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The Shape of Design

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,003 ratings  ·  109 reviews
"Hi. My name's Frank Chimero. I've spent the better part of the last two years writing and speaking on design and thinking about the topics that orbit the practice: storytelling, concept, craft, and improvisation. I want to take all of the ideas I've had and connected these past few months and capture them in a book format.

I've been teaching for the past 5 years, and I've
Published (first published May 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,003 ratings  ·  109 reviews

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Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was intrigued by this book due to its Cinderella Kickstarter funding story and seeing the author on a number of conference lineups in the last few years. It's a short read (125 pages) and has a nicely understated, well-considered design that implies a gravitas rare in the world of design writing. The Shape of Design doesn't live up to the packaging or the surrounding hype, but it's an admirable failure. To paraphrase a notion in the book, how Chimero presents his ideas has some appeal. Why he ...more
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Designers, especially new ones
Shelves: design, non-fiction
For the most part, I love everything Frank does. He's a great designer and sometimes an even better writer. One of the things I appreciate most about him is that he encourages designers to be more multi-dimensional and to use writing as a way to think about design and the world.

As one of the Kickstarter backers, I got my hands on the ebook a little early and finished half of it on a flight from SF to FL. The first few chapters immediately grabbed and inspired me. So much so, that I couldn't wait
May 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
I normally enjoy Frank's writing, but this was sprawling, self-indulgent, and brimming with clichés.

I'm sure SAIC students will love it, though :P
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Pretty illustrations surrounded by terrible writing.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: art-design, 2012
Sorry, I have removed my review. See this instead: ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this little book to be quite enjoyable. The message was great, and Chimero sucks you in with his writing. I'm not a designer by trade so I can't attest to how this resonates with others, but I found the book to be a great read. ...more
Jonno Cohen
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the smartest, most articulate meditations on design and creativity you'll ever read.

If you've read Frank Chimero's essays or watched his talks online, you'll recognise many of the ideas collected here.

I've spent a year reading, re-reading, highlighting and annotating this book, and I'm sure I'll keep coming back to it. If you work in design or a related field, and you think about what your work means and where it fits in the world, give this book a read.
Kyle Benson
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Frank Chimero briefly explains the purpose of communication focused design within a money and marketability focused world.
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
best book on design that i've read ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Very vanilla, no new or really unique ideas. Might be appropriate for first-year design/art students or someone in marketing.
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ux, non-fiction
Reading through the reviews below, I have to say I was surprised to see so many scoff at the philosophical bent of this book. For one thing, I'm surprised that people are surprised at it. The very design of the book communicates loftiness and artistry; it makes no attempt to sell itself as immediately practical. For another thing, the very practice of design is made up of many things that are elusive, indefinable, uncontrollable and yet must still be understood and mastered to practice well. Thi ...more
Jarkko Laine
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Frank Chimero’s The Shape of Design is a beautiful book.

I can't remember how many times I have told my wife that I like the way the book feels in my hands. As such, the design of the book (done by the author himself) works as an example of the book's message in action. The best design is a gift that connects people. Something that delights the user and does more than he expects.

Or, as Chimero ends the book:

“There is a world we live in and one that we imagine. It is by our movement and invention
Trey Piepmeier
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I helped fund this book on Kickstarter, so I feel liked I helped contribute in some small way. That may or may not have tinted my appreciation of it.

But it's a great book, both inside and out. The binding is beautiful and reminds me old, durable books I saw in the library of my youth. This is a book you could use a weapon and still get years of reading enjoyment out of it.

