Massimo Pitis

Graphic Designer / Italy / Studio Pitis

Massimo Pitis’s Book List

My selection of books reflects my interests in history, sociology, design, and education. In particular what I propose here is a dive into the depths of design thinking—a sea where letters and ornaments, thoughts and words, passions and theories fluctuate constantly, producing new ideas and new words.

10 books
Alexander Speltz

A comprehensive, even maniacal, catalogue of ornament in architecture and design from pre-history to the late 19th century. The original was printed in Leipzig, with text and drawings by Speltz himself. I wonder if he had a real life during the making of this book—take a look at it and you’ll understand!

Giovanni Lussu

Quite enlightening essay (not translated into English) on the alphabetical system and its influence in shaping Western culture. It also examines the myth of the alphabet as a mirror of the spoken word.

Kenya Hara

If I had to write a shortlist of five of the best graphic designers ever I would probably put Kenya Hara among them. This book is an extensive presentation of his best work over the years. It witnesses the ability to play with tradition and creativity with eyes open to the requirements of the market and the light touch of a deep cultural and ethical sensibility.

Jérôme Peignot

From the calligram to concrete poetry, from design to art, this book collects hundreds of very good examples of great typography. Designed by Massin, it’s a book Herbert Spencer might have done after his experience as editor of the design journal Typographica.

Richard Hollis

I owe a debt of gratitude to Richard Hollis for this simple and (in fact) concise book, which was able to walk me, as a student, through the most important moments and authors of graphic design. One small criticism: it is very Anglo-centric and mainstream. Still, a good read for students.

Jan Tschichold
Translated by Hajo Hadeler
Introduction by Robert Bringhurst

An essential guide to size, shape, and secrets of the written page. A journey through typography, layout, paper, lettering, and all the rules and tips every designer (and writer) should know when approaching the empty page.

Ken Robinson
With Lou Aronica

Ken Robinson has a wonderful way of telling stories (check out his speeches at TED). In this book he tells many and make you feel like yours could be among them. It’s a book about the need to become ourselves against all the limitations that modern society and schools impose. Brilliant!

Norman Potter

Not simple reading, this book questions the very basis of design practice. A must!

Roland Barthes

The section “Myth Today” was one of my favorite readings when I was in my twenties. During my school days at the University of Bologna I came across this book by chance in a little remainders store. It was real discovery for me to learn to see another side of “reality,” from a different and critical perspective and under a strong cultural microscope.

Jean Baudrillard

I keep finding reasons to go back to this book, which I have read and read since the early 1990s. I often carry it with me in my bag and when I open it I find new ideas and radical ways of seeing the world. Together with another book by Baudrillard, The Perfect Crime, it’s one of the reasons I decided to stop watching TV years ago.

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