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Decoding Design: Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication
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Decoding Design: Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  55 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
Revealing how common symbols resonate at a gut level, this book examines the basic shapes that have found their way into human design since the very earliest times. The author deconstructs famous logos and designs that use symbols, patterns and shapes to convey meaning.
Paperback, 232 pages
Published February 4th 2008 by F & W Media (first published January 1st 2008)
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Apr 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
There are parts of this book that are shamefully mystical for being essentially a modernist textbook. However, this was my first introduction to the numerology of forms, and it's extremely easy to understand, enjoy, and even utilize in your own creative work, applied across almost all creative disciplines. Easy to recommend.
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Neil by: Listened to Maggie on Design Matters podcast
I think this quote from early on in the book explains it well,
"In the same way breathing is an unconscious action, patterns are so pervasive we don't notice most of them. Likewise we cannot exist without them and we use them subliminally and constantly."

Symbology and semiotics are crucial in design - more importantly the ability to understand what we are trying to communicate and then clearly encode within the design - so that the users, customers and audience can easily understand and make the
Nov 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'm currently working on a more comprehensive review of this book, but this is the bottom line: If you are a practicing artist, designer or craftsman--read this book. If you have friends that fall into these categories--buy this book for them. Many design books are pure fluff or puff pieces for their 'celebrity' subjects. This book has all the great photos, illustrations and examples of a well produced, showy design book, but more impressively, the text is highly engaging and thought-provoking. ...more
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the most thought-provoking design books I've ever read. It really descends into the insights of why certain images appeal to us on a primordial level.
Jan 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A design book that reads like liturgy. Explores universal symbols. Totally kicks ass as a design resource, and is also a fine example of print design at its best.
Dec 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Good overview and guide to identifying basic design principles and the messages they convey. I refer to it often. Should be on any designer's bookshelf.
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference, design
Maggie Macnab was my logo design teacher. I can't wait to delve deeper into her book!
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Maggie Macnab is a self-taught designer from New Mexico. She began Macnab Design in 1981 and her work has received international recognition for over 30 years. With a lifelong passion for the creative problem solving process, Maggie’s work, teaching and books encompass the observation of how nature solves design problems and how to practically apply these principles to design. She teaches for vari ...more
More about Maggie Macnab

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“Designers need to recognize that, though their goal is to influence consumers, the effect upon individuals and society must be considered. They must decide whether to use their creative energies and the power of symbol to present something that benefits society or to use it in a way that is false but personally advantageous. Today the pharmaceutical industry is a multibillion dollar business driven by the consumer's misplaced fear, ignorance, desire and hope. Take the example of antidepressants being administered to teens to treat behavior problems rooted in patterns that could be changed instead with structure, discipline, motivation and diet. Pharmaceutical drugs can certainly be a useful and effective treatment, but the industry sometimes creates a false need for the sake of profit. Symbolic” 0 likes
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