Book List of the Week

Interaction and Information: Carola Zwick’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter January 22, 2013
Carola Zwick

Product/Industrial and Interaction Designer Carola Zwick: Studio 7.5 (Berlin)

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“As a designer you are concerned with observing and understanding change and solving emerging needs and problems. In addition, your concepts and ideas as well as the change you hope to trigger with your design intervention need to be communicated clearly,” says Carola Zwick, who along with Burkhard Schmitz and Claudia Plikat co-founded the Berlin-based industrial design firm Studio 7.5. The studio develops furniture and other product designs for an international array of companies, including Herman Miller, for which it created the Setu line of office chairs—winner in 2010 of the IDSA Design of the Decade Award for Best Sustainable Design Solution.

How to communicate with a product’s end user also informs Zwick’s work as an educator, which spans 18 years and has focused on the field of “interaction design,” a term the late Bill Moggridge introduced to describe designing for human behavior, particularly in relation to computer software and hardware. Zwick is the co-author or co-editor of four books on digital and interaction design, most recently The Digital Turn: Design in the Era of Interactive Technologies, scheduled for publication this February (Park Books).

Zane Berzina, Barbara Junge, Wim Westerveld, and Carola Zwick, eds., The Digital Turn, forthcoming February 2013 (Park Books)

On Zwick’s book list for Designers & Books is—of course—Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge, the designer of the first laptop computer and the founder of the firm IDEO. Zwick also selects Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language (on the book lists of Chris Bangle, Peter Bohlin, Nancye Green, and three other Designers & Books contributors) and comments that the book “helps us to understand how hardware is influencing software—in this case, how the built environment is shaping the behavior of its inhabitants.” She includes Richard Saul Wurman’s Information Anxiety 2 as “my all-time favorite and recommendation for students on how to cope with complexity,” adding, “Wurman also respects his own advice in providing an abstract of the complete book as the first chapter to serve as an ‘instant’ version for impatient minds.”

The Craftsman, by Richard Sennett, says Zwick, “describes the intrinsic reward gained from working ‘hands on’ as well as the specific relationship between craftsmen and their tools, which in my view is a great inspiration for designers to create hardware and software that empower people.”

Most of these titles and others on her book list, Zwick notes in her introduction, “have accompanied me for quite some time: they don’t seem to have lost their impact or their relevance. For me, as a product and interaction designer, at least some enduring truth is comforting.”

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