impact of Munari’s work (particularly from the exquisitely crafted, “Nella Notte Buia: In the Darkness of the Night”) was unmistakable, with uniquely shaped cutouts on each spread, and a rich use of color and translucent papers. Those cues come up time and again throughout his extensive career in print designs with tactile interaction. Primarily in his native Italian, the books range from the playful and whimsical, to graphic constructivist structural grids and high concept design thinking, a fact I quickly discovered upon a general online search.

As I spent more time reading, I noticed nagging flaws in the content and structure that gave the feeling of being somewhat shortchanged. The comprehensive survey (at times awkwardly translated from the original Italian text) that preceded the visual collection was rather in-depth and detailed in its descriptions of various book designs (thread color, square pages, etc). It immediately made me yearn for visuals to support the writing (which seemingly assumes the reader already has an deeper awareness of Munari’s work; sadly I did not). I found myself trying to look up the titles or years being referenced further along in this 1” thick book, but not all were displayed or quick to find while pausing in the wordy 22-page survey. As the “definitive collection” began, each design (in chronological order with comprehensive details of publisher, year, printer, size, page count, print run, binding specs, and reproduction colors) was exquisitely featured with well-lit display photography of the cover and a few spreads. However, as the book progressed, the focus of archival imagery switched to covers only. Oddly enough, there was even a blank page with captions noting that a particular book was created, but no physical proof was available. I suppose in the author’s/publisher’s defense, it’s not possible to show EVERY spread on a 7” x 10" page in order to give attention to the fine details. Or perhaps the assumption is that more well-known or current book designs have been published or seen more widely elsewhere. Still, this was a stumbling block that gave the sense that this was definitive in covering the LISTING of books he's created, but not definitive in the visual support or elaboration I anticipated from this book.

That being said, the creative quality and experimental nature of his key design work at such an early period is beyond reproach. Few mass market or independent publishers would offer the luxury of design freedom that Munari was given. Having any book of this kind available to English audiences is more than a gift when I think about other amazing designers/illustrators of the past (specifically UK’s Tom Eckersley) who have yet to have their time in the sun. I truly appreciate and admire some of his most inventive graphic books, as well as some of his experiments with translucency, varying page sizes, cutouts and even single pieces of string. Other publications throughout the archive seem rather generic or uninspired in comparison. Definitely targeted for the serious Munari fan, yet worth a general perusal by graphic designers. Not in-depth with regards to process, concept or content, more of a catalog for historical purposes.

Ladies of Letterpress: A Gallery of Prints with 86 Removable Posters
Ladies of Letterpress: A Gallery of Prints with 86 Removable Posters
by Kseniya Thomas
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 40.49
29 used & new from CDN$ 40.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A great resource and visual celebration of what makes these ladies so passionate about print in the first place., Aug. 7 2015
Letterpress has historically been a male-dominated art form concentrated on a combination of paper, ink, wood or metal-cast type and heavy mechanical printing presses (with much of the dirty, laborious post-environmental print work maintained by hand). A new generation has continued with those same kind of machines, using modern technologies of polymer plates in tandem with digital software, and led by a younger, female leadership. Ladies of Letterpress by Kseniya Thomas & Jessica C. White (Princeton Architectural Press), is a stunning collection and celebration of the best letterpress art, illustration & design from members of an international organization championing the work of women printers (whose name adorns this book’s title). Packed in 11” x 14” space, complete with 86 removable posters, this high quality book serves to inform and inspire with detailed letterpress reproductions in all its numerous forms. From the typical broadside poster designs, to invitations, packaging, business cards, coasters, and gift tags, the almost 200-pages of printed delights definitely proves that print design is FAR from dead, and that crafts(wo)manship is very much alive and keeping very well.

Each page features a single opening piece followed by a selection of works from a particular designer/print studio, accompanied by lively personal bios and a complete set of specs for each piece (print size, paper stock, type of press and number of colors). In-depth interviews are sprinkled throughout, sharing the motivations and challenges that attract these ladies to the letterpress world. Some personal favorites include work from US designer/educator/printmaker Joey Hannaford (of whom I had the pleasure of taking her lettering workshop) and unique pieces from Australian, Italian & Dutch designers. I’ve enjoyed reading many books about letterpress print design in recent years, but not one so consistently strong throughout, and one that utilized size and textural reproduction details so well. I don’t have to squint to take notice of all the textural nuances of letterpress, various printing techniques are clearly explained and demonstrated graphically (e.g. translucent layers of color create depth & tonal mixes), and I can practically smell the printing ink as I flip through. A great resource and visual celebration of what makes these ladies so passionate about print in the first place. Highly recommended and long overdue. I look forward to the 2nd edition!

