The best 29 Design books

Design plays a crucial role in shaping our world, from the products we use daily to the spaces we inhabit. Understanding design principles is key to appreciating its impact on our lives. That's why we've compiled this insightful collection of books on design!

Delve into this expertly curated selection to gain valuable perspectives on the intricacies of design. Ready to broaden your horizons and dive into the world of design excellence?

The best 29 Design books
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1
Design Books: A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink

A Whole New Mind

Daniel H. Pink
Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future
4.4 (176 ratings)
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What's A Whole New Mind about?

In an age where computers and well-trained workers from low-paid countries are taking over even white-collar jobs, what can you do to stand out? As we move out of the Information Age and into a new Conceptual Age, the answer is to start embracing the aptitudes associated with the right side of your brain, which were previously thought of as less valuable than analytical left-brain skills.

Who should read A Whole New Mind?

  • Anyone who wants to discover the difference between 20th-century work and 21st-century work
  • Anyone interested in the concept of “right-brain” thinking
  • Anyone who wants to develop the right skills to succeed at work in the modern age

2
Design Books: The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

The Design of Everyday Things

Donald A. Norman
4.3 (336 ratings)
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What's The Design of Everyday Things about?

This book explores the cognitive psychology of good design and what makes a product that responds to users’ needs. The author develops the common barriers to good design, how to reduce and fix errors, and how to bring users and technology closer together.

Who should read The Design of Everyday Things?

  • Designers, product managers, distributors, creators and manufacturers
  • Anyone who teaches design or other disciplines requiring creativity and inventiveness from their employees

3
Design Books: The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda

The Laws of Simplicity

John Maeda
Design, Technology, Business, Life
3.8 (69 ratings)
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What's The Laws of Simplicity about?

The Laws of Simplicity consists of a set of “laws” formulated by the author to try to grasp the meaning and essence of simplicity. Along the way, it provides useful advice on how to introduce simplicity to our daily lives, business and product design.

Who should read The Laws of Simplicity?

  • Anyone who wants to design successful products
  • Anyone who wants to bring more simplicity into their lives
  • Anyone in sales or marketing

4
Design Books: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Steal Like an Artist

Austin Kleon
10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
4.4 (340 ratings)
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What's Steal Like an Artist about?

Steal Like an Artist (2012) will help you unlock the secret to creating great art: theft. No artist creates their work in a vacuum: all art is influenced by the art that came before it. Steal Like an Artist teaches you how to “steal” from the work of your heroes, and use it to create something new and unique. It also provides important advice on using the internet to launch your career, so others can enjoy your creativity!

Who should read Steal Like an Artist?

  • Artists or other creative types
  • Anyone struggling to find inspiration
  • Any artist who needs advice on launching their career

5
Design Books: Art, Inc. by Lisa Congdon and Meg Mateo Ilasco

Art, Inc.

Lisa Congdon and Meg Mateo Ilasco
The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist
3.9 (52 ratings)
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What's Art, Inc. about?

Art, Inc. is a practical guide for artists who want to earn a living from doing what they love. Art, Inc. presents the business side of the art world in a palatable way, sharing useful advice and practical guidance.

Who should read Art, Inc.?

  • Artists who want to stop struggling and earn money from their work
  • Artists who want to understand the business side of the art world

6
Design Books: Make Your Mark by Jocelyn K. Glei

Make Your Mark

Jocelyn K. Glei
The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact
4.2 (46 ratings)
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What's Make Your Mark about?

Make Your Mark features the wisdom and tips of 21 of the most successful entrepreneurs and creatives of the last few years. These artists, coders, developers and writers share the secrets and ideas that have helped them take their respective markets by storm.

Who should read Make Your Mark?

  • People working in the creative industry
  • Anyone looking to turn their creative skills into a business
  • Leaders, managers and CEOs

7
Design Books: Change by Design by Tim Brown

Change by Design

Tim Brown
How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
4.2 (163 ratings)
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What's Change by Design about?

Change by Design (2009) presents a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to designing solutions to address any sort of innovation challenge. In following this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to more creatively develop the stories and inspirations that will lead to tomorrow’s innovations.

Who should read Change by Design?

  • Anyone whose job requires creativity and innovative thinking
  • Anyone interested in finding a better way to address problems in society
  • Business leaders who want to inspire creativity and innovative thinking

8
Design Books: Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf

Lean UX

Jeff Gothelf
Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience
4.2 (138 ratings)
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What's Lean UX about?

