Daily Features

A Year in Design Books: Holiday Gift List 2022

New books from our contributing designers to inspire you, and provide inspiration for your gift list.

November 21, 2022


The architects, designers, and design critics around the world who contribute to Designers & Books offer recommendations for great books to read – books that have inspired them, books they return to again and again, books they give to others. Our contributors are also great creators of books.

For this holiday gift-giving season, here is just a sampling of the books published in 2022 written and illustrated by our contributing designers. From the delicate drawings of Maira Kalman to the luminous wood constructions of architect Shigeru Ban, we hope they will provide inspiration for you — and ideas for your gift list.

Design Emergency Alice Rawsthorn
Paola Antonelli

From the Publisher: Alice Rawsthorn and Paola Antonelli, two of the world’s most influential design figures, meet the visionary designers whose innovations and ingenuity give us hope for the future by redesigning and reconstructing our lives, enabling us to thrive.  Design Emergency tells the stories of the remarkable designers, architects, engineers, artists, scientists, and activists, who are at the forefront of positive change worldwide. Focusing on four themes—Technology, Society, Communication, and Ecology—the authors present a unique portrait of how our great creative minds are developing new design solutions to the major challenges of our time, while helping us to benefit from advances in science and technology.

“A labor of love that began as an Instagram feed of life-allaying solutions during the pandemic and bloomed into an atemporal celebration of human optimism, ingenuity, and passion at their most practical and most buoyant.” — Maria Popova, The Marginalian

Growing Up Underground Steven Heller

From the Publisher: An entertaining coming-of-age memoir from Steven Heller, award-winning designer, writer, and former senior art director at the New York Times. Featuring 100 color photographs, Growing Up Underground takes readers on a visually inspired look back on being at the center of New York’s youth culture in the 1960s and 1970s. Steven Heller’s memoir is no chronological trek through the hills and valleys of his comparatively “normal” life, but instead, a coming-of-age tale whereby, with luck and circumstance, he found himself in curious and remarkable places at critical times during the 1960s and ‘70s in New York City. Heller’s delightful account of his life between the ages of 16 and 26 shows his ambitious journey from the start of his illustrious career as a graphic designer, cartoonist, and writer. Steven Heller was an art director at the New York Times for thirty-three years. He is the author or coauthor of two hundred books on graphic design, satiric art, and illustration and lives in New York City.

Meet Me by the Fountain Alexandra Lange

From the Publisher: Chronicles postwar architects’ and merchants’ invention of the shopping mall, revealing how the design of these marketplaces played an integral role in their cultural ascent. In influential design critic Alexandra Lange’s perceptive account, the mall becomes newly strange and rich with contradiction: malls are environments of both freedom and exclusion—of consumerism, but also of community. Meet Me by the Fountain is a highly entertaining and evocative promenade through the mall's story of rise, fall, and ongoing reinvention, for readers of any generation.

“A smart and accessible cultural history.” — Los Angeles Times

The Notebooks and Drawings of Louis I. Kahn Richard Saul Wurman Editor and Designer
Eugene Feldman Editor and Designer

Originally published in 1962, featuring drawings, sketches and writings by architect Louis I. Kahn selected, edited, and designed by Richard Saul Wurman (a former student of Kahn) and produced by the innovative printer Eugene Feldman. A facsimile edition is accompanied by an all-new Reader’s Guided, edited by Richard Saul Wurman, was published in 2022.

“Not just a landmark in architectural history but also a touching and personal document assembled by one who knew Kahn. A full-spectrum portrayal of a creative force, from the monumental to the messy and back again.” — Rowan Moore, architecture critic for the Guardian

Shigeru Ban: Timber in Architecture Shigeru Ban

From the Publisher: Shigeru Ban Architects has innovated in wood for over 35 years, creating inspiring spaces that have a positive impact on building inhabitants, communities, and the environment. The firm has built over 65 wood and mass timber projects, from prefabricated plywood houses to parametrically modeled glulam gridshells. Timber in Architecture presents the trajectory of 45 works from concept through construction, demonstrating the challenges and merits of wood buildings through essays, technical drawings, and photographs. Featured projects include the Centre Pompidou-Metz (Metz, France, 2010), the Aspen Art Museum (Aspen, Colorado, USA, 2014), the Mt. Fuij World Heritage Centre (Shizuoka, Japan, 2019), and Swatch/Omega Campus (Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, 2019), as well as current works.

Stop Stealing Sheep, 4th edition Erik Spiekermann

From the Publisher: After almost three decades as one of the world’s bestselling introductions to designing with type, Stop Stealing Sheep: Find Out How Type Works continues to educate, entertain, and enlighten design students and type lovers around the globe. In this fourth edition, Erik Spiekermann brings his type classic fully up-to-date with an all-new chapter on variable typefaces, scores of visual examples on how to communicate with type effectively, and a full selection of new typefaces used and referenced throughout the book.

