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Thoughts on Design
Paul Rand
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Thoughts on Design

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  308 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
One of the seminal texts of graphic design, Paul Rand's Thoughts on Design is now back in print for the first time since the 1970s. Writing at the height of his career, Rand articulated in his slender volume the pioneering vision that all design should seamlessly integrate form and function. This facsimile edition preserves Rand's original 1947 essay with the adjustments h ...more
Hardcover, 95 pages
Published December 31st 1970 by Studio Vista (first published January 1st 1970)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,061)
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Nov 22, 2014 Callie rated it it was ok
It's probably sacrilege to say this, but I was disappointed in this book. It took me all of 20 minutes to read it. Given the time at which it was written, its focus is understandably on graphic design and advertising. I found a few tidbits that I thought were relevant to my work today, but wish there was more.

I have mixed feelings about Paul Rand. He brought a lot of exposure to design, but left Yale in protest after a feminist leader (Sheila Levrant de Bretteville) took over their historic gra
Derek Emerson
Dec 27, 2014 Derek Emerson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books-read
This short book is a small goldmine of how to think about design. If you know anyone interested in graphic design, hand them this book. There are many highlights, but I especially loved his take on a misplaced focus on typography. "The real difference likes in the way 'space' is interpreted: that is, the way in which an image is place on a sheet of paper. Such incidental questions as the use of sans-serif typefaces, lowercase letters, ragged settings, primary colors, etc. are at best variables, ...more
May 31, 2015 Cameron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Mad Men era commentary on the basic principles of design by one of America's great graphic designers, supported with great visuals. A closing caption:

"Even if it is true that the average man seems most comfortable with the commonplace and familiar, it is equally true that catering to bad taste, which we so readily attribute to the average reader, merely perpetuates that mediocrity and denies the reader one of the most easily accessible means for esthetic development and eventual enjoyment." -P
Mar 29, 2013 Leah rated it it was amazing
a jewel, a keepsake!

If ever there lived an iconic designer/illustrator, it was the late Paul Rand (1914-1996). In this now 4-decades old treasure of a book, Rand exegetes, illustrates, and explains symbol and word. But is word not symbol in itself and is symbol not a kind of speech? In less than 100 pages you can read about beauty and utility, humor, typography, and imagination. In contrast to fine art, design has a function, typically as a solution for a problem or concern; graphic, photographi
May 24, 2015 Philip rated it really liked it
This is a small book, less than a hundred pages, largely with graphics (naturally), and it starts off with fairly general pronouncements, but there's some good stuff once it gets going, in particular some directives I haven't seen before, like making use of repetition, and avoid choosing a font style correlated with the subject (e.g. the cliche of "chop suey" lettering). I wouldn't say this is a must-have on your designer bookshelf, but, hey, it's Paul Rand.
Ronan Mcdonnell
Rand was a design genius. He was nervous about writing. I can see why. This book unfortunately offers little insight into his techniques or conceptual approach. It is as if it was written to start his own legend, showing his work off couched in a durable monograph. Essentially it offers a single nugget of advice to designers: make your work interesting and think before you do.
Brett Bonowicz
May 30, 2015 Brett Bonowicz rated it it was amazing
"Even if it is true that the average man seems most comfortable with the commonplace and familiar, it is equally true that catering to bad taste, which we so readily attribute to the average reader, merely perpetuates that mediocrity and denies the reader one of the most easily accessible means for esthetic development and eventual enjoyment."
Aug 22, 2014 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful launching pad for some of the most concrete concepts in design. Who better to learn from than Paul Rand? This book is full of basic examples with high level justifications.

Like good design, this book "elevates the commonplace" and seemlessly integrates "the beautiful and the useful".
Jan 06, 2015 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The title accurately describes the book - it contains Rand's thoughts on various elements of design with plenty of thought-provoking examples. This feels more like a reference work, something that will probably grow on me over time.
Sep 08, 2014 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition



Still not only relevant but vitally necessary.

