Best of CH 2009: Top Five Design Books

Like most years, 2009 saw a plethora of design and culture books. But in this case, the abundance persisted in spite of a crippling recession and a publishing industry fighting to adapt to an increasingly digital society. Whether the trend has to do with the ongoing tendency to conceive and market books as collectible objects or the tenacity of book lovers, below we highlight a handful of the dozens on design, graphics and fashion we covered this year.


Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People
Emily Piloton's "Design Revolution" comes at a crucial moment for the design world. Recent exhibitions such as "Design for the Other 90%" and projects like Saatchi & Saatchi's Award for World Changing Ideas have impressed upon designers the need for a return to human-centric design—that is, design that solves problems for people, rather than design that simply offers stylistic flourishes. "Design Revolution" champions this designer as activist approach, focusing on 100 projects that will make our world, and the experience of it, better.


Made for Skate
An archive of unrivaled proportions, "Made for Skate" covers the entire fifty year history of skate shoe design. Not only does it meticulously chronicle the evolution of a sport-specific footwear, it provides a micro perspective on street fashion trends from the last half-century.


We Make Magazines
"We Make Magazines," created by two curators from the Colophon International Independent Magazine Biennale, proves there's life yet in print media and it lies with the independents. The book showcases more than 100 independent magazines and provides a directory to over 700 indies worldwide.


Maison Martin Margiela
Designed by Martin Margiela himself, this hefty clothbound monograph offers a rare glimpse into the world's most secretive fashion house and makes a fitting farewell to the house that bears his name. Featuring hundreds of images from the designer's personal archives, along with contributing essays by fellow colleagues, the book is a must for the sartorially inclined.


Stuffz: Design on Material
A treasure to hold, this clothbound, embroidered book explores the myriad ways in which graphic, industrial, interior and product designers manipulate material to shape our physical world. It's unabashedly optimistic in its celebration of material expression, proving itself a necessary rejoinder to those who decry the making of more stuff.