Thursday, December 02, 2010

Favorite books in Design Theory, Version Deux

In 2007 I posted a post with the same title as this one. I read this old post today and saw that it is time to update the list. This is how I introduced the list in 2007:

"I had a meeting today with a PhD student from another department and was asked what to read if you want to get into the more theoretical and philosophical aspects of design and that had influenced my work. It was a good exercise and I came at least up with a few books, even though I am sure I have forgotten some that might be even more influential on my thinking."

So, I have kept the old list and added some book that I had forgotten or that have been published since then. Even though I have only picked book that have had serious influence, the list keeps growing. I do not always have the full references but instead some have links.

The list is in no particular order, so here we go:

Lundeqvist, Jerker. (1982?) "Norm och modell" (Norm and Model). in Swedish
This was Jerker's PhD thesis and it really opened the door for me to design theory!

Simon's book is a must in the area.

Maybe the most influential book for me.

Lawson, Bryan. "How Designers Think"
Lawson's book really helped me to form my own understanding of design.

Dunne, Joseph "Back to the Rough Ground"
Probably the best book ever on practical knowledge and judgment.

The best contemporary book on design theory.

Lawson, Brian. & Dorst, Kees. "Design Expertise"
A really good introduction to what it means to be good at design.

This book was first published in 1969 and is a wonderful book on the relation between craft and design, functionality and aesthetics.

Alexander, Christoffer. "The Timeless Way of Building"
Even though Alexander is more famous for his pattern language work, this is the book that is fundamental.

Of all the readings in philosophy of technology, this is the one that has influenced me the most. A wonderful critique of contemporary design and technology.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Still one of the best and maybe only books in psychology that has direct influence on how to think about design.

A book so full of great ideas that it is almost too much. Latour makes the case for reality in a way that makes sense to design theory, it is all about the particular, about here and now.

Marcuse, Herbert. "One-Dimensional Man"
All about the consequences of getting stuck in our understanding of the world, and why we have to critically break out of dominating thought figures. 

and finally some self-promotion...

Nelson, Harold & Stolterman, Erik. "The Design Way - Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World"
Well, our book is out of print, but we are working on a 2nd edition that  will be published by   MIT Press in 2011 (if Harold and I can finish our writing).

Well, I will maybe update and add more later.....


jeffreybardzell said...

It is great to have a curated list like this. Thank you, sir!

Jason de Runa said...

Great list Erik. I plan to read The Timeless Way of Building over the holiday break.

Look forward to your next "book comment:" post.

Erik Stolterman said...

thanks to both of you. I do invite you and anyone else to suggest other books on the list.


Daniel said...

I still read "The Design Way -..." from time to time. . Good luck with the 2nd edition. I will read "Flow:..." I am a strong believer in that we all design our own happiness. Thanks for the tip Erik.
I might be seen as odd :-) but this is happiness for me - "Lightweight Enterprise Architecture" by Fenix Theuerkorn

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
— Leonardo DaVinci


Gim, Hyewon said...

Lundeqvist, Jerker. (1982?) "Norm och modell" (Norm and Model). in Swedish:
I wish to read the thesis. 

Simon, Herbert. "The Science of the Artificial":
Well.. Reduction of Phenomenological Computing systems!

Schön, Donald. "Educating the Reflective Practitioner":
He is the greatest observer of design expertise. I didn’t realize how my drawing practice was influential to jump into this HCI field.

Lawson, Bryan. "How Designers Think":
When I wrote my first paper about Probe study, I used his theory. At that time, I didn’t even realize who he is.

Dunne, Joseph "Back to the Rough Ground":
In this book, there are so many difficult languages to remember in order to understand what he said. However, mostly, I agree with you. This book helps me to fundamentally understand how to construct design theory with practical expertise. Maybe grounded theory?

Krippendorff, Klaus. "The Semantic Turn -- a new foundation for design":
I was almost crying when I read this book. I told you it before.

Lawson, Brian. & Dorst, Kees. "Design Expertise":
I have seen their names and the book, but I haven’t had a chance to learn from them.
I saw a Video Clip when Dorst Kees told something about why design expertise is important for the future technology.
I was impressive by his argument at that time, although I cannot exactly remember what he said now.
I think I have to read this book to be a good designer.

Pye, David. "The Nature and Aesthetics of Design":
You may also want to read traditional design books which come from Ergonomics, Industrial Design and Visual Communication (Graphic Design) design. There are many ones that you can find good resources for HCI design, like the book, Designing Things by Prasad Boradkar, which you introduced us before.

Alexander, Christoffer. "The Timeless Way of Building":
I don’t think I like him. In fact, I was boring when I read the book, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction.
I don’t want to read his other books. Sorry.

Borgmann, Albert. "Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry":
He is also my hero these days. Especially, I love his way to observe technological artifacts. Materialism and Semiotics..

Csikszentmihalyi, M. "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience":
I read this book with Korean. I was able to understand what is meant by Creativity from him.
I didn’t know what I was doing although people call me as a designer. He also wrote the book about ‘pleasure by immersion’. I don’t know English name of the book. You may want to read ‘Sparks of Genius’ by Robert Root-Bernstein and Michele Root-Bernstein. Then, you may realize why drawing practice is important in scientific field.

Marcuse, Herbert. "One-Dimensional Man":
These days, my concern is how I am able to have multiple thinking to project diversely a situation. Is that help to do so if I will read?

Nelson, Harold & Stolterman, Erik. "The Design Way - Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World":
When I understood Kant’s theory, I was also able to understand your book. I still remember how ridiculous I was because I didn’t understand your book whereas I almost understood "The Semantic Turn” by Krippendorff, Klaus.

Thank you so much! You are my academic inspiration! The Best Ever than the authors in this bookshelf.

Erik Stolterman said...

Dear Hyewon

Thanks for your insightful comments on the list! And for your nice words about me. It is appreciated. I am honestly impressed with the way you read and reflect! Quite unusual nowadays. You are doing a great job!