I you work in art and design, if you're interested in art and design, or, if your just a critic of art and design, have this slim, huge book always at your side!
Daniel Schwebel
Feb 17, 2016 Daniel Schwebel rated it it was amazing
Considered to be the 'bible' of the Mad Men era in Advertising and Design. It is only short. But has some solid advice that is still relevant to artists & designers today.
Kathy Vincenz
Aug 29, 2014 Kathy Vincenz rated it liked it
Very esoteric, and the art seemed dated. I think someone had to have an understanding of graphic art as art before they came to this book.
Jesper Vestergaard
Great introduction to still relevant topics and distinctions of design. Both instructional and rich in perspective.
Jim Nielsen
Sep 18, 2014 Jim Nielsen rated it it was amazing
Great book full of great insights from a great designer. The only downside is that I was left wanting more!
Lara Thompson
An essay compiled with many examples as a little book. A lot of theory, most of it with application. Better aimed at someone already with a background in design but still a lot to appreciate for the layman.
Alex Torrance
Jan 19, 2015 Alex Torrance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent essay from one of the true masters of graphic design.
Steven Phelps
Jul 15, 2015 Steven Phelps rated it liked it
Absolutely timeless and yet completely dated.
Aug 14, 2016 Dmitry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-short
жалко, что русское издание не цветное
Blythe Musteric
Jun 25, 2016 Blythe Musteric rated it it was amazing
Can't go wrong with an essay about design written by one of my favorite graphic artists.
Nov 15, 2015 Veronika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
timeless & inspiring. a nice warm blanket to wrap yourself into as a designer.
Cam Hoff
This didn't deliver on my admittedly high expectations. The brevity of it make it worth picking up however. I will give it a second read, and try to digest it a little better.

And what's up with the minimal top margin?
Feb 05, 2013 HoLoN* marked it as to-read
Leonard Houx
Jan 18, 2016 Leonard Houx rated it it was ok
A charming, short book of Paul Rand's thoughts on design. Mostly pictures. I enjoyed it (especially the pictures) but I wouldn't expect and pearls of wisdom. Nothing original here.
Alexander Katin
Alexander Katin marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2016
Weston Sorenson
Weston Sorenson is currently reading it
Aug 27, 2016
jchoi marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2016
Joanna Gutowska
Joanna Gutowska rated it liked it
Aug 25, 2016
Andrew added it
Aug 25, 2016
drdrwhite rated it it was ok
Aug 24, 2016
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Hard to find 1 3 Aug 26, 2014 01:21PM  
  • How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer
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  • The Shape of Design
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  • Symbol
  • Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design
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  • Clients From Hell: A collection of anonymously-contributed client horror stories from designers
  • Paul Rand: Conversations with Students
  • Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the Field
  • Geometry of Design: Studies in Proportion and Composition
  • Meggs' History of Graphic Design
  • Drawing Ideas: A Hand-Drawn Approach for Better Design
  • Visual Grammar
  • Design Writing Research
  • Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams

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Paul Rand (born Peretz Rosenbaum) was an American graphic designer, best known for his corporate logo designs. Rand was educated at the Pratt Institute (1929–1932), and the Art Students League (1933–1934). He was one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design. From 1956 to 1969, and beginning again in 1974, Rand taught design at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Rand was indu ...more
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“In essence, it is not what it looks like but what it does that defines a symbol.” 4 likes
“To distort the letters of the alphabet in “the style of” Chinese calligraphy (sometimes referred to as chop suey lettering), because the subject happens to deal with the Orient is to create the typographic equivalent of a corny illustration. To mimic a woodcut style of type to “go with” a woodcut; to use bold type to “harmonize with” heavy machinery, etc., is cliché-thinking. The designer is unaware of the exciting possibilities inherent in the contrast of picture and type matter. Thus, instead of combining a woodcut with a “woodcut style” of type (Neuland), a happier choice would be a more classical design (Caslon, Bodoni, or Helvetica) to achieve the element of surprise and to accentuate by contrast the form and character of both text and picture.” 0 likes
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