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A Book About Design

June 27, 2005

A mini book review, in response to a fantastic youth-oriented design book found while out browsing this past weekend.

A good eye can’t be taught, but solid design principles can. As someone who recently put together just over 300 pages of design writing (among other things), you can bet I appreciate a book that does it in a fraction of that.

Aimed at a younger crowd, the simple writing style and accompanying illustrations of A Book About Design : Complicated Doesn’t Make It Good make it an ideally approachable book for any budding young designer. But don’t let the intended reading age of 9 to 12 fool you, the lessons contained within are relevant to any age of reader.

The simple setup of this book allows for surprising clarity, which you can see for yourself with Amazon’s Search Inside this Book feature. Textual pages sit on left-hand pages, with full-page diagrams on the right. Case in point: the mini-chapter about contrast runs three or four pages of teaser text with completely black facing illustration pages on each, and then the fifth page slams a giant white number 3 in the middle of the black pages to drive the point home.

For such a brief read, it covers a surprising amount of ground in a no-nonsense, visual way. If you can take the principles in this book to heart, you can safely sleep through the first few months of design school. That’s bang for your buck. For the simple and subtle way this book accomplishes what it sets out to do, I give it a ten out of ten.

Ryan says:
June 27, 01h

I wish I was 9 and had this book. Maybe then I would have become a better designer.


June 27, 01h

Thanks for the recommendation!

June 27, 02h

Too bad Amazon doesn’t accept Paypal. And the seller on eBay doesn’t ship internationally. Does somebody know a website where they accept paypal and ship internationally? Thanks.

June 27, 08h

I wonder how well a design coloring book would go over. Something where there are outlines and you have to fill them in to demonstrate the effects. Maybe even a digital coloring book that helps you learn to “place” things. Who knows the feasibility or even if it would sell.

Can you just imagine it though, suddenly there are 3 year olds who can put together better color schemes for rooms, webpages, and print media than some random 30 year old off the street.

Tommy says:
June 27, 10h

Oh no! Look what you made me do. I bought the book :) Well, it wasn’t only your fault. The sample pages looked good, so I thought this book will be nice to have in the shelf (after it is read ofcourse). Have a nice day!

June 27, 11h

*Some guy at Amazon is currently scratching his head trying to figure out why the spike in sales of this product…*

Gilles says:
June 27, 12h

On the book is better shown:

Thanks for pointing out this book!

Ruy says:
June 28, 05h

So, I picked up this book in a bit of a rush from Chapters - didn’t really open it.

Imagine my surprise when I got home and finished reading it while having a cigarette - hahah.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it really was pretty cool - but considering it can be read in all of 5 minutes, if you are short on money I’d say just read it in the store and use the money to buy something more substantial (like, say, David’s book).

June 28, 05h

Wow, a book I might actually be able to finish. I’ll have to check it out!

Scottish says:
June 28, 05h

So… what’s with him using his example of a design getting too complicated (see the link posted by the ever-so-kind Gilles) as the cover of his book?

xerces says:
June 28, 10h

Maybe the two books should be sold as a bundle.

June 28, 11h

Marc Kohlbrugge,


Marc Kohlbrugge says:
June 29, 01h

I think you should read the book more than once.. it serves more as a reminder.

Mario De Zutter:
No luck, his website links to the amazon site.. I may send him an email..

Jem says:
August 02, 07h

I’ve only just (today) managed to justify spending £20 on your book, and now you’re suggesting we buy another? Heh.

Seriously though, looking at the Amazon previews I am intrigued. I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out for it in the local book shops.