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100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design by Steven Heller & Veronique Vienne

December 21, 2015


This could be called “A Cursory Survey of Words You Might Hear in an Intro to Graphic Design Class.” It has no other organizing principle beyond that. And while there are some helpful references, it all feels very random, mostly because the authors use the term “idea” loosely and inconsistently. “White Space” and “Asymmetric Type” get sections, but so do “Nostalgia,” “Riddles and Rebuses,” “Corporate Identity” and “Red With Black.” “Record Album Covers,” “Dust Jackets” and “Teen Magazines” (all media, not ideas) have sections, but then there’s a separate section for “Big Book Look” and another for just “The Book.” “Pointing Fingers” gets a chapter, as does “Floating Heads” and “Clenched Fists,” but there’s no chapter for “Legs” (or I suppose “Walking Legs”). Some chapters are about principles (“Less Is More”), others about design criticism publications (“Good Design”) and others about movements (“Design Thinking”). It would be like a book called Ideas That Changed Writing including chapters on “Nouns,” “Books,” “Punctuation,” “Communication,” “Television Scripts,” “Poetry,” “Charles Dickens,” “The 1940s,” “Metaphors” and “The Word Sinister.”

It’s not a terrible book to have around, although there’s very little depth to any of the topics. And it would be much more useful if the authors stuck to “Techniques,” “Devices,” “Principles,” “Movements” or were just a little more consistent with what they consider “Ideas.”

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