Lean UX (2013) is a guide to applying lean principles to interactive design workspaces. These blinks explain the techniques of Lean UX and outline how you can best integrate them into your company’s design process. You’ll learn the importance of close collaboration and customer feedback, as well as how to constantly improve your designs.

Who should read Lean UX?

  • Anyone interested in how lean startup tactics apply to a design environment
  • People who want to design successful user experience more efficiently
  • Managers of design-based projects, or any professionals involved in one

9
Design Books: Creative, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho

Creative, Inc.

Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho
The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business
3.9 (18 ratings)
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00:00

What's Creative, Inc. about?

Creative, Inc. (2010) provides a handy step-by-step guide to setting up and running a freelance business. Clearly structured and packed with tips on everything from advertising and agents to portfolios and pricing, this is an indispensable guide for those considering turning their artistic talents into a freelance career.

Who should read Creative, Inc.?

  • People who want to leverage their creative skills into a freelance business
  • Creative freelancers who want to earn more

10
Design Books: The Power of Visual Storytelling by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio

The Power of Visual Storytelling

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio
How to Use Visuals, Videos and Social Media to Market Your Brand
3.7 (62 ratings)
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What's The Power of Visual Storytelling about?

The Power of Visual Storytelling (2014) is the ultimate guide in showing you how to tell stories through visuals and how to use this technique to your company’s advantage. With well-illustrated examples, these blinks explain in detail how you can master today’s most important social media platforms through powerful images.  

Who should read The Power of Visual Storytelling?

  • Anyone interested in social media marketing
  • Marketers, advertisers and people working in communications
  • Artists and designers eager to tell more compelling visual stories

11
Design Books: Happy City by Charles Montgomery

Happy City

Charles Montgomery
Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design
4.3 (41 ratings)
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What's Happy City about?

Happy City (2013) explains how urban planning can help us live healthier and more joyful lives in the big city. From the history of urban sprawl to design blunders, to strategies that encourage residents to socialize, relax and exercise, these blinks reveal the hidden features that can make or break city life.

Who should read Happy City?

  • Readers thinking about moving to a new city
  • Students of social psychology or urban planning
  • People fascinated by the inner workings of urban life

12
Design Books: The Innovator’s Hypothesis by Michael Schrage

The Innovator’s Hypothesis

Michael Schrage
How Cheap Experiments Are Worth More than Good Ideas
3.8 (51 ratings)
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What's The Innovator’s Hypothesis about?

The Innovator’s Hypothesis (2014) shows us how modern innovation no longer comes from big, costly, time-intensive research and development departments. These days, the innovation process is different. Big ideas come from business experiments being quickly conducted by small teams at little cost. It’s time to get on board and find out how your business can adapt for the future – before it’s too late!

Who should read The Innovator’s Hypothesis?

  • Futurists interested in how the next big idea will emerge
  • Innovators interested in lean and agile systems of creativity
  • Entrepreneurs trying to think outside the box

13
Design Books: Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi

Content Inc.

Joe Pulizzi
How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses
4.5 (82 ratings)
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00:00

What's Content Inc. about?

Content, Inc. (2015) is a useful and practical guide on how to use content management to market your business, attract an audience and bring your ideas to the world. These blinks are packed with tips and tricks that will help you turn that audience into loyal subscribers and allow you to diversify your brand and move to the forefront of your industry.

Who should read Content Inc.?

  • Entrepreneurs looking to start a business
  • CEOs who want a more effective marketing strategy
  • Anyone who wants to disseminate their ideas

14
Design Books: 21 Days to a Big Idea by Bryan Mattimore

21 Days to a Big Idea

Bryan Mattimore
Creating Breakthrough Business Concepts
4.2 (171 ratings)
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What's 21 Days to a Big Idea about?

21 Days to a Big Idea (2015) is your guide to rekindling playful creativity and discovering the countless bright ideas your brain is capable of producing. These blinks share the secrets behind simple yet effective techniques to get your creative juices flowing, and provide helpful tips for turning your wild ideas into a viable business.

Who should read 21 Days to a Big Idea?

  • Entrepreneurs who feel stuck in a creative block
  • Product developers seeking simple creative techniques to incorporate into their routines
  • Business-savvy readers looking for inspiration for a new project

15
Design Books: The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton

The Architecture of Happiness

Alain de Botton
3.9 (79 ratings)
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What's The Architecture of Happiness about?

