Review: Graphic Design Thinking: Beyond Brainstorming by Ellen Lupton

I was super excited when I bought this book because it seemed like something that would come in really handy. Reading this book, I was delighted to find that my expectations were satisfied. This book offers some really practical advice about the design process, and it also encourages a lot of experimentation and offers up some techniques I wouldn’t think to try on my own.

The book covers different ways to approach all aspects of the design process from defining the problem, to getting ideas, to creating form. A lot of the concepts and practices listed in the book are things that will be familiar to most students and designers. The book covers topics like conducting interviews, visual research, brain dumping and creating mockups. However, for each one the author goes into detail on how designers can use these approaches more affectively and offers case studies to back it up. A lot of the approaches that the book suggested were new to me and might be to other students as well. The book suggests activities like “sprinting” where a designers sets certain parameters and must make as many designs as they can within a set amount of time in order to encourage more creative risk-taking. This seems like a really practical technique that I’ll probably try out next time I’m stuck trying to create a new layout. Another interesting technique is one called “regurgitation” in which the author encourages you to go for a walk and find any artifact with text on it record it, study it, and find the best way to demonstrate the object’s essence. This activity seems like a really fun one to try out when I finally have some free time again.

The book finishes off with some quotes from well known designers about their personal design process. It’s interesting to read a variety of different perspectives and see how much the design process can vary for different people. There are a lot of ways to be a successful designer and to make successful work. Some of the designers interviewed described their process as unpredictable, while others said that they follow a set routine when doing their work. It’s interesting to see how people with very different work styles can all make great contributions to design.

I would highly recommend this book to students and young designers. This is a resource I definitely wish I would have had in first year when in some instances I was struggling to understand design research and the design process as a whole. But even if you feel that you firmly grasp the concept of design research, this book can offer some new ways to think about projects to help keep your work fresh. I also think that this would be a great book for non-designers and clients to read. It offers a lot of good perspective on the amount of thought and hard work that goes into a project and I think that it would help others to appreciate the value of design.

Thanks for reading!




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