The time has come!

We’ve all booked our availability in the company’s calendar. We’ve found our dream destinations for this year; Greek islands, Florence, South of France… We’ve booked our tickets and hotels. What we still haven’t found is what books shall we take with us?

Would you like to help us? To reciprocate we’ve made our short list with the books we think you’d like to read during your holidays.

The Architecture of Happiness – Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton’s, The Architecture of Happiness is a beautiful book not about the specifically architectural characteristics of space, plan, volume and design, but much more about the emotions that architecture inspires in the user of buildings.

It tries to answer the naïve question: “What is a beautiful building?” Is it the design, function, technology and shape that often preoccupies the architects? Or is it the emotions of order, simplicity, balance and harmony a building evokes? Is it something to be left only in the hands of professionals? Or is it perhaps a constant awareness and dialogue with our surroundings that affects our well-being and happiness?

Reading it you can’t avoid thinking of how we design for people, and how can we use our digital mediums to make people feel at ease.

Creativity, Inc - Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace

‘Creativity’ has been such a buzz-word next to ‘innovation’ that if it paid a cent every time one uses it, the Greek debt would had already been paid-off. However, if someone is entitled to have the word ‘creativity’ on his cover, that is Pixar. Ed Catmull, computer scientist and current president of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios, is sharing the ideals and techniques, honed over years, that have made Pixar so widely admired.

The book at its heart is a book about how to build and sustain a creative culture — or as Ed Catmull writes:

“An expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

As a designer you’ll find a lot of similarities in the process filmmakers and designers follow; prototypes/storyboards, fail fast/fail often, critique/ ‘Braintrust’ sessions, and many more. A must read manual for anyone who strives for originality.

Metaphors We Live By – George Lakoff, Marc Johnson

Metaphors We Live By was published in 1980, and is just as radical today as when it was first printed. It’s a must read for every designer, but not something to accompany your mojito with. It’s a demanding read, discussing how metaphors shape our language and therefore the way we think. Once you read it, you’ll start noticing the metaphors in everything you say. You’ll realise how central they are to the way we understand the world. They are not merely an accident of language, but rooted in our minds and even bodies. Take for instance the way we conceptualise TIME:


You’re wasting my time.

This gadget will save you hours.

I don’t have the time to give you.

Personally I’ve found the book extremely helpful when designing and I ask myself how to conceptualise time, space, positive/negative for a specific interface. A great read, that might make your head buzz sometimes but that you’ll remember long after having finished it.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz

I’m not a big fan of ‘self-help’ books but I make an exception for this, as it’s written by Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs.

Horowitz offers essential advice on building and running a startup — practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover. Horowitz, a lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

If you’re into the startup world, then this definitely the book you should read this summer.

Notes on the Synthesis of Form – Christopher Alexander

Last, a classic book on the process of design:

“The process of inventing things which display new physical order, organization, form, in response to function.” –Christopher Alexander

In this book, Christopher Alexander examines the problem of design at an elemental level. For Alexander designing is the same whether you are designing a teakettle or a house or a village. He breaks it down to first principles and presents basic definitions of terms like ‘form’, ‘context’, and ‘ensemble’. It can seem a little abstract and academic, but he offers enough real world examples to keep your eyes from crossing.

Next, he presents the argument that design is not the creation of the ideal form, but rather the systematic eradication of ‘misfit’; that is something about a form that does not fit its context. What we’re trying to highlight during our design critiques and design iterations.

Last, he presents a way to systematise design work and to solve design problems mathematically, using set theory. You’re eyes will start to cross here, so if you’re on the beach reading this, have a couple of dives, take some deep breaths and continue reading. It’ll pay you off.

That’s all! We’re looking forward to hear your suggestions.Enjoy your summer vacation with the people you love the most!

This articles was originally published on Medium for Central.