Themed Book Lists

20 Books of Design Manifestos

March 31, 2015

We’ve updated our list of books of design manifestos, which includes the recently published compilation After the Manifesto (Columbia University GSAPP Books/T6 Ediciones, 2015). In an exciting development for us, Designers & Books is planning to help bring back in print this year another book on this list: Ladislav Sutnar: Visual Design in Action, a 1961 “monograph-cum-manifesto,” in the words of Steven Heller, featuring the work and ideas of the Czech forerunner of information design, Ladislav Sutnar (1897–1976). Watch for details.

Spread from Ladislav Sutnar: Visual Design in Action (Hastings House, 1961)
100 Artists’ Manifestos: From the Futurists to the Stuckists Alex Danchev Editor

From the Publisher. A collection of 100 manifestos from the last 100 years, presenting the contradictory and echoing spirits of such diverse movements as Vorticism, Feminism, Dogme, Surrealism, Communism, and Cannibalism, taking in along the way cinema, architecture, fashion, and cookery. Written by a wide range of artists including Wassily Kandinsky, Wyndham Lewis, Claes Oldenburg, Derek Jarman, Gilbert and George, Rem Koolhaas, Werner Herzog, Takashi Murakami, and Billy Childish, the revolutionary spirit is clear in each manifesto, as they promote and critique every aspect of art from fun and fearlessness to violence and freedom.

After the Manifesto Craig Buckley Editor

From the Publisher. Does the recent explosion of the architectural manifesto signal a new urgency of the form, or does it represent a hopeless effort to resuscitate something that has outlived its useful lifespan? After the Manifesto brings together architects and scholars to revisit the past, present and future of the manifesto. In what ways have manifestos transformed the field over the last 50 years, and in what ways has the manifesto itself been transformed by new modes of communication? Authors include Ruben Alcolea, Craig Buckley, Beatriz Colomina, Carlos Labarta, Felicity D. Scott, Bernard Tschumi, Anthony Vidler, Enrique Walker, and Mark Wigley.

Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago Hans Wingler

From the Publisher. Bauhaus has established itself with designers and architects as a standard work and the most comprehensive collection of documents and pictoral material ever published on this famous school of design. Documents in Bauhaus are taken from a wide array of sources—public manifestos, private letters, internal memoranda, jotted-down conversations, minutes of board and faculty meetigs, sketches and schemata, excerpts from speeches and books, newspaper and magazine articles, Nazi Polemics, official German government documents, court proceedings, budgets, and curricula. The illustrations include architectural plans and realizations, craft and industrial model designs (furniture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, stained glass, typography, wallpaper), sculpture, paintings, drawings, etchings, woodcuts, posters, programs, advertising brochures, stage settings, and formal portraits of such Bauhaus Masters as Walter Gropius, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Josef Albers, Hebert Bayer, Marcel Breuer, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Beauty Is in the Street Johan Kugelberg Editor
Philippe Vermès Editor

Rick Poynor comments on Beauty Is in the Street:

“As the ‘Occupy’ protests spread around the world, this high-impact record of the May 1968 uprising against the French government in the streets of Paris couldn’t be timelier.”


Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? Metahaven

— McNally Jackson Books art and design book buyer Ames Gerould comments on Can Jokes Bring Down Governments?:

“A worthwhile read for the sake of intellectual freedoms as well as for a greatly needed undermining of conventional corporate identity-design practices.”

Clip Stamp Fold Beatriz Colomina Editor
Craig Buckley

From the Publisher. An explosion of little architectural magazines in the 1960s and 1970s instigated a radical transformation in architectural culture, as the magazines acted as a site of innovation and debate. Clip/Stamp/Fold takes stock of seventy little magazines from this period. The book brings together a remarkable range of documents and original research which the project has produced during its continuous travels over the last four years starting with the exhibition at the Storefront in November 2006. The book features transcripts from the “Small Talks” events in which editors and designers were invited to discuss their magazines; a stocktaking of over 100 significant issues that tracks the changing density and progression of the little magazine phenomenon; transcripts of more than forty interviews with magazine editors and designers from all over the world; a selection of magazine facsimiles; and a fold out poster that offers a mosaic image of more than 1,200 covers examined during the research.

