TED: Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is.

TED, Chip Kidd, “Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is.”

First, let me get this out of the way: Kidd’s one-armed glasses are ridiculous. I understand that he is an eccentric personality and I love what he has to say, but come on. The distracting, awkward way they sit on his head seems completely antithetical to his preoccupation with efficient design.

Anyway. This TED talk is similar in it’s purpose to the one I posted a couple of weeks ago in March in that the speakers are both concerned with how the design of objects influences a person’s interactions with those objects and shapes their experience of the world. In Kidd’s case, he is dealing with an object that once held a sacred place of cultural reverence, but has stumbled in the past decade: the book.

Let it be known that although I own a Kindle of my own, I share some of his bitter feelings about the book’s recent fall from grace in favor of digital distribution of written works. I still buy most of my written material in hardcopy, stubbornly eschewing the portability of hundred-kilobyte versions. I dream of owning a house that comes equipped with, or in which I can build, a library. As it is, stacks and boxes of books still fill the corners and closets of the apartment, waiting for Ikea shelves of their own.

Through his various examples of how the tactile experience of a book can inform or affect the reader’s enjoyment of the text within, Kidd makes a great case for the value of visual design and why the physicality of books still matters. Seeing the story behind one of the most well-known logos of all time – the Jurassic Park emblem – is especially interesting.


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