By Scott Berkun
210 pages, softcover, $18.99
Published by Berkun Media
How Design Makes the World may be the year’s best-titled book. That’s because it’s not just about good design or how design works, but how the world around us is shaped by design—good, bad and mediocre—and the many decisions that go into making it. While the book has many helpful suggestions for fostering better design, it also lays out in simple prose the complex reasons why the objects that surround us are the way they are.
In the introduction, author Scott Berkun mentions that he took many years to get the book right, and readers should be glad he did. He treats complex subjects with a great balance of interesting anecdotes and insightful lessons. Never condescending to even the least-successful designs—hello Segway—he explains everything from the best, and worst, way to design a door handle to why grids of streets sometimes work and sometimes don’t. The result is a comprehensive and detailed overview of the topic that somehow feels both light and relatable.
While an experienced designer might be tempted to see this book as a good gift for a clueless friend or family member—which it is—she will likely be surprised to find that there are plenty of lessons in it for her too, not least in the helpful bibliography that ends the book. If you’re looking for your next brainy but fast read, How Design Makes the World comes highly recommended. —Joe Shepter