This book was a disappointment. I can’t say that it was bad — it’s not! And I can understand why it was (is?) treated as so seminal in the designer’s canon. But the thing is short and airy. There are books — Cadence and Slang, Vectors — that are long essays that succeed because their focus is generalizable, but this book is not one of them. Conversely, Conversations with Students (which I read the night before), felt more discursive and somehow more broadly applicable.

That being said, I highlighted a lot of passages and the thing takes all of an hour to read. If you can snag it on Libby, you might as well: it certainly won’t be time wasted.



Graphic design — which fulfills esthetic needs, complies with the laws of form and the exigencies of two-dimensional space; which speaks in semiotics, sans-serifs, and geometries; which abstracts, transforms, translates, rotates, dilates, repeats, mirrors, groups, and regroups — is not good design if it is irrelevant.

Ideally, beauty and utility are mutually generative.

Lightning bolt
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