The contents of the book are short and sweet. It's filled with little kernels of wisdom and deep thoughts. I marked quite a f
Angela Shetler
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have been following Frank's blog for a while now, and I backed the Kickstarter to publish this book because I enjoy his writing style so much. He has a way of making connections between the practical and the fantastic that is engaging and thought provoking. It's best to take it in in chunks, to let the ideas and analogies percolate for a bit before reading again. While I am not a designer, I found the book accessible and engaging, and I liked how much of what Frank puts forth is applicable to ...more
Melissa Balkon
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book downloaded to my Kindle for quite some time, and always felt a bit intimidated by it. I've read a lot of Frank Chimero's articles online, and although I'm sure they are very brilliant, sometimes they have felt a bit over my head. I'm happy to say that I was intimidated for no good reason by this book. It was well-written and moved along quickly. If you're looking to understand the extent of an impact you can have in your design work, I would recommend taking a pass at this boo ...more
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: design
This book might be very good at conveying a fruitful atmosphere in which to begin a design process. It succeeds in telling you in what mental mode it's beneficial to be but it gloriously fails to get to any specifics about HOW to actually do some interesting design. I think most of the book is just flowery words and lofty analogies (some of them actually very good). It's short so actually I did read it whole but it was really hard not to fall asleep... ...more
Wes Baker
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I'll echo what's already been said about this: it felt wishy-washy and a bit heads-in-the-cloud and never really said a lot. There are some good bits and pieces here, but overall it felt like a waste of time. Not so bad I had to stop reading it, just bad enough to not recommend it to anyone I know, and to go so far as to recommend not reading it. I expected a lot more from Mr. Chimero. ...more
Dale Moore
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Somewhat thought-provoking book, that is more of an exploration of the thought process of one designer than a book about the process of design itself. I got a few good thoughts out of it, which I highlighted in iBooks for later inspiration.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Love Frank's writing style, very beautiful, lots of metaphor and analogy. Unfortunately there's little of any real substance and you can't help but feel Frank is trying to show off how 'cultured' he is with his many references to art and japanese poetry etc. ...more
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Great thoughts but I felt that it meandered more than needed. Often when reading I felt each chapter was more an iteration of a basic idea where function should be the primary focus to create good design. Thoughtful but I think should be more like an article or essay versus a book.
Patrick B. G.
Jun 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Meh. Much too abstract, artistic, and rose-tinted to be of much use. I enjoyed many of the stories, and there's some good content, but so much grandeur to wade through. ...more
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book and learnt a lot from what Frank Chimero had to offer in it. The wording was confusing at times but overall it was a beautiful read.
Harald Kirkerød
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Interesting concept about the why's of design. The pompous language makes it a hard read. ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design-thinking
Will use this book as a reference for years to come.
Jeremy Nixon
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was brilliant! An asset in any designer's library. ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: design
I want to start and say that the idea of Why and How -we should design- is worth to write about.
This book could've been a really good, long argumentative essay instead of a collection of -far too many- stories that highlight the main points the author wanted to make.

Essentially, this book starts with individual differences between people that are inherent and probably learned. Then, the author attempts to define the way these individual differences interact with the outer world (e.g. culture, co
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I first came across Frank Chimero on the social media platform Letterboxd, which can be described a bit like goodreads for film - "goodwatches" - and stalked my way to his homepage after being impressed by his taste in cinema.

The past year, I've become more and more interested in designing for the virtual world, and read Chimero's brilliant essay on 'What Screens Want'. Since then I've been a fan of his design-philosophy, and eventually delved into his short and free ebook, 'The Shape of Design
Swati Jaiswal
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Annie Su
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, art-design
saved many pages/passages to let them further ferment and become many gems of wisdom i need to think more about.
as i read more design books or listen to design-oriented talks, these slices of info help me realize more and more how much of the world is designed (maybe this is a "duh" sort of thing, but the magnitude is seriously striking).
many interesting, disparate, odd, unconventional analogies/references/examples. frank chimero seems like a person whose brain draws these e
Eoghan Hickey
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable book that raises a few questions about ethics in design and sets to challenge designers in their approach to their work by discussing how we think and feel about or work. At times the writing style is a bit earnest in how it expresses ideas, so I can understand how people could be put off. A good read and one that is available as a “gift” from Frank's website; the shape of design. ...more
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