Alexander Haldemann

Academic; Executive / Brand Design / United States / MetaDesign

References and New Discoveries: Alexander Haldemann’s Book List

Some of the books I selected had an influence on me professionally. Other books were formative for me personally—either books I read growing up (and now share with my children), or books that have moved me as an adult. What they have in common is that they were all lying around piled on top of the books on the shelves, which suggests they are either important to me and I reference them often, or new discoveries, or both. They also trace my international journey from Switzerland to San Francisco. Next stop: Australia.

7 books
Rebecca Solnit

When I moved to San Francisco from Zurich in 2009, Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas really helped me discover the city. With Google Maps, an atlas may seem archaic. But this book is a work of art, and I find it to be an indispensable tool for understanding and uncovering the many secrets of the City by the Bay. For me, this included the many great walks, the incredible architecture, and my all-time favorite: coffee shop recommendations.

Andy Short
Brad Farmer

My wife is from Sydney and misses the warm sunny beaches. When the time comes that I can finally take a sabbatical, we will spend it on the beaches of Australia. This is the book that will guide us.

Stop Stealing Sheep is an introduction to typography for non-designers. The book makes typography accessible to someone who has not studied design but who works in the design industry. From Stop Stealing Sheep I learned that typography really matters and has an unbelievable impact on the expression of a brand. The book shows you that with typography, small things matter. Likewise, the true power of a brand is in the details.

Christoph Becker Editor

Füssli, the Wild Swiss is a retrospective of the work of the Swiss painter Johann Heinrich Füssli. Füssli moved around a lot, and lived and worked in Switzerland as well as France, Italy, Germany, and England, not only speaking and writing in those languages, but adapting himself to those cultures. In fact he would even alter his name to conform to the culture he was living in, such as changing it from Füssli to Fuseli to sound more Italian. What inspires me about Füssli is that he had an international consciousness—expressed in his art—in the 18th century, decades before direct flights and the Internet would make that an easy thing to do. He did it when it was hard.

David McCandless

Living in a world of information overload, infographics are an important way of making data accessible and understandable. It is one of the many duties of design to reduce information to an understandable level, and Information Is Beautiful gives a wonderful overview about how to do this. The book shows convincingly that to master the sheer complexity of data you first need a solid understanding of the issue at hand. By thoroughly understanding the data, a beautiful and simple design is more likely to emerge.

Selina Chönz
Illustrated by Alois Carigiet

Schellen-Ursli is the quintessential Swiss children’s book. Like all Swiss children, I grew up with it. Illustrated by the famous Swiss artist Alois Carigiet, Schellen-Ursli tells the tale of a boy who gets lost in the Swiss mountains, and is an iconic story of what it is like to grow up in the Alps. It is a tradition to pass the book on to your children in Switzerland, and sharing it with my children—who are growing up in San Francisco—is a way for them to connect with their Swiss heritage, and a way for me to reconnect with my own.

Bruno Munari

Speak Italian: The Fine Art of the Gesture is a book that describes what you can’t learn about Italian in the dictionary. This book is important to me because I grew up on the border of Switzerland and Italy next to Lago Maggiore, a lake that is shared by both countries. Italian is my second language, but I learned very quickly that, when it comes to understanding Italian, gestures are extremely important in communicating and telling stories. This insight has carried over into my work: brands, much like languages, are multi-sensory. To truly understand both people and brands, you have to go deeper than the surface and look at them from a different perspective.

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