Check out what Designers are reading this Summer

From human-centred design to design justice and diversity to the business of design, below is a list of books inspiring Members. 





By Bruce Mau

Recommended by Greg Dubeau RGD, Freelance Graphic Designer

"There was a point in my career, not so long ago, that I fell out of love with design. It was difficult for me to find purpose in what I was doing or meaning in why I was doing it. During that time, I was given Bruce Mau’s recent manifesto, MC24. Learning about how he evolved his practice from human-centred design into life-centred design shook me awake. The philosophy of designing for ecologies and not isolated problems broadened my perspective on how I can impact the world through my work."

The Mash Up: Hip-Hop Photos Remixed by Iconic Graffiti Artists

Photographs by Janette Beckman; curated by Cey Adams

Recommended by Erin Grandmaison RGD, Graphic Designer at Bruce Power

"I'm a big fan of the 80/90’s Def Jam record album covers and this book covers all the classic campaigns and album visuals for artists including Run DMC, Salt-N-Pepa, LL Cool J and Beastie Boys, to name a few. A mashup of iconic hip hop photographs intertwined with graffiti art, this book brings you back to styles of the past and has helped shaped many people’s creative passion including my own."

Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You

By John Warrillow

Recommended by Denny Kurien RGD, Co-Founder & Creative Director at Rayvn Design

"This is the story of a fictional small business owner, Alex Stapleton, who owns a branding and design agency but struggles to sell it. Alex turns to Ted, an entrepreneur and old family friend, who encourages Alex to pursue three criteria to make his business sellable. First, teachability — focus on products and services that you can teach employees to deliver. Second, building value — avoid price wars by specializing in doing one thing better than anyone else. Third, repeatability — generate recurring revenue by engineering products that customers have to repurchase often."


Design Justice

By Sasha Constanza-Chock

Recommended by Lawrence Ly RGD, Service Designer at Healthcare Human Factors

"Our RGD 2SLGBTQIA Virtual Community started reading Design Justice by Sasha Constanza-Chock. The book explores the theory and practice of design justice, challenges conventional ways we design things and promotes how we can build a more inclusive world where many worlds co-exist. I’m drawn to the idea of how designers should become facilitators, where we work together with communities to re-distribute power and to recognize existing knowledge systems and lived experiences, especially from people who are marginalized or carry intersectional burdens. These ideas, and many more, are pushing me to become a more compassionate and engaging designer. I hope this book inspires you to examine our world more critically, as we continue to fight to protect queer rights, push for racial equity and prioritize health access for all people. Together, we can make a difference."


Mastering Community: The Surprising Ways Coming Together Moves Us from Surviving to Thriving

By Christine Porath
Recommended by Meg Lynch RGD, Design Director at Forge Media + Design
We all strive to create connections to feel a sense of belonging within our personal lives, design communities and workplaces. In this book, Christine Porath shares inspiring stories of how others foster, support and embrace community for the better. Whether you're part of a small two-person design team or work at a large global agency with thousands of employees, this book contains practical methods and tips to build and strengthen the concept of community for more meaningful experiences. With digestible chapters focus on the building blocks of shaping communities, Christine's perspective is fresh, thoughtful and her book is well worth the read!

Extra Bold

By Ellen Lupton, Farah Kafei, Jennifer Tobias, Josh Halstead, Kaleena Sales, Leslie Xia, Valentina Vergara

Recommended by Laura Stein RGD, Chief Creative Officer at Bruce Mau Design

"Extra Bold is "a feminist, inclusive, anti-racist, non-binary field guide for graphic designers". Theory, history, biographies, interviews and an intro to working designer life from a diversity of perspectives all come together in a super-engaging format that is funny and resonant, even while they tackle big topics: "How do I come out at work?," "How do I identify misappropriation?," "Do I need to quit my job?". Riffs on classic maps and choose-your-own-adventure diagrams ("Am I mansplaining?"), comics and artifacts all somehow come together and keep us reading, looking and learning. I love that the contributors range from Tré Seals to Walt Whitman to Shira Inbar to Sojourner Truth. A book/zine/guide/manual for everyone." 


The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression & Reflection

By Anne H. Berry, Kareem Collie, Penina Acayo Laker, Lesley-Ann Noel, Jennifer Rittner and Kelly Walters

Recommended by Kelly Riback Small RGD, Founder, Creative Director at Intents & Purposes and Author of The Conscious Creative 
"In an ongoing effort to decolonize my brain and the Eurocentric education that was its sustenance for all too long, I want to recommend The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression & Reflection. It’s a revolutionary piece of work by communities of people who have been largely — f not entirely — excluded from much of design history and education in favour of modernist European influences. What a gift for future creatives that this new canon exists to reclaim and celebrate the contributions of Black designers.
Many designers have heard of the First Things First manifesto published in The Guardian in 1964 and the 72 (ok, four or five) reboots it has had as recently as 2020. What folks are generally less familiar with is an article that was arguably just as pivotal (if not more) to design history: The Black Experience in Graphic Design published in Print by Dorothy Jackson in 1968. Its subhead reads: “Five talented Black designers candidly discuss the frustrations and opportunities in a field where “flesh-coloured” means pink". More than 50 years later, little has changed — Black designers make up just 3% of the design industry despite being 13% of the total US population. Bobby C. Martin Jr., co-founder of Champions Design in NYC makes the issue clear: “The failure to close that gap is a failure of our educational institutions, our industry organizations and the design profession as a whole.
For these and many more reasons, it’s up to all of us in the industry and beyond to humbly challenge our influences, dismantle our biases and actively put in the work to realize a just future for all."

Reimagining Design: Unlocking Strategic Innovation

By Kevin G. Bethune

Recommended by Mark Rutledge RGD, Senior Creative at Outcrop Communications Ltd.

"A nuclear engineer, sneaker designer, futurist, strategic and industrial designer and author, Kevin’s career trajectory has guided and sculpted his worldview on design. He shares his professional and personal lived experiences as a black man journeying through a distinct and storied career. Diversity, equity, inclusion and innovation are at the heart of Reimagining Design. This book is an essential resource for BIPOC designers and allies who want to break down barriers and shake up the industry."