Carl Magnusson

Product/Industrial Designer / United States / CGM Design LLC

Carl Magnusson’s Book List

I chose my books for this list based on several, perhaps random, criteria:

1. Enlightening for our profession

2. Outsiders’ views on design, which tend to put our work into perspective—i.e., design is not the most important factor but a part of a larger picture

3. Divertimenti: intellectually entertaining

4. Early books written by proven historians

5. Foreign authors: their views work to complete the picture

10 books
William J. Mitchell
Christopher E. Borroni-Bird
Lawrence D. Burns

I attended William Mitchell’s presentation of his concept and book at the New-York Historical Society and was taken by the authors’ pragmatic blueprint for mobility’s future. It redefined the car in context of today’s challenges—congestion, safety, and energy—and opportunities. I very much appreciate the clear sanity of their thoughts while reminiscing about Frank Lloyd Wright’s early ideas on mobility. In a parallel and separate development, Ross Lovegrove’s recent visual solution for a concept car for Renault brings cultural content back into automobile design.

Amar Bhidé

One of the early supporters of innovation as the American answer to the threat of outsourcing. In my ongoing quest for good news I liked the optimistic outlook for the future of the American economy, based on data and research of past events.

Steen Eiler Rasmussen

I first read this in the 1950s in Swedish and the central message stuck: Architecture (and therefore design as well) must evoke an experience physically and culturally beyond its core function. Hit a ball at a wall and sense the material and sound. Notice the light change as you meander through narrow asymmetrical paths between buildings, or the opening up of vistas as one surface ends and the new view becomes apparent. That, I believe, is Rassmussen’s continuing message.

Reyner Banham

This masterwork puts into perspective the implications of the industrial revolution for architecture and industrial design. The book provides evidence that modernism easily transcends the various styles of the first half of the 20th century and such historical blips as postmodernism. The modernist canons continue to be valid as we embark on the digital manifestations of our future realities.

Christopher Hitchens

I have always enjoyed Christopher Hitchens’s (sometimes abrasive) presence and writing, and this autobiography is a detailed rendition of his unapologetic life.

Mark Hollingsworth
Stewart Lansley

Good insights into recent Russian history and its effects on London society; commentary on cultural differences and the boom of the luxury market.

Nicholas Fox Weber

The first full-length biography of Le Corbusier. His relentless faith in the future—the best interpretation of modernism, in my view—has always been a source of inspiration. I always enjoy a new, well-researched perspective on an old favorite, including this one with its many sketches and beloved Stencil font.

Paul Krugman

This book title reflected how I felt! A very good read that gives a very plausible, albeit admittedly partisan, road map for a way to growth.

Jonathan Haidt

In spite of the Zen-like title this is not a self-help book, but an informed analysis of a few cross-cultural Great Ideas by thinkers of the past that comment on how we find meaning and connection in what we do.

John Kenneth Galbraith

I read this book in the 1960s and recently reread it. Interesting to note how the disparity in wealth continues despite opportunities to democratize capitalism.

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