TM
TM
Price: CDN$ 15.73

4.0 out of 5 stars a.k.a. Happy accidents from start to finish, Nov. 10 2014
This review is from: TM (Kindle Edition)
"TM: The Untold Stories Behind 29 Classic Logos" by Mark Sinclair (Laurence King), a.k.a. happy accidents from start to finish. Even the book itself was initiated by a special issue of UK magazine, Creative Review, in which the editorial team was tasked to tell some of the stories behind the creation of some of the world's best-known logos.

The outgrowth of that research led to this beautifully designed book which shares some of the untold stories behind classic logos like CN (Canadian National), CBS, British Rail (once Railways, but there wasn't enough time to comp the word, "way" for the presentation), and so on. Images of paths not taken to images one wished were, right down to dispelling the myths behind the once-thought origins or originators of particular logomarks (e.g. peace symbol, Woolmark), this is enjoyable for those who appreciate the art and craft of logo design.

I personally love books like this for 3 reasons: 1. PROCESS: conceptual ideas, rough sketches or very tight explorations are shared, visually leading you to the final solution, 2. PERSEVERANCE: some marks really need to be coaxed out, or in some cases, begrudgingly as an afterthought (Centre Pompidou) and 3. NAPKINS: or any scrap of paper can be the carrier for a great visual idea. (Trust me, it’s true!)

ABBA: 600 Rare, Classic, and Unseen Photos Telling the Complete Story
ABBA: 600 Rare, Classic, and Unseen Photos Telling the Complete Story
by Petter Karlsson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 41.57
34 used & new from CDN$ 21.11

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and best book on Abba to date. Highly recommended and a keeper for big Abba fans., Oct. 29 2014
Most comprehensive, current and accurate book covering Abba's successful musical history. Tons of rarely seen photos, and some intimate, beautiful photos of them at their most natural and happy. Highly recommended for any super Abba-fan! Well-written, designed, researched and produced...definitely a keeper.

The Design Method: A Philosophy and Process for Functional Visual Communication
The Design Method: A Philosophy and Process for Functional Visual Communication
by Eric Karjaluoto
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 30.99
33 used & new from CDN$ 20.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have book about design process for new & seasoned designers, Oct. 2 2013
When I graduated from design school, the book I wish I had then was "How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul" by Adrian Shaughnessy. I recommend it to my students and young designers alike. This book is another must-have I would highly recommend for those just entering the freelance world (and I know there are many), those already working in an ever competitive/changing environment, as well as those wondering why client relations are so painful. (Perhaps you Thomas, the reviewer who didn't like this book. Did you actually read the entire book? Are you a working designer? It has some autobiographic notes in order to relate real-world experiences to the reader, but it is not just one man's journey...it's actually how many professional designers/studios/agencies/firms operate already.)

There IS an actual methodology used for successful design projects, big or small. Not every project is the same, nor does it HAVE to follow Eric's recommends perfectly. However, there are many practical details he's shared that are insightful, intelligent, and beneficial towards getting the job done right and earning the trust and respect given by clients who understand the value of professional design strategies.

It may not be for everyone, if they prefer to do things their own way. Having just finished this book, I feel this is a very cohesive, enjoyable and well-written guide explaining a much better way of working for real-world clients. For those who don't have the opportunity to be an intern, or benefit working alongside a mentor, this will do the trick. Thanks Eric.

Work for Money, Design for Love: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Starting and Running a Successful Design Business
Work for Money, Design for Love: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Starting and Running a Successful Design Business
by David Airey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 25.19
39 used & new from CDN$ 19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conversational, educational and highly recommended!, Dec 25 2012
I just finished reading David's book and LOVED it (and it's not just because I was a contributor!). Everything shared was of value and encouraged me to improve things in my own design business. Many things shared, I already do and learned on my own through experience. However, the fundamental truth to "Love what you do" rings true, especially when we empower ourselves to make it our MO. Thank you again for another satisfying book David. Definitely a keeper!

