Design books 2024: What renowned creatives read

Inspire your next project with these books for designers.

readymag blog_design books2024 by creatives

Check out the five best books on design recommended by Paula Scher, Tea Uglow, Kenya Hara, Paola Antonelli and Tadao Ando. You’ll explore global lifestyles, dive into Japanese beauty, discover early 20th-century art, and even get a taste of cyberpunk.

Today’s reading advice from designers:

Discover what else is shaping the future of design with our top five must-read design books for 2024.

Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel 

On the book list of Paola Antonelli, a senior curator of architecture and design at MoMA

Paola Antonelli highlights that design is a force for any kind of change, including better living conditions, and such society-oriented books are instrumental in guiding these enhancements.

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In a nutshell, this book shows how people live in different places, from simple rural homes to busy city apartments. Creative minds love this read for its real-life look at different cultures and the amazing photos that tell stories of families.

In Praise of Shadows by Junichirō Tanizaki 

On the book list of Tadao Ando, a Japanese contemporary architect

Tadao Ando’s designs focus on the balance of light and shadow, a theme that is deeply reflected in this book.

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This essay on Japanese aesthetics explores how shadows and light bring out beauty in everyday objects and spaces, including architecture, jade, food, temples, women, and even toilets. Tanozaki shows that focusing on the small details can affect how we see beauty.

The Book of Tea by Kakuzō Okakura 

On the book list of Kenya Hara, an art director at Muji

Kenya Hara’s work “Whiteexamines white not just as a color but as a key part of Japanese style. This approach connects with the design ideas in Junichirō Tanizaki’s “In Praise of Shadows” and Tenshin Okakura’s “The Book of Tea.”

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“The Book of Tea” combines the history of Japanese tea with its influence on art, food, clothing, and literature. The narrative shows that tea is more than a drink in Japan; it is a big part of the culture that affects many other areas of life.

Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson

On the book list of Tea Uglow, co-founder and director at the Dark Swan Institute, and co-founder of Creative Labs for Google in Sydney and London

Tea Uglow shares that sci-fi novels have influenced her creativity. She says, “Early sci-fi writers, envisioning worlds of cyberpunk that we aspired to create, greatly influenced me. The concept of a machine creating art in Mona Lisa Overdrive, particularly boxes reminiscent of 1960s abstract art, struck a chord. In university, I created work through gestures—ideas that seemed abstract in the early ‘90s but are now realized with tools like Tilt Brush.”

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This sci-fi classic piece takes you into a future world of cybernetics and virtual reality. It’s packed with imaginative concepts that can inspire you to think outside the box.

Futurism and Futurisms by Pontus Hulten

On the book list of Paula Scher, an American graphic designer, painter, and art educator in design

Paula Scher appreciates the book’s extensive documentation and insightful connections between art and historical context, which make it an essential resource for understanding the impact of Futurism on contemporary design.

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You’ll dive into the wild world of the Futurist movement, which had a powerful impact on early 20th-century art and the confrontation of new perspectives after the First World War. The book is filled with paintings, sculptures, and design works that broke traditional boundaries. 

What else should you add to your bookshelf? Explore 10 timeless picks from Airbnb Design Lead and 7 books every web designer should read, recommended by our team.