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InspirationAug 18, 2022

Five publications to expand your design thinking

By Amanda DeVries RGD, Derrick Oduro Provisional RGD and Rita Tang Provisional RGD from the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Within the Diversity and Inclusion Committee we have formed a subgroup with an aim to showcase and explore a different perspective when it comes to design that is often overlooked or underappreciated. We hope to expose the Canadian design community to a more varied design landscape while encouraging designers to actively seek out and learn new ideas.

To that end, we’ve written a short article to share with you about some of the exciting design publications from across the world by authors you may not know about. Even though some of them may toil in relative anonymity from mainstream design, they are contributing significantly to the design community and offer a unique lens with which to appreciate design.

SPIKE by Spike Lee

Spike is a testament to the cinematic achievements of Academy Award-winning filmmaker and cultural icon Spike Lee. It is a collector's item for any cinephile and fan of one of the most prominent and influential filmmakers in history.

Most notable aspect of this book is the custom typeface and the layout design by Tré Seals, an American designer and founder of Vocal Type. Vocal Type is a type foundry with a specific agenda: to highlight a piece of history from a specific underrepresented race, ethnicity or gender — from the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Argentina to the Civil Rights Movement in America.

Read: A recap of Tré Seals talk from DesignThinkers 2021

Made in North Korea: Graphics from Everyday Life in the DPRK by Nicholas Bonner

Regardless of your opinions on North Korea and their governing systems, when it comes to propaganda posters and political art, there is a wide array of material to explore. We can expose the parts that cannot be seen — Made in North Korea: Graphics from Everyday Life in the DPRK provides that lens.

Pocket Full of Do by Chris Do

Pocket Full of Do is designed for on-the-go consumption and just-in-time learning. It offers bite-sized lessons packed with business strategies and paradigm-shifting concepts. From marketing to mindset and everything in between, Chris shares all that he’s learned on subjects such as creativity, relationships, beliefs, pricing and sales and negotiation.

In his online content with his company The Future, Chris Do occasionally refers to his childhood growing up as the son of Vietnamese immigrant parents and how he didn’t feel he belonged in typical American society for a long time. This feeling of being an outsider ultimately fuelled his drive to find a place and industry where he was accepted and could thrive.

The Visual Chronicles of Abya Yala by Vanessa Zuñiga

The Visual Chronicles of Abya Yala is a collection of experiments based on the signs from the ancient cultures of Ecuador. The 216 pages showcase 17 experimental typefaces, 425 Andean patterns, over 40 illustrations and 115 visual signs.

This book began as a research project by Vanessa Zúñiga Tinizaray, an Ecuadorian designer working primarily with pattern and modular fonts. Its aim is to elevate the legacy of ancestral Latin American design. Taken from the language of the Guna people—the people of the Guna Yala Archipelago (or Dulenega in the Guna language), also known as San Blas, an Indigenous province of Panama formed of 300+ islands, 49 of which are inhabited—Abya Yala means “land in its full maturity” .

Ahnsangsoo, Leesang, Mano and Myrrh: type specimens by Ahn Sang Soo and the AG Typography Institute

Think Paula Schers and Paul Rands of the West. Ahn Sang Soo is one of Korea's most influential designers. His revolutionary ideas play an important role on how contemporary Korean type design is today by redefining how designers look at Hangul (the writing system of the Korean language). These type specimens were awarded a Red Dot: Grand Prix Design Award in 2015, and they offer a look into the local history of Korean language and design and are also an important part of our global type history and discourse.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article and would like to learn more about design from a non-western perspective, we want to hear from you! Please take a few minutes to fill out this form we’ve put together in order to get the thoughts of the broader RGD community and how we can best inform our members. We look forward to hearing from you!

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