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By Maggie McNab

312 pages, softcover, $44.99, published by New Riders, www.newriders.com

Thoughtful people often have a central theme that stays with them for their entire lives—a concept that becomes an essential part of their persona. Design by Nature is Maggie McNab’s personal bible, her magnum opus. Like the roots of a tree, this theme provides an anchor for her. And she has generously extended this anchor to all of us.

Design by Nature’s 300 pages are filled with stunning and informative visuals and written commentary. The patterns and principles of nature are expressed in historical and contemporary imagery, annotated in just enough well-chosen words to provide meaning and context. Chapters explore the shapes, patterns, efficiency, structure ethics and, obviously, the aesthetics of nature as it relates to the world of design.

Since McNab is
a conceptual thinker as well as a good and savvy designer, she provides the core content and, within the chapters, she has invited other designers to add their insights. These guests include: Stefan Sagmeister on obsessions and his mesmerizing 250,000 euro cents street art project; Ellen Lupton on digestible information and spicing up a poster about bad
food for kids by adding a punch, literally; and John Langdon on symmetry in handlettering and how to create a handlettered ambigram.

Most of all there is a timeliness and timelessness to this book. It does not sit on a shelf, it gets used, perused, referred to constantly. McNab hopes that “the book will inspire people to remember that while we are here on this planet, we can participate in the process of living by creating meaning with beauty.”

Like nature, the possibilities are endless. Is there a volume two coming? Let’s hope. —DK Holland

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