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The Politics of Design: A (Not So) Global Design Manual for Visual Communication
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The Politics of Design: A (Not So) Global Design Manual for Visual Communication

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  325 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Many designs that appear in today's society will circulate and encounter audiences of many different cultures and languages. With communication comes responsibility; are designers aware of the meaning and impact of their work? An image or symbol that is acceptable in one culture can be offensive or even harmful in the next. A typeface or colour in a design might appear to ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 7th 2016 by BIS Publishers (first published May 10th 2016)
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Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it
There is not enough literature about the intersection of design and politics, so I had high hopes for this "(Not So) Global Manual". The Politics of Design is full of single-page anecdotes, and feels more like a collection of lightly-researched blog posts than a serious printed reference. Most of the book is dedicated to pointing out cultural and political missteps that have been made by designers in the past, but there are no guiding principles to link these stories together into something ...more
Sérgio Ferreira
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great handbook on the politics of creating designs, giving foresight into all aspects of the profession: type, image and layout construction. Focus a lot on arabic problematics and how graphic design in the so-called West doesn't necessarily fit into other places' different cultural aspects.
Andrea Rossi
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: learn
Easy to read collection of anecdotes and examples about the fact that design is inherently not neutral or universal. The book doesn't go deep into the topic, but does a good job at making the reader more aware
Rebecca Worth
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
The idea behind this book is important but unfortunately, its production quality undermines its value as a critical text. I really enjoyed the breadth of research but it is as if the content was published too early in its development – with blatant grammatical errors and missing or misplaced references. Brief advisory sentences are tagged onto the end of some, but not all, articles, which felt inadequate and inconsistent. The book ends abruptly, without any concluding statement to weave the ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Libtards
This book is not useful to anyone wanting to learn about design. The book is merely a series of random snippets on, for example, how capital letters are sexist and maps are racist. Not surprising, cultural Marxists believe everything created by white men is sexist, racist and every other -ist you can think of. It's all the usual multi-cultural, pro-immigration, anti-capitalism, anti-white propaganda.

The author states up front that he is political; of course he doesn't state which side he is on,
Maya Man
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book should be called something else because the title is misleading maybe something more like expanding the way you think about design? But overall was enjoyable to read it's a bunch of super (super) short snippets of knowledge on topics ranging from typography to color to images to diversity.

It wasn't that well written imo but had some cool references to past major errors and miscommunications across cultures in design or to studies exposing differences in the way we perceive symbols and
Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2019, design
Interesting collection of short essays about design related topics like typography, colors, photography. Unfortunately every essay is just one or two pages long, so everything is on a pretty superfical level. While some texts are inspiring and even surprising, some of them are just disappointing ("Color psychology" to name one).

The chapter about typography was the most interesting one in my opinion, especially the essays "Arabic Adaption of Latin Logotypes" and "Ethnic Typography". Every now and
Jamie from The Doer Co
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's not a lot of offerings on the intersectionality of design and culture/politics. Although this book is a collection of articles on these topics (and none in particular goes into MUCH depth on it's area of focus), I learned a lot. I enjoy the layout of the book because it reminds me of the way my brain ties all of these concepts together. There was one graphic in particular illustrating the global organization power hierarchy that is worth reading this book alone for. Overall a great read ...more
Ronan Mcdonnell
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a designer, every thing we put out there has an impact, a meaning, and an intention. Try we might the intention can be muddied and the piece in question have more than one reading. This book is a survey of how design stands in a global world, how it can be more inclusive and considerate. In short, how design can be more rigorous.
It's an excellent book, and should be required reading for any message makers.
Celia Yost
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a good little primer on the topic. It's more of a series of talking points than anything else--every page could have easily been a full chapter if not a full book--but I think that was probably the author's goal and to be fair there's a list of further reading included. It was also nice to get the viewpoint of an author/designer who isn't American, if nothing else it shifted the selection of exampled used a bit.
David Bjelland
What happens when you try to condense a coffee-table book into the size of a chapbook.

A writing style that feels sort of like a series of opening paragraphs from wikipedia pages.

A few compelling, unique ideas buried among the completely-obvious-to-anyone-who-has-ever-thought-about-design-and-culture-at-roughly-the-same-time ones.

Some dryly ironic juxtaposed images (which the text itself either brilliantly or frustratingly under-comments on, depending on your preferences)
sarah semark
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great series of introductory anecdotes to start thinking critically about design in a more inclusive context. Could have used some more in-depth material or pieces to connect all the threads together.

Generally really nicely designed, although the lack of whitespace and sometimes aggressive use of colour could make it difficult to read at times.
Lydia Nguyen
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really appreciate everything about this book - how it is designed (ha), how it is a collaboration of efforts and conglomeration of examples from all around the world, how it presents so much critical thought... I really recommend this to all those interested in design x visual communication x language x (production of) culture.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A collection of examples of how politics, culture, the legacy of colonialism and design (everything from typography to photos) intertwine. Light and fascinating read, doesn't go to deep into topics but gives a nice overview.
It's a great conversation starter, thought provoker with colourful pictures.
Niloy Mukherjee
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
The Politics of Design is a revelatory exploration of the political and cultural context of the images, colors and typography that shape our world. The book will better inform how you understand and look beyond the obvious when it comes to the symbols and graphics of our society.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m sure much more could now be written on the subject - a lot of the examples felt like basic ones that I’d already read about online, which was slightly disappointing. That said, it’s really useful to have all of the research out together in one place and in a very clear way.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book that explores politics, linguistics, psychology, and a slew of other topics through the lens of design. Each chapter is concise and provides a nice introduction for a variety of subjects. Highly recommend
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
By no means exhaustive or complete but a highly interesting collection of various examples and topics of „political design“ that invited the reader to go ahead and dig deeper on a specific topic elsewhere if they want to
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting ! I especially liked the phrase 'female horse stuffed with wax', the Chinese name for coca cola in 1928.
Anya Rudenko
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
I bought this book because I was curious about design. It got me even more curious )
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
common sense, didn’t learn much
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-english
Must-read for whoever human on this planet even *considers* to create anything. Art, design, books, Facebook posts. Anything. Read this
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Stunning booklet to have around and leaf through once in a while...
Tim Belonax
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
The book provides many starting points for one’s further investigation into specifics around design and politics but fails to tie its references together into a clear conclusion.
Colin Roy
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A brief primer/teaser/eye opener to the tyranny and harm design can cause.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Like reading someone’s blog. Not a bad blog, but still lacked the depth I was hoping for.
Jordan Armstrong
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Good cursory coverage of political implications of graphic design.
This is a must-read for any designer or anyone that is interested in design. This offers a plethora of interesting information that is truly valuable and aids in one seeing the world of visual communication in a different way. It was interesting and fun to read and I just couldn't resist reading it from cover to cover.

I would definitely recommend it to any designer or design enthusiast.
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
In this book Pater presents us with a compilation of short, one-page essays exploring almost every aspect of design and explaining the (often subconscious) cultural connetations and consequences of design choices. Pater explains how most design choices, from small things such as font colour to larger considerations such as the presentation of the world map, are rarely universal or global and are crammed with cultural biases. The book is packed with extremely short but satisfying factoids and ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
I was looking forward to reading this book, given its subject matter and appealing design.

The format of the book (1 or 2-page cursory glances per topic) made the book feel somewhat introductory. Individualized topics were explored on an overview level and were not always connected to each other on a grand scale. Each vignette/example often pointed out an issue or interesting global perspective on the subject matter. However, the solutions for designers to these problems were only presented some
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