The Cult of LEGO
The Cult of LEGO
by John Baichtal
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 45.52
51 used & new from CDN$ 21.75

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written by serious Lego nerds FOR serious Lego nerds., Nov. 19 2011
This review is from: The Cult of LEGO (Hardcover)
In 2009, Doring Kindersley presented 'The Lego Book', a visual history featuring a comprehensive wealth of visual eye-candy for kids to enjoy and initiate a list of Lego pieces to look up on eBay. However, this new 2011 publication, 'The Cult of Lego' is unique in both the authorship and target audience: Lego fanatics. Written for the ever-growing adult Lego fanbase, this book is enthusiastically and lovingly written by a pair of serious Lego nerds FOR serious Lego nerds. (Nerds of the best kind, in no way intended to be derogatory.)

The book begins historically, emotionally and then inspirationally, demonstrating through real people, photos of their work and website links, just how Lego has touched their lives. The book itself is like a Lego Convention in your hands, showcasing some of the most amazing plastic creations ever thought up. It covers topics only serious fanatics could relate to: customized Lego (subject matter not covered by the Lego canon), building operational objects out of Lego elements (cameras, electriic guitars, computer cases), household rooms devoted to mammoth Lego storage with their respective archival storage systems, fine art tributes and my favorite...an entire chapter devoted to the wildly popular Lego minifig. Impressive feats such as a 20-foot long Lego Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and a highly detailed 1.3 million brick soccer stadium at Germany's LEGOLAND Deutschland theme park demonstrate Lego creations at their finest. Weighing 1.5 tons and holding an astounding 30,000 minifigs, the stadium model images shown in this book are beyond amazing.

If I had to make one criticism, it would be about the gridless, unrefined book design. Each spread is inconsistent (with the exception of chapter openings) utilizing clunky color boxes throughout, and wide, cramped type columns making the reading process quite unenjoyable albeit, tiresome. Thankfully, the content and variety of subject matter make up for the lack of design sophistication for an almost flawless LEGO fanbook.

Simply put, this is the one Lego book on the market that celebrates those adults who never want to stop loving Lego, and the seemingly unlimited, astounding potential of what can achieved creatively with these often copied--but never matched--plastic pieces.

Above the Fold: Understanding the Principles of Successful Web Site Design
Above the Fold: Understanding the Principles of Successful Web Site Design
by Brian Miller
Edition: Paperback
30 used & new from CDN$ 9.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, current & relevant., June 16 2011
The best introductory book for print designers currently making the leap to web from a type design standpoint. It clearly explains every facet you need to know without complex jargon & assumptions, but with current examples that are relevant. Recommended and a keeper.

Retrofonts
Retrofonts
by Gregor Stawinksi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 81.00
8 used & new from CDN$ 29.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Great historical type style resource., Feb. 27 2011
This review is from: Retrofonts (Hardcover)
Retrofonts is an excellent resource for those aiming to capture the right historical styling in their graphic design work. This thick, hardbound book acts as a practical type specimen catalog (containing over 360 typefaces!) with some background details concerning their particular typographic periods & characteristics. Complemented throughout with various examples of classic and current design applications, readers are also encouraged to experiment with the enclosed CD of 222 FREE Truetype fonts. Recommended as a foundation-level type history primer or collectible for typography lovers.

Idle Idol: The Japanese Mascot
Idle Idol: The Japanese Mascot
by Edward Harrison
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.95
14 used & new from CDN$ 22.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Great visual histories of major Japanese mascots!, Feb. 19 2011
Light-hearted photo-dictionary of those ubiquitous characters/mascots that live throughout the shops, restaurants and neighborhoods of Japan. Brief or somewhat detailed histories of their origins (complete with kanji of their known names) are provided with well-shot visual reference (in situ of course!). The usual suspects (Ultraman, Astroboy, Anpanman, Hello Kitty) and well as some not-so well known mascots complete the scope of characters included. Quite enjoyable for gaijins (foreigners) visiting or now living in Japan and trying to make sense of these life-size plastic figures. High production values make this publication a great gift or a keeper for fans of modern Japanese culture. Highly recommended.

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