The Architecture of Happiness (2006) is about how humans relate to architecture and design. These blinks demystify the power of architecture by explaining why different people prefer specific buildings, how design speaks to us and how we can use architecture to bring out our best.

Who should read The Architecture of Happiness?

  • People with an interest in architecture and design
  • Anyone looking for a novel perspective on human happiness

16
Design Books: 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan M. Weinschenk

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

Susan M. Weinschenk
4.3 (262 ratings)
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What's 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People about?

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (2011) is an essential guide for every designer. Combining research and practical examples, the book illustrates how important it is for designers to know, among many other things, how consumers make decisions and how memory is integral to good design.

Who should read 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People?

  • Product managers and developers
  • Design or psychology students
  • Consumers who want to improve their awareness

17
Design Books: UX Strategy by Jaime Levy

UX Strategy

Jaime Levy
How to Devise Innovative Digital Products That People Want
4.1 (129 ratings)
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00:00

What's UX Strategy about?

UX Strategy (2015) is your guide to integrating business strategy and user experience design. These blinks lay out a concrete path to develop a product and business strategy, as well as product experience that will captivate users, capture market share and catapult your start-up to success.

Who should read UX Strategy?

  • Entrepreneurs and product managers
  • UX, interaction and UI designers
  • Anybody interested in closing the gap between business strategy and UX design

18
Design Books: Value Proposition Design by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Greg Bernarda, Alan Smith, Trish Papadakos

Value Proposition Design

Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Greg Bernarda, Alan Smith, Trish Papadakos
How to Create Products and Services Customers Want
4.3 (164 ratings)
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00:00

What's Value Proposition Design about?

Value Proposition Design (2014) is a comprehensive guide to designing compelling products and services. Real value comes from empathizing with customers to find out what everyday jobs and tasks they need help with. However, coming up a product that helps customers complete these jobs and tasks is only the beginning.

Who should read Value Proposition Design?

  • Aspiring or current entrepreneurs
  • Anyone interested in innovation and value creation

19
Design Books: This is Service Design Thinking by Marc Stickdorn and Jakob Schneider

This is Service Design Thinking

Marc Stickdorn and Jakob Schneider
Basics, Tools, Cases
4.3 (128 ratings)
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What's This is Service Design Thinking about?

This is Service Design Thinking (2011) presents the core principles of service design. By providing tools and real-life examples, it’s a great introduction to this evolving and interdisciplinary approach to designing services. These blinks present the most salient information on the subject.

Who should read This is Service Design Thinking?

  • Entrepreneurs and innovators
  • Students and professionals of design
  • Marketers and consultants

20
Design Books: Do Design by Alan Moore

Do Design

Alan Moore
Why Beauty is Key to Everything
4.5 (129 ratings)
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What's Do Design about?

Do Design (2016) is a nifty handbook for designers, crafters, and creatives of every stripe who want to know what makes design great and how they can achieve it in their own work. Covering a broad notion of design, Do Design goes beyond the design of things to reflect on how we ought to design our businesses and even our lives. Ultimately, these blinks are a call for us to transform human lives for the better by creating more beauty in the world.

Who should read Do Design?

  • Designers who want to improve their creative process
  • Business leaders seeking to optimize their businesses
  • Anyone who wants to create beautiful things

21
Design Books: Start at the End by Matt Wallaert

Start at the End

Matt Wallaert
How to Build Products That Create Change
4.3 (164 ratings)
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What's Start at the End about?

Start at the End (2019) provides a highly practical, step-by-step approach to designing products and services that make an impact on the world. Drawing on behavioral science, the process begins with a simple question: How do we want our potential consumers to act? It then works backward to figure out how to make that vision a reality. 

Who should read Start at the End?

  • Start-up employees looking for a way to shake up their industry’s playing field 
  • Leaders of established companies looking for their next big idea 
  • Entrepreneurs interested in applying behavioral science to their pursuit of business

22
Design Books: Why Design Matters by Debbie Millman

Why Design Matters

Debbie Millman
Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People
3.5 (138 ratings)
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What's Why Design Matters about?

Why Design Matters (2022) is a collection of some of the best interviews from Debbie Millman’s long-running podcast of the same name. It collects over 50 interviews from over 15 years’ worth of conversations. These talks not only explain why design matters, they also show how the principles of design extend to creativity in general and the ways in which we communicate and express ourselves.

Who should read Why Design Matters?

