Design: The Invention of Desire

Yale University Press

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Jessica Helfand 

Hardcover | 23.62 x 17.15 x 2.79 cm | 224 pp

Yale University Press | 2016 | 9780300205091

This is a compelling defence for the importance of design and how it shapes our behaviour, our emotions, and our lives. Design has always prided itself on being relevant to the world it serves, but interest in design was once limited to a small community of design professionals.

Today, books on “design thinking” are best sellers, and computer and Web-based tools have expanded the definition of who practices design. Looking at objects, letterforms, experiences, and even theatrical performances, award-winning author Jessica Helfand asserts that understanding design's purpose is more crucial than ever. Design is meaningful not because it is pretty but because it is an intrinsically humanist discipline, tethered to the very core of why we exist. For example, as designers collaborate with developing nations on everything from more affordable lawn mowers to cleaner drinking water, they must take into consideration the full range of a given community’s complex social needs. Advancing a conversation that has unfolded around the globe, Helfand offers an eye-opening look at how designed things make us feel as well as how―and why―they motivate our behaviour.

Jessica Helfand is an artist, designer and theorist. A founding editor of Design Observer, she is the author of numerous books on visual and cultural criticism,including Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media, and Visual Culture, Reinventing the Wheel, and Scrapbooks: An American History. Helfand is Artistin Residence at the Yale Institute for Network Science and Senior Critic at the Yale University School of Art. She was named the first Henry Wolf Resident in design at the American Academy in Rome in 2010 and won the AIGA medal, the design profession's highest honour, in 2013.


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