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Posted June 23, 2013
I have always been a big fan of good design, but have never really had an opportunity to read much about it from those who make design their living. Recently, thanks to some advanced prototyping and manufacturing tools that have become widely accessible, I’ve been dabbling into design and have made a few of my own gadgets. At the same time I came across this book in the local public library, and thought it would be a good reading material to go with my fledgling design hobby. However, the book turned into a bit of a disappointment.
This book is neither an introduction to the design concepts and techniques, nor a wide-ranging look at the future of design. It comes closer to the latter paradigm, but the narrowness of its subjects and the shallowness of approach don’t lend themselves easily to the deeply thoughtful look at the design of the future things. The book takes a closer look at the issues that pertain to the design of a few interesting “futuristic” technologies (self-driving cars in particular feature prominently), and presents the case to the reader that what we would want out of these technologies may in fact not be either the safest or the best designed solution when it comes to their implementations. The book offers a few insightful observations, and a short checklist of good design principles. Many of these are pretty good overall, but the brunt of their points could have been summarized into an essay that is perhaps a third of the size of this, already very thin, book.
If you are looking for some casual musings by an authority on the subject of design, then this book might be for you. Otherwise you may want to read something that is a bit more technical and systematic. From what I’ve heard about it, The Design of Everyday Things might be a much better read on this subject. I’ll try to check it out at some point in the future.
Posted December 19, 2009
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As a graduate student, I took a course called "Human-Computer Interaction Design", and we read various works of Don Norman, starting with his "The Design of Everyday Things". I picked this book up because for said class we were working on a project designing for the future. It has turned out to be so much more interesting and relevant than expected.
It is a narrative that flows smoothly and easily through some of the different issues Norman thinks people should think about. It is a straightforward and entertaining read, while still making you feel smarter afterward. It will likely change the way you think about traffic circles, doors, and other things you would have never imagined caring a whit about.