6 Must Read Books for Design Students

Updated October 6, 2023

To be a good designer, you can’t stop learning even for a minute. A professional must develop in all directions: from composition and typography to self-presentation, or even psychology. We have compiled a selection of books that will help you gain important skills and expand the boundaries of your knowledge for each of the areas.

Of course, sometimes it’s hard to focus on reading because of numerous college assignments. That is why more and more students outsource their papers to essay writing service EssayPro.com to save time for other activities. So, if you want to become a master of visual art and be among those who bring beauty to the world, this collection is for you.

«Objects of Desire: Design and Society Since 1750», by Adrian Forty

The book explains the history of design of items in a very simple way. It also describes where and why designers appeared.

The clothes we wear, products we eat – all of them are design objects. And since design occupies such a major place in our everyday life, we catch ourselves thinking: what is design, what are its functions and where did it come from?

The author conducts a historical study of design and its significance in society. Using examples from various areas of human life, he demonstrates that the appearance and structure of things around us are more than the result of a designer’s imagination. Why? Design is influenced by crucial social processes as well as the production economy, state politics and many others.

«The Design of Everyday Things», by Don Norman

Don Norman’s book shows us the essence of design. It explains why the things that surround us were created the way they are now, and how they can be improved according to human-centered design.

Even smart people feel like fools when they can’t turn on the light, or don’t know what to do with the door – whether to push it or pull. The reason for this is the design that neglects user’ needs and the basics of cognitive psychology.

Norman analyzes common user mistakes and recommends designers various ways to prevent them. He explains the basic requirements of users and introduces the reader to the popular mistakes that designers make.

«The Art of Color», by Johannes Itten

Johannes Itten, a Swiss artist, was known as a researcher of color in art as well as a connoisseur of classical and modern European art. His observations of color in nature and works of art from different times became the basis of the book.

The author examines the patterns of color contrasts, color harmony and color design. His goal was to free the artist’s consciousness and help them develop a sense of color.

«The Art of Color» was reissued several times and was included in the educational programs of many art schools around the world. The book by Johannes Itten is perfect for those who want to learn how to master the harmony of color.

«Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works», by Erik Spiekermann

If you have ever been to Germany and rode German trains, then you might have noticed signs at bus stops and train stations. They are all written in a font called Deutsche Bahn, created by Eric Spiekermann. He is also the author of Audi’s typeface and the design for «The Ecоnomist» magazine.

Spiekermann’s book is for those who want to understand the nuances of typography. Using simple and familiar examples, the author proves that typography is a powerful tool available to everyone who has something to say.

The font accompanies us everywhere: on food packaging, signs, TV screens and smartphones. And Spiekermann proves that type is a language that connects an author with the reader. The author tells the history of different typefaces and their competent use. He also answers the question, ‘why we need more fonts in our everyday life.’

«100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People», by Susan Weinschenk

It is necessary to know the psychology of human behavior if you want to create an intuitive and attractive design, no matter if it is a website, application, product, or brand. This book is not a typical set of design principles and rules, but an in-depth, hands-on study of what underlies human behavior.

Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. in Psychology, draws on the latest research to showcase numerous examples of eye-catching design. To help you make your design better, she answers such questions as:

  • How do people think? How do they make decisions?
  • What makes a person click a button or buy something?
  • How to get people’s attention? What mistakes do they make and why?

Must Read Books for Design


«Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities», by David Airey

David Airey’s book is an amazing guide to creating unique and iconic logos. It’s full of examples, sketches and practical information. The author not only describes the technology for developing a logo and corporate style, but also reveals behind the scenes and design processes that take place in practice.

Airey will guide you through the creation of an iconic brand from the very first ideas to their final implementation, using the experience of the most famous designers. To write the book, he brought in other professionals who shared their insights and experiences. And together they showed what is really going on between them and their clients.

Here, you will find out what questions you need to ask in order to work with the client productively, generate ideas after the brief, and present your results in the best possible way.

Final Thoughts

Dostoevsky once said: «Beauty will save the world». In the modern world, this quote might sound like this: «Design will save the world».

The demand for design books is growing as the number of professionals willing to develop in this area is increasing. Of course, books can provide a good basis, show real cases and help you choose your own unique path in this creative field.

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