Design books are not dead.

My design book obsession started in 2002 with The Complete Guide to Digital Graphic Design by Maggie Gordon, purchased with a £20 Waterstones voucher I got for achieving the highest GCSE grade in IT at school. I had no idea what Digital Graphic Design was at the time, but I liked the sound of it.

Today, I have more than 150 design books, sadly maxing out my shelves. But don’t fear, I’m plotting the most epic bookshelf for our next house. I’m thinking floor to ceiling, ladder, secret door, all colour coded… you get my drift.

So, why do I still use design books for inspiration when I have awwwards, Dribble and Behance at my fingertips?

For me, nothing beats flicking through the tactile pages of a book. I’m working all day on a computer, looking at a screen. I find myself switching off to yet another website. If I’m looking for design inspiration I will head to my bookshelf and start skimming. There’s always something inside one of them that sparks an idea. Often, it will be from a book that has zero relevance to the medium or project I’m working on – and that’s the beauty. In a book, you look in unusual places you wouldn’t necessarily go ‘online’ because they appear right in front of you with the turn of a page.

Are design books in danger of becoming outdated?

I often look back at some of my older books and laugh at how dated the design looks, but I love having an archive of how design is evolving over time. We see trends come in and out, and there will always be something relevant – even in The Complete Guide to Digital Graphic Design (2002) and all its Flash website inspiration. RIP Flash.

The book dream

As a designer, some of the best acknowledgments of your work are to have a project realised, to win an award, or be featured in a publication. My two big design dreams have always been to have my work plastered on a 96-sheet billboard (check) and be featured in a design publication (still working on this one). There’s something romantic about work sitting in that book forever, as a memory. It will never expire, go offline, or be upgraded and lost forever.

My favourite design books

I couldn’t end this without sharing my top three essential design books. I have to say, it was like choosing a favourite child (impossible!) but here you go:

1. The Art of Looking Sideways – Alan Fletcher

2. Graphic Fest – Victionary

3. A Smile in the Mind - Beryl McAlhone & David Stuart

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