  • Anyone interested in the creative process
  • People fascinated by design and marketing
  • Artists looking for inspiration

23
Design Books: Continuous Discovery Habits  by Teresa Torres

Continuous Discovery Habits

Teresa Torres
Discover Products that Create Customer Value and Business Value
4.2 (293 ratings)
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What's Continuous Discovery Habits about?

Continuous Discovery Habits (2021) explores how product managers and designers can keep making a positive impact on their customers’ lives. It explores an optimal decision-making process for product teams, so that they can continue to improve their offerings. 

Who should read Continuous Discovery Habits ?

  • Product managers looking for a new way of working
  • Entrepreneurs seeking a fresh perspective on creativity
  • Product designers

24
Design Books: The Home Edit by Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin

The Home Edit

Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin
A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals
3.2 (83 ratings)
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What's The Home Edit about?

The Home Edit (2019) proposes a straightforward formula to organize any part of the home in a way that is functional, classy, and easy to maintain. The technique it teaches is equally easy for other members of the household to learn and apply, so that everyone can enjoy a calm, happy home environment.

Who should read The Home Edit?

  • Anyone trying to maintain order and beauty in their homes
  • Parents teaching their kids good housekeeping habits
  • Interior designers trying to help clients maintain the spaces they create

25
Design Books: Visual Thinking by Temple Grandin

Visual Thinking

Temple Grandin
The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions
4.1 (229 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Visual Thinking about?

Visual Thinking (2022) offers an authoritative view on different ways of thinking, and how those differences have been crucial to many of our biggest creative advancements. It shows how society tends to be biased toward verbal thinkers – and how visual thinkers, albeit typically underserved in society, bring an array of crucial skills to various domains.

Who should read Visual Thinking?

  • Anyone curious about autism
  • Artists and creative minds
  • People interested in team-building

26
Design Books: Well-Designed by Jon Kolko

Well-Designed

Jon Kolko
How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love
3.7 (196 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Well-Designed about?

Well-Designed (2014) is about the transformative power of empathy in product design. It explains how understanding and empathizing with users can lead to innovative and beloved products. The book offers practical advice on observing user behavior, understanding their needs, and creating products that resonate deeply with them.

Who should read Well-Designed?

  • Product designers
  • User experience professionals
  • Innovative entrepreneurs

27
Design Books: Emotional Design by Donald A. Norman

Emotional Design

Donald A. Norman
Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
3.4 (266 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Emotional Design about?

Emotional Design (2003) delves into how emotions influence our interactions with everyday objects. It explores the three levels of design – visceral, behavioral, and reflective – and how they affect our perceptions, use, and memories of products. This book reveals the importance of these elements in creating designs that not only function well but also create emotional connections with users.

Who should read Emotional Design?

  • Design enthusiasts
  • Marketing professionals
  • Product developers

28
Design Books: Brave Together by Chris Deaver & Ian Clawson

Brave Together

Chris Deaver & Ian Clawson
Lead by Design, Spark Creativity, and Shape the Future with the Power of Co-Creation
3.9 (58 ratings)
Listen to the Intro
00:00

What's Brave Together about?

Brave Together (2024) explores the transformative potential of cocreation for sparking innovation and driving leadership success. Through practical advice and insights, it demonstrates how to harness collective creativity to shape a visionary future and foster a culture of collaborative achievement.

Who should read Brave Together?

  • Corporate leaders and management teams
  • Creative professionals and innovators
  • Anyone interested in enhancing creativity and collaboration

29
Listen to the Intro
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What's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction about?

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935) is a pioneering examination of how mechanical reproduction – particularly via photography and film – transformed the nature, value, and perception of art. It explores the concept of the "aura" of a work of art and how this aura diminishes in a reproduced work.

Who should read The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction?

  • Art history students
  • Modern artists and critics
  • Scholars interested in media theory

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Design Books
 FAQs 

What's the best Design book to read?

While choosing just one book about a topic is always tough, many people regard A Whole New Mind as the ultimate read on Design.

What are the Top 10 Design books?

Blinkist curators have picked the following:
  • A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
  • The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda
  • Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
  • Art, Inc. by Lisa Congdon and Meg Mateo Ilasco
  • Make Your Mark by Jocelyn K. Glei
  • Change by Design by Tim Brown
  • Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf
  • Creative, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho
  • The Power of Visual Storytelling by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio

Who are the top Design book authors?

When it comes to Design, these are the authors who stand out as some of the most influential:
  • Daniel H. Pink
  • Donald A. Norman
  • John Maeda
  • Austin Kleon
  • Lisa Congdon and Meg Mateo Ilasco