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture Robert Venturi

This award-winning “gentle manifesto” for a “non-straightforward architecture,” argues against the purist forms and tenets of orthodox modernism, and for an embrace of multiple and conflicting ideas that produce a more vital approach to built design. Using examples ranging from Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures to designs by Edwin Lutyens, Alvar Aalto, vernacular sources, and Venturi’s own work, the book, which has been translated into 18 languages since it was first published, makes a case for “the difficult whole.”

Combinatory Urbanism Thom Mayne

From Morphosis. For the past 40 years Thom Mayne and his firm, Morphosis, have been engaged with projects that exist in the hybrid space between architecture and urban planning. Against this backdrop, Combinatory Urbanism: The Complex Behavior of Collective Form surveys 12 urban projects that range in scale from a 16-acre proposal for rebuilding the World Trade Center site after the 2001 terrorist attacks to a 52 thousand-acre redevelopment proposal for post-Katrina New Orleans. This book and the proposals found within, posit an alternative to traditional end-state planning solutions, while attempting to not only illuminate but also explicate Mayne’s own work and critical processes. Combinatory Urbanism represents a departure from previous Morphosis publications. Both a manifesto on urbanism and a comprehensive presentation of Morphosis urban design projects, many of which have never before been published; this book fills a void in the world of architectural and urban design publications. Foreword by Stan Allen.

Available from Stray Dog Cafe.

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things William McDonough
Michael Braungart

From the Publisher. A manifesto for a radically different philosophy and practice of manufacture and environmentalism. “Reduce, reuse, recycle,” urge environmentalists—in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. As this book argues, however, this approach perpetuates a one-way “cradle” to grave manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world, they ask. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new. Elaborating their principles from experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.

The Design of Everyday Things Donald Norman

—Product designer Tim Brown (IDEO) comments on The Design of Everyday Things, written by Donald Norman:

“Originally called The Psychology of Everyday Things, still the best argument for why designers can’t be left to design things on their own.”

Design for the Real World Victor Papanek

Critic and author Alice Rawsthorn comments on Design for the Real World:

“Irascible though he was, Papanek was also thoughtful, sensitive, gutsy, and perceptive. He wrote Design for the Real World a little over 40 years ago, and most of its principles are as relevant now as they were then, if not more so. Dividing his book into two parts, the first entitled “How it is” and the second “How it could be,” Papanek explains clearly and persuasively that design should be more honest, humane, responsible, empowering, and inclusive, less about showy styling, and more about improving the quality of all of our lives, not least those who are disadvantaged, disabled, or excluded. Countless books have since been published on sustainable and inclusive design, but every designer should still read this one.”

Design Revolution Emily Pilloton

— IDEO partner Tom Kelley comments on Design Revolution:

“Emily Pilloton is my design hero. Thirty years from now, people will be calling her a national treasure, and they will point to this book as an early milestone in her journey. The book’s collection of 100 social-innovation/design projects was just the jumping off point for Emily’s subsequent ventures: a cross-country Design Revolution Road Show, a hands-on design thinking curriculum for high school kids, a design-and-build summer camp for tween girls, and a documentary film on the power of design thinking. It’s not just a book. It’s the harbinger of a bright future.”

Graphic Design: Now in Production Ellen Lupton Editor
Andrew Blauveldt Editor

From the Publisher. Graphic design has broadened its reach dramatically over the past decade, expanding from a specialized profession to a widely deployed skill. The rise of user-generated content, new methods of publishing and systems of distribution, and the wide dissemination of creative software have opened up new opportunities for design. More designers are becoming producers—authors, publishers, instigators, and entrepreneurs—actively employing their creative skills as makers of content and shapers of experiences.

Featuring work produced since 2000, Graphic Design: Now in Production explores the worlds of design-driven magazines, newspapers, books, and posters; the entrepreneurial spirit of designer-produced goods; the renaissance in digital typeface design; the storytelling potential of film and television titling sequences; and the transformation of raw data into compelling information narratives. The catalogue features important original essays by leading designers that tackle themes such as the changing roles of reading and writing within the context of new technologies and self-publishing; the nature of design labor and production, from blue-collar handcraft and making to white-collar design thinking and strategy; and the impact and influence design programs and schools have had on shaping the direction of contemporary graphic design.

Co-organized by the Walker Art Center and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Graphic Design: Now in Production is conceived as a visual compendium in the spirit of the Whole Earth Catalog. It features posters, info graphics, fonts, books, magazines, film titles, logos and more, interspersed with a variety of small texts delving into specific project details, excerpted artists’ statements, interviews and published manifestos, technical details, and new and old technologies and tools.

