Jonathan's Reviews > Designing Pornotopia: Travels in Visual Culture

Designing Pornotopia by Rick Poynor
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Jun 12, 14

bookshelves: graphic-design
Read from April 24, 2011 to April 04, 2012

Like his earlier book, Obey the Giant, Pornotopia collects Rick Poynor's essays for publications such as Eye magazine (which he founded and edited). The essays are loosely thematically linked, and deal with the intersection of design and pornography, though in many essays the link is tenuous or nonexistent. That didn't bother me, since I bought the book simply to enjoy more of Poynor's writing, whatever the topic.

Comparing Pornotopia to Poynor's earlier work, there is less of an emphasis in this collection on the transformative powers of graphic design. Poynor still champions designers who give voice to dissenting political viewpoints (Inkahoots) and create work that challenges its audience (Stefan Sagmeister), but I get the sense that he is no longer so optimistic that design can be an effective tool for political and cultural change. Nevertheless, his writing is far from cynical, and I finished the book with a renewed enthusiasm for my own design practice.

Good design criticism is rare, and I consider Poynor's writing to be the gold standard. Poynor writes about graphic design and visual culture in a smart and accessible way, and I would recommend Pornotopia to anyone working in the field of graphic design.
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