Top 10 Books on Design

There’s a sea of design inspiration to be found online. It’s an incredible tool for fuelling creativity – but for those of us who prefer the old school approach, collecting design books can become a spectacularly satisfying pursuit (read addiction). ‘Design’ is a far-reaching umbrella with a wonderful variety falling beneath it. Challenging as it was to select just ten titles, we’ve created a list that’s sure to strike a chord, whether it’s architectural, furniture, or garden design that sparks your joy…


A Modern Way to Live: 5 Design Principles from the Modern House


The Modern House has emerged as something of a design authority to many. Theirs is an entirely new kind of estate agency, weaving a brilliantly beautiful narrative around the concept of the home. In their new book, they’ve laid bare all the design elements that go into the alchemy of homemaking, leaving breadcrumbs of inspiration as they go. Modern House co-founder, Matt Gibberd walks us through a number of houses that have made a real impact on him since the company’s inception, peppering the pages with stories of those who call these places home.


Travel by Design


Travel is a wonderful thing – and many of us are now more acutely aware of its role in our lives than ever before. If you prefer to wander with a bit of purpose, ‘Travel by Design’ offers a fantastic guide to the hidden design wonders of the world. It’s especially enthusing to see these places through the lenses of some of America’s leading architects and designers, who even lend insider knowledge on dining, hotels, and top tips across over 100 destinations.


The Design Book


This one does exactly what it says on the tin. If you come to the world of design with an all-encompassing curiosity, this is the books for you. It covers many facets of the space, with an emphasis on product design. Leafing through its pages feels like a true exploration of the world around us, from the seats we sit in to the lamps that light up our lives.


Atlas of Furniture Design


Vitra Design Museum’s ‘Atlas of Furniture Design’ takes an encyclopaedic approach to chronicling the most impactful pieces of furniture to take shape over the past 200 years. Modern furniture design takes centre stage, with a wealth of studio images, design sketches, and in-situ photography to animate your explorations. At over 1,000 pages, this is a true tome of creative inspiration that’s sure to speak to all tastes.


The Impossible Collection of Design


‘The Impossible Collection of Design’ is, in true Assouline fashion, something of a trophy book. It’s a substantial design object in its own right, as beautiful on the outside as it is within. Amidst its pages design authority, Frédéric Chambre traces the evolution of twentieth century furniture design, touching on the cultural debates it leaves in its wake. It’s a beauty of a book with the substance to match – the perfect gift to yourself.


Industrial Design A-Z


This is a book for the chronically curious. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering about the small things that make up your everyday – your toothbrush, your speakers – this will be the answer to those burning questions. It tells the story of design through the lens of invention, breaking down everything from why an airplane looks the way it does to just how a wind turbine takes its form. In other words, it’s a chronicle of what happens when you set design loose in the world.


The Garden: Elements and Styles


If your interests lie at the mercurial intersection of design and nature, ‘The Garden: Elements and Styles’ is sure to set your mind ablaze. This beautiful book by garden great, Dr Toby Musgrave is an indispensable source of visual research for the green-thumbed. Readers traverse the history of garden design, encountering the various creative movements which informed the practice and contributed to carefully cultivated wonderlands the world over.


Design Emergency


‘Design Emergency’ introduces readers to the purposeful design innovations that fuel our modern world. Alice Rawsthorn and Paola Antonelli walk us through the designs that have changed society for the better, tracking back to the ah-ha moments that sparked them and opening up space for us to answer the call of our own bright ideas.


Terence Conran: My Life in Design


If anyone could speak to a life in design, it’s Sir Terence Conran – the man has even got his own eponymous colour! He’s also got a veritable design empire and a lifetime’s experience in the world of architecture, furniture design, and interiors. Conran was a creative polymath who charted his path through the history of design, working his way into its very fabric in the process. In ‘My Life in Design’ he lays out the manifold artifacts of that legacy, introducing readers to morsels of inspiration along the way.


Art House


Art House is a book dedicated to the careful craft of living with art. It follows the life of collector-supreme, Chara Schreyer and the homes she’s built for herself as well as her art. These beautifully curated abodes are as awe-inspiring as the works they house, shining a light on the dazzlingly symbiotic relationship between art and design.



Text by Annabel Colterjohn