Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

Five Inspiring Design Books


Awhile back I posted about six of my favorite inspiring design books. Truth be told, it was hard to pick out favorites, since each of the volumes on my shelves in the studio are beloved for one reason or another. So I thought I would bring you a second installment along a similar theme.

1. Wild Color

Years ago I took a course which covered natural dyes. I loved the process of extracting dyes from plants, and the beautiful color palettes they produced but the toxicity of the mordants (and that I had the honor of being her only student EVER to show an allergy to cochineal) kept me from experimenting too much with it. Still, I had to buy the book, for the day when I have some free time to do more research. (HA!) It’s a well laid out and comprehensive guide, and the first book I recommend to anyone trying out natural dyes for the first time.

2. Mina Perhonen 3: Print

Akira Minagawa is the Japanese designer behind the beautiful clothing line Mina Perhonen. This tiny volume is the third in a series of three books about the fabrics which Akira designs for his clothes, the first is Textile and the second is Embroidery.  His prints are quirky, spare, and generally genius. Make sure to check out his website, which has an archive of both his clothing and fabric collections.

3. From Mother Goose to Dr. Seuss: Children’s Book Covers From 1860-1960

A treasury of great graphic design and illustration. A few years ago my dad and I were talking about the difference between cd’s and vinyl, and he lamented the loss of the large format cover. Looking at the pages and pages of beautiful book covers (the scans don’t really do them justice) makes me feel the same about moving into an age of digital reading. It’s neat to see the progression of styles through the years, and I find the often hand lettered fonts fascinating.

4. How to Make Lino Cuts: For Profit or Pleasure

Published in 1935 as part of the publisher’s Easy Method Drawing Series. I inherited this from my mother’s library, and I love a. that essentially nothing much has changed in this medium in the 80 years since, b. the book itself is a pleasure to look at, and c. the quality of of the language. E.g. “Concerning tools: The next matter that concerns us is procuring tools, which should be an easy and inexpensive task. Whilst an ordinary pocket penknife is sufficient in expert hands, it is advisable to buy or make three other tools.” Whilst!!! Swoon.

5. Fashioning Felt

This is the newest addition to my library, a gift from Amy during her last visit. It’s divided into three sections: Felt Tradition (the ancient communal techniques for making large felted rugs, blankets and saddles), Felt Craft (contemporary hand made art-felt) and Felt Technology (industrial production and applications). Truly stunning photography; I especially loved seeing all the pictures of felt making in Mongolia, something I’d read about but seen few images of previously. Anyone want to make a rug???

What books do you find inspiring? Which ones are on your wish list?

P.S. Last Sunday was our 100th post, and Friday was our 39th birthday. Big smoochy kisses to my beautiful and talented sister, with whom I have the honor of collaborating with on this blog, and in life. Love ya!

8 Responses to “Five Inspiring Design Books”

  1. Ursula

    See I love thIs post .. It should be mandatory, your lists of faves. I didn’t know you had one of the Mina books. Let me look when I come out. Happy birthday day to both of you!

  2. Jacquelyn Marie

    Love love love the children’s book covers!!

    I just cannot convert to digital books though a friend was reading hers and I noticed that each time she left a woman author’s picture appeared, like Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen. Lovely innovation but only in B and W.

  3. fran

    that’s one of the things i love about your blog. . .takes me on journeys i would take , like exploring the mina website which consumed part of my night. thanx.

  4. ruchapowers

    I love the lino cuts, that was always my favorite medium in Mr. Belton’s art class. I would LOVE to curl up with that book on Mongolian felt-making. The image of the guy on the horse pulling the giant carder (??) has total peaked my interest! Another great post from you, oh tasteful and stylish one.

  5. betty

    i have that children’s book covers book too! it’s a lot of fun to look through. (and edward ardizzone is one of my favorites.) thanks for sharing some of your books…i really enjoy posts like this. and happy belated birthday to you both!

  6. Anne-Marie

    Well I keep coming across information about how to dye with plants – I’m taking that as a sign that it is time for me to start learning! So add that book to my wish list.


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