The Story of Architecture Witold Rybczynski

From the Publisher: In this sweeping history, from the Stone Age to the present day, Witold Rybczynski shows how architectural ideals have been affected by technological, economic, and social changes—and by changes in taste. The host of examples ranges from places of worship such as Hagia Sophia and Brunelleschi’s Duomo to living spaces such as the Katsura Imperial Villa and the Alhambra, national icons such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Sydney Opera House, and skyscrapers such as the Seagram Building and Beijing’s CCTV headquarters. Rybczynski’s narrative emphasizes the ways that buildings across time and space are united by the human desire for order, meaning, and beauty. This is the story of architecture’s physical manifestation of the universal aspiration to celebrate, honor, and commemorate, and an exploration of the ways that each building is a unique product of patrons, architects, and builders. Firm in opinion, even-handed, and rooted in scholarship, this book will delight anyone interested in understanding the buildings they use, visit, and pass by each day.

“Witold Rybczynski is one of architecture’s most genial storytellers.” — Deborah Berke, FAIA, dean, Yale School of Architecture

Strange Objects, New Solids and Massive Things Winka Dubbeldam

“After close to a century of modernism as the prevailing approach to architecture, in the last two decades, this book argues, our widespread allegiance began to shift away from that ‘ism’ toward a new social realm, and we have now reached a plateau where digital design and robotic production are the norm. The firm Archi-Tectonics, in particular, has long valued performance over form, design intelligence over style. As seen through an examination of 10 current and recent projects by the New York–based practice, founded by Winka Dubbeldam in 1994, this book celebrates the particular and singular over the ideal and universal.”  — Architectural Record

“Traditionally, architects don’t like to reveal too much of their design process, but Strange Objects, New Solids and Massive Things finds Dubbeldam doing the near-opposite. But maybe that’s what’s needed — so readers can understand how Archi-Tectonics creates those ‘strange objects,’ ‘new solids,’ and ‘massive things.’” — John Hill, World-Architects

Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People Debbie Millman

From Publishers Weekly. Debbie Millman brings her “Design Matters” podcast, “about how the most creative people in the world create their lives,” to the page with this excellent interview anthology. Sharpened by Millman’s penetrating commentary, the candid musings teem with insight and empathy.

Why Design Matters features 100 images and includes interviews with: Marina Abramovic, Cey Adams, Elizabeth Alexander, Laurie Anderson, Lynda Barry, Allison Bechdel, Michael Bierut, Brené Brown, Alain de Botton, Eve Ensler, Shepard Fairey, Tim Ferriss, Louise Fili, Kenny Fries, Anand Girhidardas, Cindy Gallop, Malcolm Gladwell, Milton Glaser, Ira Glass, Seth Godin, Thelma Golden, Gabrielle Hamilton, Steven Heller, Jessica Hische, Michael R. Jackson, Oliver Jeffers, Saeed Jones, Thomas Kail, Maira Kalman, Chip Kidd, Anne Lamott, Elle Luna, Carmen Maria Machado, Thomas Page McBee, Erin McKeown, Chanel Miller, Mike Mills, Marilyn Minter, Isaac Mizrahi, Nico Muhly, Eileen Myles, Emily Oberman, Amanda Palmer, Priya Parker, Esther Perel, Maria Popova, Edel Rodriguez, Paula Scher, Amy Sherald, Simon Sinek, Pete Souza, Aminatou Sow, Brandon Stanton, Cheryl Strayed, Amber Tamblyn, Christina Tosi, Tea Uglow, Chris Ware, and Albert Watson.

Women Holding Things Maira Kalman

From the Publisher: In the spring of 2021, Maira and Alex Kalman created a small, limited-edition booklet, “Women Holding Things,” which featured select recent paintings by Maira, accompanied by her insightful and deeply personal commentary. The booklet quickly sold out. Now, the Kalmans have expanded that original publication into an extraordinary visual compendium.

Women Holding Things includes the bright, bold images featured in the booklet as well as an additional sixty-seven new paintings highlighted by thoughtful and intimate anecdotes, recollections, and ruminations. Most are portraits of women, both ordinary and famous, including Virginia Woolf, Sally Hemings, Hortense Cezanne, Gertrude Stein, as well as Kalman’s family members and other real-life people. These women hold a range of objects, from the mundane—balloons, a cup, a whisk, a chicken, a hat—to the abstract—dreams and disappointments, sorrow and regret, joy and love. Kalman considers the many things that fit physically and metaphorically between women’s hands: We see a woman hold a book, hold shears, hold children, hold a grudge, hold up, hold her own. In visually telling their stories, Kalman lays bare the essence of women’s lives—their tenacity, courage, vulnerability, hope, and pain. Ultimately, she reveals that many of the things we hold dear—as well as those that burden or haunt us—remain constant and connect us from generation to generation.

comments powered by Disqus