A Landscape Manifesto Diana Balmori
Introduction by Michael Conan

From the Publisher. This book presents Balmori’s most complete vision yet of the theory and practice of urban landscape design as a discipline that combines the science of ecology with the formal aspects of aesthetics. Here, Balmori advocates a new formal language that reflects a philosophical shift in our traditional understanding of nature, along with “realignments” in how humans relate to nature and live in our world today, changes that will shape the livable city of the future. A Landscape Manifesto includes discussions of urban ecology, environmental conservation, and environmentally beneficial building techniques. Projects by Balmori Associates, which include the Memphis Riverfront and a port area newly reclaimed by the Guggenheim Bilbao, illuminate Balmori’s innovations.

Manifesto Architecture Beatriz Colomina

From the Publisher. The history of the avant-garde (in art, architecture, literature) can’t be separated from the history of its engagement with mass media. It is not just that the avant-garde used media to publicize its work; the work did not exist before its publication.

In architecture, Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe came to be known through their influential writings and manifestos published in newspapers, journals, and little magazines. Entire groups, from Dada and Surrealism to De Stijl, became an effect of their manifestos. The manifesto was the site of self invention, innovation, and debate. Even buildings themselves could be manifestos. The most extreme and radical designs in the history of modern architecture were realized as pavilions in temporary exhibition.

In the third book in the Critical Spatial Practice series, Beatriz Colomina traces the history of the modern architecture manifesto, with particular focus on Mies van der Rohe, and the play between the written and built work. This essay propels the manifesto form into the future, into an age where electronic media are the primary sites of debate, suggesting that new forms of manifesto are surely emerging along with new kinds of authorship, statement, exhibition, and debate.

Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-Century Architecture Ulrich Conrads

From the Publisher. The present volume offers eloquent testimony that many of the master builders of this century have held passionate convictions regarding the philosophic and social basis of their art. Nearly every important development in the modern architectural movement began with the proclamation of these convictions in the form of a program or manifesto. The most influential of these are collected here in chronological order from 1903 to 1963. Taken together, they constitute a subjective history of modern architecture; compared with one another, their great diversity of style reveals in many cases the basic differences of attitude and temperament that produced a corresponding divergence in architectural style. In point of view, the book covers the aesthetic spectrum from right to left; from programs that rigidly generate designs down to the smallest detail to revolutionary manifestoes that call for anarchy in building form and town plan. The documents, placed in context by the editor, are also international in their range: among them are the seminal and prophetic statements of Henry van de Velde, Adolf Loos, and Bruno Taut from the early years of the century; Frank Lloyd Wright's 1910 annunciation of Organic Architecture; Gropius's original program for the Bauhaus, founded in Weimar in 1919; "Towards a New Architecture, Guiding Principles" by Le Corbusier; the formulation by Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner of the basic principles of Constructivism; and articles by R. Buckminster Fuller on universal architecture and the architect as world planner. Other pronouncements, some in flamboyant style, including those of Erich Mendelsohn, Hannes Meyer, Theo van Doesburg, Oskar Schlemmer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, El Lissitzky, and Louis I. Kahn. There are also a number of collective or group statements, issued in the name of movements such as CIAM, De Stijl, ABC, the Situationists, and GEAM.

Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design Michael Bierut

From the Publisher. Now available in paperback, Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design brings together the best of designer Michael Bierut’s critical writing. Whether serious or humorous, flattering or biting, Bierut is always on the mark. Covering topics as diverse as Twyla Tharp and ITC Garamond, Bierut's intelligent and accessible texts pull design culture into crisp focus. Along the way, Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Eero Saarinen, the paper clip, the cover of The Catcher in the Rye, the planet Saturn, the ClearRx pill bottle, and paper architecture all fall under his pen.

Read Author Q&A on Designers & Books.

Visual Design in Action Ladislav Sutnar

An examination of Czech-born designer Ladislav Sutnar’s pioneering “information design” work and theoretical ideas. With 36 color pages and 342 black-and-white illustrations of many of Sutnar's most iconic designs. Preface by Mildred Constantine. “Today the book is a rare treasure.” – Steven Heller

Yes Is More Bjarke Ingels

From the Publisher. A manifesto of architecture as seen by the Copenhagen-based group BIG, headed by Bjarke Ingels, told in comic book form.

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